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"The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things,
but that we are not passionate enough about good things."
-Larry Crabb

There is no shortage of campaigns to join; no shortage of evils to fight against. There are wars against terrorism, drugs, smoking, and hunger. When you think of these controversial issues, what are the images that flash in your mind first? I cannot speak for every person, but my experience has been that people tend to picture first the images of the angry, fist-pumping speakers and demonstrators, and the tragedy of the cause. Perhaps it is part of our hardwiring to be always on the lookout for danger; angry people, violent crime and poverty are all dangerous. Or perhaps we remember these images because we have been programmed by the media, which promote the shocking images for the sake of sales. Regardless of the reasons, it seems to me that we spend an awful lot of time being passionate about the bad things. Ok, so what? Why would being passionate about bad things be a bad thing?

Because our passion for bad things will have a corresponding bad effect on the body through our biochemistry. Negative emotions and thoughts cause reactions in the motor, autonomic, neuroendocrine, immune and sensory systems. Below is a list of just a few of the chemicals that increase when we think negative thoughts or feel fear:

  • Cortisol. Cortisol is usually called the "stress hormone" because it is involved in the fight-or-flight response we have toward stress and anxiety. Cortisol increases blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduces immune responses.
  • Substance P (SP). SP has an important role in the perception of pain and has been associated with the regulation of mood disorders, anxiety, stress, respiratory rhythm and nausea; it has also been theorized to play a part in fibromyalgia and eczema. SP has been shown to inhibit neurogenesis, the formulation of new brain cells.
  • Adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones have widespread effects that cause, among other symptoms, increased blood pressure and an accelerated heart rate. High levels of adrenaline, in particular, have been shown to enhance fear-related memory formation.

Now, as if all these direct effects aren't discouraging enough, the stress chemicals go to work on your biochemistry indirectly too. High levels of cortisol act like steroids, destroying the body's dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenalin--your feel-good chemicals. Serotonin modulates depression, anger, sleep, sexuality and other functions, such as a person's perception of fairness. Of the 40 million brain cells, most are influenced by serotonin. Lower levels of these feel-good chemicals will have you soon feeling hopeless, helpless and depressed.

How do we stop this madness!? One great way to shift your general mood is to filter all incoming information. Screen everything you read or watch on television so that only positive images and information reach you. This may mean turning off the evening news and CNN (which Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, calls Constantly Negative News). For those who don't have the luxury of completely shielding themselves from the sensational headlines, you can limit your intake, you can select the more objective sources of news and you can choose to limit your sensory uptake by reading your news instead of watching and listening.

I also highly recommend adding humor by the truckload! A recent study of 45 pairs of adults, who were monitored while they watched either a funny or serious film, found that the laughing participants increased their heart rates and calorie burn 20% over the non-laughing participants.  The scientists went on to speculate that just 15 minutes of laughter each day could burn between 10 and 40 calories. Over the course of a year that could mean a shift of 1 to 4 pounds. Granted, that's not a huge change―but we all know that small things often make the biggest difference.

However, if the calorie-burning effect of laughter doesn't hook you, try this one: Laugher releases endorphins, your body's natural painkillers. Take the story of Norman Cousins, an American political journalist, author, professor and world peace advocate. Cousins suffered many illnesses, including heart disease and a painful form of spinal arthritis. Told he had little chance of surviving, he treated himself with mega doses of Vitamin C and mega doses of laughter curtsey of Marx Brothers films. "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep." Mr. Cousins chronicled his tale in the bestseller, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration. He survived 16 years after his diagnosis, much longer than his doctors had predicted.  

The bottom line is this: Choose your passions wisely. Find reasons to connect to people―and the world―in positive ways by actively seeking joy, happiness and laughter. Not only will you do your own body a great service, you'll increase the health and wellbeing of everyone around you. Make it a point to spend more time thinking and talking about the good things in life than you do the bad things. Over time this will become a habit―just as feeling good will become a habit.

"The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things,
but that we are not passionate enough about good things."
-Larry Crabb

What do you think? Do negative thoughts and feelings create illness? Can you "laugh" yourself into good health? I really want to know what you think. E-mail me at Lorraine@Peacemaker-Coach.com and share.

Warmest Regards,

Lorraine Esposito

www.Peacemaker-Coach.com

914-410-7502

Life and fitness coach and author Lorraine Esposito has been featured in broadcast, print and online media and is a public speaker regarding personal leadership and empowered parenting to community and school-based audiences. Find out more about Lorraine at www.Peacemaker-Coach.com and her latest book at http://www.morningpeacemaker.com  The Morning Peacemaker, How to get your kids out the door on time without saying(nagging) a word.
 
 If you have kids ages 2 to 12 you'll LOVE this book!\
 
Available at http://www.MorningPeacemaker.com and Amazon.com

  

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