Scientists in recent years have discovered how the state of our mind – what the brain does – influences our overall mental and physical health. It’s wonderful news that our intellectual limits are NOT “set” or “fixed” in childhood only to then decline from the age of 25! This bleak and incorrect view of the human brain has, thank goodness, been overturned by the astounding new research that the brain grows and changes no matter what your age; it all depends on how you USE your brain (see Intellectual Development).
When you adopt a lifestyle of intense mental focus, you quite literally “switch on” neuroplasticity, the marvelous ability of the brain the grow branches and unending scaffolds of networks to increase your intelligence. I have, in my own research, seen patients with severe trauma to the brain move to intellectual heights never dreamed off; students who thought they could not make it academically become master scholars; and people whose depression threatened to overthrow them set free.
Strategic approaches to thinking necessitate an understanding of your gift (see The Perfect You), how you think – which will create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones for as long as you live! How you think and what you are thinking, which I call the “I-factor” are being proven scientifically to have as much if not more influence over our genes than diet and exercise.
This is an emerging new field called Epigenetics and means control over and above the genes. This is very exciting because it means we are not victims of our biology, as we have been erroneously told, but are “captains of our souls” (from the poem ‘Invictus’).
What we think influences every aspect of who we are and how we feel physically. A fascinating study, one of many of this kind, done at Ohio State University shows that healing can be slowed by as much as 40% when one is stressed. Considering that stress is the body’s reaction to our thought life, our state of mind (our thought life), is quite literally determining our mental and physical health. For more on stress watch 1.13m vimeo clip on stress, or you can watch the whole episode 28.
It is your I-factor, your thoughts which encompass your beliefs and your feelings, which are able to create a virtuous cycle of health or a toxic cycle of sickness and unhappiness. It does not matter how sick or mentally challenged we may feel, we still have the ability to choose our thoughts and feelings. God has equipped each of us with all the genetic material and epigenetic ability to deal optimally with all the challenges of life.
It all boils down to the I-Factor, in other words it’s up to us to follow the words of scripture, "Every day I lay before you life and death; choose life so that you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19).
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