Your Brain, Turkey & Perspectives on Life

So this weekend I drove up north to meet my parents for thanksgiving dinner. After 3 hours driving alongside 10,000 other city folk who had the same idea, I finally arrived… and I was HUNGRY. Thanksgiving comes once a year and when it does, I look forward to stuffing my face. After what seemed an eternity, I finally sat down at the table with my parents to enjoy our nice fat, mouthwatering, scrumptious thanksgiving… chicken?

That’s right, since there was only going to be 3 of us, and 14 pounds of turkey between 3 people seemed a bit indulgent, dad opted for a chicken instead.

Here’s how conversation went down:

Dad: “Hey Bud (yes my dad calls me Bud), guess what?! We got a big chicken this year instead of a turkey!” 

Jesse: “Huh? What? A chicken? Why would you get a chicken? What were you thinking, it’s thanksgiving, who eats chicken on thanksgiving?”

Dad: “Hmm, well now that you mention it, I’m not really sure WHAT I was thinking. Sh#*! I should have gotten a turkey!”

So at this moment, interestingly enough, it wasn’t my dad’s colourful choice of words that hit me, it was the look of disappointment on his face… the sudden loss of spirit, the stoop of posture and the subtle ‘sigh’ of regret. Just a flash mind you, but enough for me to notice. Enough to get me thinking…

One of the most powerful components of healthcare does not come from technology or cybernetics, medication or even the skillful hands of a therapist. It comes from the client’s perspective of their life. Life in it’s entirety, as well as day to day.

No need to worry, I’m not flaking out on you… It’s actually a scientific and biological reality. Your perspectives and beliefs influence your health.

In fact there’s been a lot of research done on the effect your mind has not only on your cellular biology in the general sense, but possibly your genetic disposition as well. It’s opened a profoundly deep vault of information and many new inspiring possibilities. The basic biology of it is simple. Your cells are little machines working hard at their appointed job, this keeps you healthy. A cell’s functioning is dependent on the proper chemistry provided in the blood and interstitial fluids that surround it. A very significant influence on the make-up of that chemistry is your brain, or more specifically, how your mind perceives things.

To illustrate how perceptions can influence your health, lets analyze that thanksgiving chicken conversation I had with my dad…

The truth is, I really like chicken, and while our conversation did not change the reality of us cooking a big meal and spending thanksgiving together as a family, what could have changed was our perception of the event.

If I was truly stuck on turkey, I simply would not have enjoyed the meal. Feeling ripped-off and disappointed would have prompted my brain to start pumping out all kinds of behavioural influenced hormones that would wreak havoc on my poor little cells. This would have left me in a bad mood, likely given me a headache, indigestion, insomnia and left me constipated and groggy in the morning. My parents, who normally would have been happy just to finally have me visit, would have been left feeling sad, regretful, and disappointed, all mental states that certainly have a negative impact on your health. You see, the entire experience could have been very different, simply because of perceptions.

I’m certainly not implying that all injuries and/or health problems can completely be resolved by simply modifying your perceptions, but your mind does have an unquestionable influence on your body. The right ‘headspace’ can implement the production of healthy chemistry, thereby influencing your cells to work properly and initiate your natural innate healing mechanisms. You can actually do a lot with your mind, if you just put your mind to it.

So back to that whole family thanksgiving chicken thing. In all but a blink of the eye, and a burst of sudden enlightening recognition, I caught myself perceiving this situation from a bad angle… so here’s how the conversation finished off:

Jesse: “Actually, it is a pretty nice looking chicken.”

Dad: “It might be the biggest chicken I’ve ever seen. It’s also cooked to perfection, of course.”

Jesse: “We still have stuffing and mash potatos and all that stuff right?”

Mom: “Don’t forget the pumpkin pie. I made two.”

It’s amazing how much you can enjoy eating yourself into a coma, if you just have the right mindset.

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