Positive Thinking Improves Health Better than a Placebo

think positive
Mind & Body

think positiveIn a paradigm shifting book written by Dr. Larry Dossey, Reinventing Medicine: Beyond Mind-Body to a New Era of Healing, he gives scientifically supported evidence to suggest that compassion, empathy, generosity and sharing have an overwhelming effect on our health. In his book, he maps some relatively ‘strange’ methods of healing that are steeped in our cultural traditions from thousands of years ago, including all things psycho-spiritual: intercessory prayer, telepathy, intuition, precognition, prophetic dreams to detect physical illnesses before they appear in the body, and more.

If these types of healing modalities seem like an odd collection of circus tricks, consider that positive thinking has already been proven to help treat the sick and ailing. This might be a good starting place to understand the efficacy of the more ‘out there’ modalities.

Thoughts are powerful. Patients given a placebo pill often respond well in over 30% percent of the cases studied, no matter the disease. The pill isn’t what heals them, it is the belief that it will. When we focus our minds on a good outcome, a positive solution to a physical crisis, it gets better – pure and simple. Still others will argue that you can only heal the body by healing the consciousness.

As Dossey explains:

“Eventually it becomes clear that our emotions, attitudes, and thoughts profoundly affect our bodies, sometimes to the degree of life or death. Soon mind-body effects were recognized to have positive as well as negative impacts on the body. This realization came largely from research on the placebo effect—the beneficial results of suggestion, expectation, and positive thinking.”

Martin Seligman of the positive psychology movement agrees, especially when it comes to mental health. Seligman and his contemporaries decided to look at psychology differently after WWII, when they noticed that only the pathology of mental health was researched.

“The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life. To redress the previous imbalance, we must bring the building of strength to the forefront in the treatment and prevention of mental illness,” Seligman says.

We do know that when we are happy, or feel love or gratitude, our immune system is boosted. There are other physiological changes that happen when we think ‘good’ thoughts, and these could very well contribute to a spontaneous healing, even if its just of the common cold. Consider: the way you think is the cornerstone to reaching happiness and your health goals.

Additional Sources:

ABC News