The Sunday News
Living life to the fullest with Selusweyinkosi Mhlanga
I was at the doctor’s waiting room when my attention was drawn to a conversation between two strangers — one young man and an elderly woman. The young man told the woman that he was born with a chest problem and he has had to live with it since. He was about 30 years old or so. As they continued talking the lady mentioned that she was there because of an age-related problem which she coined “chemberitis” and laughed about it.
I looked at the seemingly strong young man that I could have thought was very fit had I not heard him talk about his problem. The two laughed about their situations and I couldn’t help but be drawn into deep thought about their beliefs on health.
So the young man narrated that year after year he braces for winter and expects his chest to trouble him as soon as temperatures fall and he prepares for a number of doctor’s visits till temperatures rise. The elderly woman also expects the aches and pains that come with aging, the chronic illnesses many associate with age and probably has a life expectancy age in her mind.
Some people were born with certain conditions that need attention every now and then. Others have hereditary conditions that they “expect” to have because their parents and grandparents also had them. It’s as if they live expecting to get those conditions and would actually be surprised if they don’t get them.
Living with such expectations of negative health doesn’t seem like living at all, but millions of people lead such lives and know no other life. A lot of time is spent thinking of the disease or condition, researching it, expecting it and then they get disappointed when they ‘finally’ get it.
An elderly person who indulges in a number of activities fares better in health than one who spends time complaining of old age and the health issues that “come” with it. Others even limit their lives by stating that they won’t reach a certain age. What people do not realise is that the mind is very powerful and once such things are stored in your mind they become beliefs and that which you believe comes true for you.
The placebo effect
People take medicine with the belief that it will cure their illness. When new medicines are being tested human volunteers are given medicine to see how it works while other volunteers are given placebos and are made to believe that they are also taking medicine. Surprisingly, some of the volunteers given placebos or sugar pills show signs of recovery from disease through reduced symptoms. That simply proves the power of belief in something that can produce results.
Your beliefs shape your behaviour
Just as your beliefs in your capabilities push you to make great achievements in work or personal projects, beliefs in your health also yield results. A sick person who believes in the ability of the body to bounce back to good health after an illness will surely be up and about sooner than one who gets sick and doubts his recovery.
Form positive beliefs about your health
Remember beliefs are things we hold in our minds that we deem true. These are often learnt through experience. It is therefore, wise for us to form new beliefs about health if we are to lead healthy lives.
Your beliefs on health should encourage you to lead a healthy life or at least be conscious of what is acceptable and not when it comes to healthy living and how to be in control of your own health. While taking medication or whatever methods one employs to address their health issues it is important that the person also be in a healthy emotional state and also optimistic.
Not only do optimistic people have a better quality of life, they also live very long compared to those who are pessimistic. You will see that in some families, the whole lineage lives long lives. These people generally are happy people who believe their bodies can go on a little longer than we place life expectancy and hardly do they experience chronic illnesses and such challenges.
We should all choose to accept beliefs that move us towards positivity and good health. All round, our beliefs should push us to be whole, challenge us to do better and to forever keep improving our health and lives.