Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Science of Rejoicing

I love reading books about the brain and body (i.e. the mind/body connection) because I always learn something about why God tells us to do what he does.  Look at this (see below for the reference to the book I'm quoting)...

"Any form of negative rumination - for example, worrying about your financial future or health - will stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals." (p25)

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?... Matthew 6:25-34

"Human brains like to ruminate on negative fantasies, and they're also odd in another way: they respond to positive and negative fantasies as if they were real." (p27)

"There is mounting evidence that strongly negative terms can interrupt the normal expression of genes that regulate one of the most important language centers of the brain, Wernicke's area.  This is where we learn how to interpret the meaning of words.  Hostile language also appears to disrupt specific genes that are instrumental in the production of neurochemicals that protect us from physiological stress, and if we are exposed to it during childhood, it can undermine our ability to fend off anxiety, depression, and fear." (p33)

In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:7-8

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

"But imagination is a two-way street. If you intensely focus on a word like "peace" or "love," the emotional centers in the brain calm down... This is the neurological power of positive thinking, and to date it has been supported by hundreds of well-designed studies." (p27)

"Certain words - like 'peace' and 'love' - may actually have the power to alter the expression of genes throughout the brain and body." (p28)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in you hearts. to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:14

"According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world's leading researchers on happiness, if you want to develop lifelong satisfaction you should regularly engage in positive thinking about yourself, share your happiest events with others and savor every positive experience in your life." (p31)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:4-7

"...Concentrating and meditating on positive thoughts, feelings, and outcomes can be more powerful than any drug in the world, especially when it comes to changing old habits, behaviors, and beliefs." (p35)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

And, the definition of some of God's favorite words:

Rejoice - to feel joy or great delight
Delight - to take great pleasure
Joy - the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

When I know the reason why something should be done, it is so much easier for me to carry it out(which is great motivation for me to try to dig down to find out WHY God wants me to conduct my life a certain way!).  After ingesting all of the above information, I realized that rejoicing is a lot easier than I have ever thought it was.  In this case, the reason God wants us to manage our thoughts is because of how they can so dramatically affect our entire life.  His wanting us to think positively and trust him instead of worrying is clear proof to me that he wants us to be peaceful and healthy.  

When we dwell on and enjoy the well being that we have (especially our spiritual well being, since that is more real and lasting than any other form of health), it changes our perspective and heals us, as scientific research is now able to spell out in black and white.  

It is easy to enjoy life if we choose to fixate on every good thing that happens to us, and every kind thing that God and Jesus Christ have done and will do for us.  In the past couple of months, I have been able to experience this joy first hand as have finally started learning how to focus on good things and let go of unpleasant events, and my personal need to be upset, worried, afraid, etc.

I love how good science proves God every time!

Excerpts from:
Words Can Change Your Brain 
by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman
Copyright 2012 Hudson Street Press

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