Let's have some fun – I want you to look around you and take notice of everything that's brown. I want you to memorize everything you can see that has the color brown. Take a few seconds and do that now...
Now when you're ready, close your eyes. I want you to recall everything in the room that has the color... blue. Not that easy, right, and that is the power of your RAS, something called the reticular activating system. It's a function of our brains that helps us filter out everything that's not important. This is to make sure that only necessary information gets through to our brain, so we don't have to process everything. What this also means is that the RAS will keep validating our existing beliefs.
Why is that important? Well, when it comes to immunity, negativity, worry, and fear-based thoughts have been proven to down-regulate our immune function and even increase inflammation. So we wanna be very careful and vigilant with what information we expose ourselves to. We need to exercise mental hygiene when it comes to what thoughts, ideas, and narratives we actually allow to affect us – that we allow ourselves to be programmed with.
There are studies on people who worked as cleaners who were informed that their job actually fulfilled the recommended amount of daily exercise by health authorities. Just by learning this and changing nothing else, they lost weight and improved several health markers in a few weeks compared to the control group, which did the exact same work but didn't know that it counted as exercise.
So the mind can act as a multiplier on whatever it is you're doing.
Next, I want to mention mainstream media and the news in particular. This is part of a much bigger discussion but just be aware that they do not have your best interest at heart. Their business model is based on triggering the fear center in our brain so that we keep consuming more of their product. In a sense, it becomes an addiction – when our fear center gets triggered. We want to get back to some state of security, safety, and certainty. So, in order to do this, our first reaction is normally to try to stay "on top of things" by consuming reading watching more of their product, which leads to MORE ad revenue for them. Make no mistake. They are in the business of getting eyeballs and attention. And so this never-ending spiral of negativity and fear will continue until you break it by simply stop consuming news.
Another thing is negative people. Negativity is infectious and toxic, so you might wanna cut down on time you spend around negative people and spend more time around positive people, consume more positive information, positive news, etc.
It's all a matter of choice. We can choose exactly what kind of information we consume, what kind of people we hang out with – we have the buffet laid out in front of us. We have access to everything. Everything is going on in the world, at the same time, the whole spectrum from positive to negative. We have free will, so the question is what we choose to focus on.
One more thing I wanna mention is social media. The link between social media and depression is very clear now, and if you think about it – how often do you spend time on social media and leave in a positive, uplifted state? Never, right? So you might wanna be aware of that and use it very deliberately.
Now, if negativity and fear lower our immune function, is there anything we can do to lift it?
Laughter is the best medicine, right? It's a cliche for a reason. There are a ton of proven benefits of laughing, but in particular, there is a clear link between laughter and improved immunity.
Laughing decreases the levels of stress hormones and increases the number of immune cells and antibodies.
Another thing we can do to improve our attitude is to change our physiology. We know that when we feel bad, we're sad or depressed, we tend to slouch down and assume a defeated, hopeless body structure. But when we're really happy and feel on top of the world, we stand more erect and move with a completely different posture.
This also works the other way around. By assuming a physical pose, we can actually influence our minds through our physiology. So if we force ourselves to assume a miserable slouching posture, we will start feeling depressed and miserable. Whereas if we stand up erect and straight, shoulders back and chest open, we will feel happier, better, more positive, and energetic. So this is a very easy way to flip the switch and get ourselves into a higher and more positive state. It's also another good reason to always be mindful of your posture.
Reflection: listening to this, did anything occur to you that is a healthy habit you're already doing that you didn't think of before? Can you put this on top of your mind, so you're aware that it is healthy while you are doing it?
Rate your mental hygiene from 1-10. What is one thing you can do to improve it immediately, starting today?