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How meaning and purpose can influence your health...

by , 13 August 2021
How meaning and purpose can influence your health...
We hear the words “meaning and purpose” being used more frequently in wellness conversations.

But what does it actually mean? And how can you use it to help you thrive?

The study of how meaning and purpose can influence your health is actually nothing new… 

The connections between the mind and the body were already well-documented 1.5 centuries ago. Therefore it seems strange that it has taken society so long to fully appreciate the implications of these connections. 

The first record of this was when Galen, an ancient Greek philosopher, observed a link between melancholic woman and the development of breast cancer. Later on Willem Reich, a disciple of Freud and psychologist and pathologist, observed in his patients an association between depression and the subsequent development of cancer

Psychiatrist and neurologist Victor Frankl profoundly illustrated the concept during WW II when he observed those who survived and those who succumbed in Nazi concentration camps. He noted that only those who retained meaning and purpose in their lives survived. Once an individual lost the purpose to live they succumbed to fatal infections. Or they weakened physically, were unable to work and were selected out for extermination. 

Victor wrote his seminal book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” on his research. 

It's clear, meaning and purpose impacts favourably on physical wellness, performance and survival.  

Things go wrong when we have nothing to live for

Science has shown the correlation between a hopeless-helpless state of mind and subsequent development of disease and pre-mature death. This study of how our mind states influence our neurochemistry is called psycho-neuro-endocrinology or PNE for short. 

When I came across this research I realised this is powerful stuff and we can use this and leverage our states of mind to help us thrive. 

Acute or short-term negative emotions are part of life. And should not be suppressed or avoided. This will just cause unresolved issues to fester and build up into more severe problems down the line. The main idea that I want you to take away from this article is that chronically negative or destructive states of mind will lead to immune suppression, increased inflammation and the onset of many types of disease and ailments. 

Becoming aware of these patterns of thinking and feeling is the first step. Ask yourself where do you have any of these feelings possibly lurking in the shady recesses of your mind or in past-unresolved memories. This could be anger, hostility, hatred, competition, fear, worry, anxiety, pain, guilt, shame, unworthiness, un-forgiveness, envy, jealousy, bitterness, resentment etc. 

How you deal with this will depend on the severity of the states and will vary from one individual to the next. For some just talking to a friend or partner will help. For others counseling, therapy or coaching might be required. 

Keep reading...

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So it is with cancer...

There’s the hundreds of thousands of normal cancer cells, and then nestled deep inside a tumour, is at least one cancer stem cell… 

Like the queen bee, these cancer stem cells’ sole responsibility is to ensure the survival of their colony by mutating and evolving. 

Until now, chemotherapy and radiation have been unsuccessful in disarming these dominant cancer cells… 

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******************************************
Replacing the old states with new ones...  

What you can do from today is start to fill your life with more positive states of mind. This should include experiencing the following on a regular basis: 

•    Empathy
•    Trust 
•    Gratitude
•    Contentment 
•    Purposeful motivation   

You can increase purposeful motivation in your life by having goals or outcomes in each of these areas: 

•    Work or career
•    Interpersonal relationships 
•    Recreational; like hobbies or sports

There is a much more to explore on this topic, but I will leave that for future articles. 

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information on coaching and interventions you can incorporate for thriving. Send me an e-mail @ Reinhard@howtothrive.co.za with the subject “HB”.


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