Here's a truly transformational goal: Take greater control of your own health. Learning to assert more authority over how we care for ourselves could be the key to real health care reform.
I've found that taking time in the early morning to pray and study gives me a healthy perspective from which to launch my day. My primary source of inspiration is always the Bible and one of my favorite verses is "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."
I like to think of that door as opening to a greater sense of peace and freedom, a deeper understanding of the spiritual source of health and harmony. And I love the idea that nobody can shut that door.
Here are five ways to take action on that idea and step through the door to greater spiritual and physical health:
1 Be grateful. Scientific research has verified long-held wisdom: Gratitude is good for your emotional and physical health. Among the proven benefits are greater mental alertness, greater happiness, less stress and a stronger immune system. Start your day by listing three things for which you are grateful. Check the list again, and try to add to it, before you go to sleep at night.
2 Find ways to give. "A strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate," according to the National Institutes of Health. First, be "emotionally compassionate" by making sure your motive is truly altruistic; then "behaviorally compassionate" by volunteering in your community. Can't swing a regular commitment? Look for a neighbor or colleague who could use a hand.
3 Lose the mental weight. Obesity is now considered a disease, and a very expensive one. Research shows a tendency to deal with stress by overeating contributes to obesity. Stress-related anger, frustration, and impatience can become habits if we're not alert. Practice their opposites: understanding, grace, unselfishness and patience. These are spiritual qualities, available to all. Healthy practices such as meditation or prayer can help you get there.
4 Go to church. Harvard professor T.M. Luhrmann wrote recently in the New York Times, "One of the most striking scientific discoveries about religion in recent years is that going to church weekly is good for you. Religious attendance — at least, religiosity — boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. It may add as much as two to three years to your life.'' So if you are a believer, why not try church, even if you're not a "churchgoer." Find a place of worship that suits you and try it out. The goal here should be an exploration of deeper spirituality, which is the basis of truly transformational healing — the cleansing of soul and body.
5 Calm down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90 percent of all illness and disease may be at least partly stress related. Laura Kubzansky from the Harvard School of Public Health, who studies the biology of emotion, tells us that, "Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment, to find a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens."
Transforming the way we think about and take care of ourselves is something we all have the power and authority to do. It is, quite literally, "an open door.''
Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at simplyhealthyflorida.com.