Feeding your mind…

Mass of low growing fall asters
Mass of low growing fall asters

“Continuous exposure to bad news—like bad eating habits—makes you sick.”

When our daughter was born back in the early 60’s I suddenly became interested in nutrition and eating a healthier diet. I had never thought about it for myself – I was a great fan of Cheerios and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – but it seemed really important for my little girl, and so I read all I could find in the library. I have never really quit trying to learn more – because over the 50+ years I have been tuned in to it – opinion on what is healthy has continued to evolve. The one thing I found everyone seemed to agree on then – and still agree on now – is that WHOLE natural foods are good for the body. This is what we survived on for thousands of years. So I figured the closer I came to just whole and natural and not tampered with or added to, the better. If it’s in a box – it’s questionable and shouldn’t be eaten often. Fortunately the “whole foods” way was also cheaper, and we could grow a lot of it ourselves.

Fall Asters in garden
Fall Asters in garden

I watched a movie last night called Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare which was interesting and well done. I highly recommend it and if you can’t find a way to see it in the theater you can watch it online for $0.99 or buy a dvd of it for $10 and share it with friends. One of the conclusions that many top minds of science and healthcare have come to – that hasn’t trickled down to most of the medical professionals yet – is that “we are what we eat!”. Changing our diets to more natural whole foods would cure a huge amount of what ails the American people. They spend billions on pharmaceuticals that often don’t work and make them sicker. It’s really very sad that we have not been taught the critical effects the foods we eat have on our health and well being. But that is another story for another time.

The thing that came together in my mind this morning was triggered by an email I got from The Intelligent Optimist. I get The Optimist Daily email and really enjoy starting my day with it. What they said in this special email was put in a new way and really struck me:

”Mainstream media only report about whatever goes wrong. They spread fear and disaster.And they leave their audiences feeling helpless.

There’s a lot of research about “learned helplessness,” as is the psychological term. And that research points in one direction: Feeling helpless undermines the immune system—which is how disease starts—and feeds depression. Continuous exposure to bad news—like bad eating habits—makes you sick.”

I guess it was the last line that put it all together in my mind. That what we feed our minds is just as important to our health as what we feed our body. I remember reading an article by Dr. Andrew Weil several years ago talking about the toxic effects that reading the news has on us and so I quit watching or reading the news. I scan the headlines once in a while – but find that nothing terrible has happened to me because I have not kept up with all the bad things going on in the world. What I have been doing the last 20 yrs. or so is searching out good news and good news sources. The Intelligent Optimist is one, Yes! Magazine is another, and Utne Reader is pretty good at finding stories with a positive bent. Now that I can get so much news online I find that Grist is one of my favorite sources of environmental news because they dish it up with humor. They are strictly online as is Upworthy– another of my morning favorites for good news stories. If you want news of a positive nature, you can find it in many places! When I am in a group of people and the subject of what is going on in the world comes up I invariably have a very different view of the condition of things than most of the people I know, and I guess it must be because I have spent so many years immersed in stories of all the good things that humans are doing around the world! This gives me a sense of optimism in the midst of economic challenges and climate change and politics and all the challenging things that I KNOW are going on in the world. It’s not that I’m oblivious to the problems we face. It’s just that over the years I have developed a strong confidence in the ability of humanity to solve these problems. Part of this confidence comes from living as long as I have and watching how we have improved over time. Granted I get frustrated sometimes at how slowly we seem to move – and get impatient, but the over-riding knowledge is that we CAN do it and we ARE doing it! I was an organic food fan long before you could actually buy it anywhere. You had to grow your own. So I have gotten to see the progression from utter ignorance – to it being something that nearly everyone is aware of and understands, even if they don’t buy it and eat it. You can buy organic food in nearly every supermarket in the USA now. I went into a supermarket in the small town we moved to in the Florida panhandle in 1999 and asked in the produce department if they carried organic food. The guy said “what’s organic?!”. Two years later they had an organic food section. I believe that one day all our food will be “organic”, that enough of us will finally understand what eating food grown with toxic chemicals does to our bodies and our planet and quit doing it.

Closeup of low growing fall Asters
Closeup of low growing fall Asters

We humans have the ability to change and grow and evolve for the better, and we are doing it continually. We’re getting smarter and wiser all the time. So I know that one day we are going to really GET how bad it is for us to keep immersing ourselves in bad news, or films about terror and destruction and evil, or spending our time together talking about those things, and our time alone THINKING or reading about those things. Like Jurriaan Kamp of the Intelligent Optimist said so well this morning “Continuous exposure to bad news—like bad eating habits—makes you sick”. If the only thing the people you hang out with are willing to talk about is bad news – maybe you need to find some friends who are willing to be positive and upbeat, who will laugh with you. The Readers Digest had a section called Laughter is the Best Medicine, and I think they really nailed it with that title. Laughing is one of my favorite pastimes and I like being with people who enjoy seeing the humor in things. There was a doctor once who cured himself of cancer with laughter – immersed himself in things that made him laugh.

So – it strikes me that the simple prescription for health and well-being is actually pretty nice. It’s not some foul tasting medicine like cod liver oil that you need to take every day (or some astronomically expensive drug!) – but simple whole foods, good news, happy thoughts and upbeat people around you! That sounds like it could actually be fun, doesn’t it? What a great prescription for what ails you – take a walk in nature everyday with people who like to laugh, come home and eat a salad – or a nice bowl of homemade soup. Smile a lot. What could be more healing for an ailing world than a lot of happy, healthy, optimistic people?

California asters in bloom
California asters in bloom – abuzz with happy honey bees!
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