Mind Over Matter

I recently listened to a piece on NPR about people living healthier lives by learning how to cope with back pain rather than becoming immobilized by back pain.

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they’ve recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It’s one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

In fact, there’s that many standard treatments for back pain — surgery, spinal injections and painkillers — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

The story went on to explore how back pain sufferers are actually learning how to listen to their bodies, and strengthen them to initially eliminate their response to pain and ultimately reduce the pain. Period.

This reminded me of the idiom my parents taught me as a child, “it’s mind over matter.” You can choose to like something. You can decide to do things (where they called in the other idiom “can’ts can’t do anything”) to directly result in a change. Sometimes those things are harder than others. For this discussion, it ultimately comes back to how we can use our minds fool our bodies.

If we truly, truly believe we are healthy, we will start to make healthy decisions for ourselves. If we believe we are perfect just the way we are and we love ourselves as we are, we will make healthier decisions for ourselves, simply because we find worth in it, value in it, because it’s important to us that it’s healthy, strong and vibrant.

It’s like when we smile, even if we aren’t feeling happy, we actually help our brains produce the chemical that will help  us feel happier. (Check out that study.)

Just like when we draw our shoulders back and walk or dance confidently, or dance and take up lots of space, it chemically alters what is happening in our bodies so that we appear more confident to others.

The question is, what do you want more of in your life?
happiness?
strength?
confidence?
beauty? (that comes from within)
less pain?
good health?

Whatever those things are, they may only be a function of mind over matter.