“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.” –Norman Cousins
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how what we think influences our health. We are not victims of life adrift in an ocean of random circumstances. Instead, we are completely capable of determining the impact our experiences have on our state of being. By this I’m not suggesting we live in a state of denial (Rachel addresses the importance of fully experiencing suffering and grief in next week’s reading). I’m talking about developing an attitude that allows us to accept and even celebrate the fact that human beings have the capacity for a wide range of emotions. And in introducing psychoneuroimmunology, I’m talking about reframing our negative experiences that might otherwise fester in our minds and cause us harm.
One way I do this is by telling myself that people’s behavior says everything about them, and my reactions to their behavior says everything about me. That doesn’t mean I deny or suppress my annoyance, anger, or what have you. I just own those reactions as mine. I practice letting go of reactionary statements like, “You make me so mad!” Instead, I believe that when someone behaves a certain way I am responsible for my responses and that I have the power to control them.
Let me add that some times I am better at this than others…
I began this posting by quoting Norman Cousins. Cousins, you may know, suffered from a severe illness that he was told would likely kill him. He saw the conventional treatment as causing other problems for him so devised instead a protocol of high dose Vitamin C and laughter. Given a 500-1 chance of survival, his unorthodox method proved successful and became the subject of his book “Anatomy of an Illness.”
Link to Book: “My Grandfather’s Blessings”