What gets in the way of healthy living?
The last 4 months I’ve been following up with several individuals who I’ve had the chance to work with. These are people who over the past year we’ve worked with to help improve their health. As part of this follow up I’ve looked into how their physical and emotional well-being was holding up. As part of this project certain protocols were set up to establish the effects different stressors had on each person. Since I’ve also been working on breaking certain habits or ways of thinking, I also participated in this follow up project.
We’ve already written on several occasions the effects that chronic stress has on health. This of course is nothing new as several scientific studies have shown that more than 90% of illnesses are stress related. As a recap of what we’ve already mentioned in other posts – chemical changes occur in the brain whenever stress occurs. As a result the endocrine, immune and digestive systems weaken. Illness is manifested differently in each person due to a number of variables such as nutrition, exercise, sleep habits, use of pharmaceutical drugs, etc. Either way, chronic stress always leads to disease.
One of our primary findings on the follow up project included the ability to map out the root of chronic stress. It appears that chronic stress develops whenever we’ve made a conscious decision to act in a way contrary to what we know to be true. In this process we create rationalizations. In reality this is a nicer way of saying we create lies in order to justify actions and/or thoughts to gain self approval. This includes creating stories to support the lies we’ve told ourselves, which inevitably perpetuates more lies and false stories in an effort to support poor decision making.
From a physiological standpoint this mental exercise causes thousands of our brain’s neurons to create new interconnections. These new connections block reality and truth. In the process we create a new reality that now becomes our relative truth. The consistent stream of lies however, is always in a constant battle with what we already know to be true. In an effort to decrease feelings of guilt we seek approval from others. Often times this can come in the form seeking praise or recognition. Any accolades we receive however are only superficial. In conversations with others during this follow up project, it was conclusive that happiness was never permanent unless changes occur from within to detangle ourselves from or own lies.
This leads me to strongly believe that in most cases, attributing problems and behaviors to genetics or our surroundings is an excuse we generate to not confront the knowledge and truth that is already embedded in our frontal brain. Superficial changes will never work. This is why we can all get easily stuck with feelings of resentment, constant suspicion, pride, anxiety, anger and all other emotions that leave us feeling unhappy and on edge.
The fact remains however, that we’re all intelligent people and know that constant stress is unhealthy. The largest hindrance however is our perception of self preservation. The thought that the only way to maintain some level of happiness is preserve what others may or may not think of me. As a society we’ve all, to some level, fallen victim to the lie that perfection is required to receive acceptance. Nothing can be further from the truth. There is something refreshing and beautiful about admitting our human nature and vulnerabilities. That’s not to say we have to share them with the world, but something in our research that was consistent across the board is that the first step towards changing inwardly is to come to the self admission of one’s own weaknesses, and understanding that it is okay to have them. To live under the constant shroud of lies in order to put on a façade of perfection has the opposite effect of happiness – it often leads to loneliness, sadness and lack of health.
As we reconcile who we truly are to ourselves and abide by the true principles that each of us is innately born with – such as service, compassion, forgiveness, and all other virtuous behaviors and paradigms – we begin to align our cognitive actions with our true natures. This is the key to happiness. This is the key to good health.
Originally published November 21, 2014