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Does Positive Thinking Produce Wellness?

I read earlier this week about how positive thinking will not produce “happiness”. I also read earlier this week about how a positive outlook will produce better health outcomes. Not that happiness and health outcomes are necessarily the same thing; I want to examine the notion that whatever is going on “inside of our heads” so to speak does play a very important role in happiness, health and wellness.

What is a thought? I don’t think anyone can really answer that question. We often consider a thought as the product of the action of our “mind”. And what is “mind”? It is clear that, even though there are theories on these, the truth or facts about them are not well established. So we are kind of stuck with the consensus at the time, and consensus is a very malleable thing. It is still possible to discuss the topic at hand. I will propose my definition of thought and mind and we can use that to look at how applying “positivity” as a wellness intervention can produce certain outcomes.

Mind is the aspect of consciousness that has a local expression within each of us as an organism, and at the same time has a global or universal expression as the Akashic field (see the work of Ervin Laszlo) or collective unconscious (see the work of C.J. Jung). A thought, then, is a perceptual element that streams specific information about any object of consciousness. Almost like a sub-routine in a computer program, yet nowhere near as simple. The amount that we do not know about this topic is unfathomable. So much to learn, so little time to learn it.

I will not go into great detail about how mind and thought are interconnected with all the physical and emotional functions of the organism that we currently inhabit. You can search the realm of psychneuroimmunology and psychophysiology for all the information you desire. I will presume that there is no barrier between the mind and body, and any thought will have a complementary and representative expression in the physiology of the organism.

So here is where it gets extremely simple. A positive thought is one that creates an intention for some benefit within the organism, or for some benefit that occurs in the environment. The notion that we are separate from our environment is an illusion that we have been indoctrinated to believe. Current advancements in scientific evidence make it very clear that the interconnectedness I describe above does not stop at our skin, as previously thought. If this is a new idea, refer to the works of Ken Wilber for background (see No Boundary as a good reference).

Here is the simple formula: Mind and thought are activities of consciousness. Thought has a very direct impact on the state of our psychophysiology. If we use positive thought to create intention to produce beneficial states in our psychophysiology, we will see increases in wellness. I consider increased wellness as increased happiness. Definitions of wellness and happiness will vary from person to person. I have defined wellness extensively in other posts and on my site. I will not presume to define happiness for any other person. That is a matter of preference.

One of the most interesting examples I became aware of several years ago was the case of a young man with an inoperable tumor in his brain. He was treated by Dr. Patricia Norris of the Menninger Foundation. The book that documents the use of biofeedback techniques, predominantly positive thought and creative visualization, was published in 1985. The book Why Me? was one of the best stories that describe the power of healing in each of us. The work that Dr. Norris completed with the young man in the story produced a remission in the cancer. There are many stories like this one. The reason this one was special to me was that I had the pleasure of meeting the young man in the story. There is nothing like a real time encounter to validate the story.

The real time encounter is what it is all about. Please enjoy the posts that you read and use the information to inform your practice. Please remember to take the information into your daily experience. See what fits and what may not be “true” for you. Please do not let anything anyone writes on a blog limit your view or your personal practice. Anyone can write a blog post, and what we all have to say is specific to our understanding. We cannot know enough to tell you what is right or wrong for you. You need to be the one to determine this. It is your personal wellness process. Remember to take all the information in through a lens of discovery. Find what makes sense and what is right for you.

About Dr. Marco Zolow (13 Articles)
Dr. Zolow has been a holistic practitioner since completing a minor in holistic health at San Francisco State University in 1986. He focused on two main areas of holistic health during this program; Chinese Medical Theory and Biofeedback Training. He was certified by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America from 1986 through 1991. He completed a M.S. degree in Clinical Counseling at California State University, Hayward in 1991. Dr. Zolow held a Professional Counselor License in the State of Michigan from 1994 through 1997. With the completion of a Ph.D. in Health Psychology, Dr. Zolow has attained the academic credential that supports a mission of promoting wellness in a wide range of programs and services. The holistic worldview has been Dr. Zolow’s foundation for all personal and professional practice. His career has spanned multiple arenas. He has worked as a social worker, counselor, therapist, supervisor, manager, and program director. He has brought the holistic perspective to each of these roles and shared this view with clients, customers, and co-workers in every way possible. “Over the past 35 years, I have explored the world philosophical and religious traditions of Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Kabbalism, Paganism, and the mystic traditions of Christianity. This exploration has had the effect of expanding my perspective on the commonalities that are interwoven across all world cultures. The result of this perspective is to realize that it is very human to seek a personal experience of spirituality that is grounded in the familiar.”
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