Health & SpiritualityPlant-based Lifestyle

How Can I achieve Optimal Health?

Secret #8 - Trust in God

The last secret to optimal health is about to be revealed! But if you haven’t read the introduction on Essentials for Optimal Health yet, you won’t want to miss it and you can read that right HERE.

The last “T” in NEWSTART, your journey to optimal health stands for Trust in Divine power. This last principle, Secret #8, is actually the key to unlocking all the benefits of Secrets #1-7. This principle is all about your thinking habits and how you are using your mental energies to either promote health and healing or to sabotage your best efforts in other areas.

The opposite of trust is anxiety, stress, and worry. Most people have at least some areas of their life where these emotions are a reality. Understanding how this can impact your health is the first step in making positive changes.

Impact of Stress and Hostility on Health

Many things about life cause stress to all of us. Many of these stressors are beyond our control. Identifying them can be the first step to managing them. Not dealing with these areas of our life can literally rob us of years of life. Some interesting studies have been conducted by the University of North Carolina. One of these studies involved giving medical school students the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Part of this inventory includes questions that measure levels of hostility. Hostility isn’t just anger, but includes attitudes of mistrust or cynicism which are actually the most common manifestations. Most of the students taking this test were about 25 years old. Then they followed these individuals for a many years. The study results showed that those who scored in the upper half of their class on hostility levels were five times more likely to develop heart disease by the age of 50 than those who scored the lowest! That is 500% greater risk. They were also seven times more likely to have died by age 50 from all causes combined. This reflects incredibly powerful risk factors. Researchers from Mayo that higher levels of hostility were also reflected in wide ranging physical measurements that included the following:

  • Higher total cholesterol
  • Higher triglycerides
  • Higher fasting glucose levels
  • Lower quality of life scores.

University of North Carolina did a similar study to the one described above but conducted it on law students. Those scoring high in hostility also experienced high mortality rates. In fact, by age 50, 20% of them had died, compared with only 4 percent of those scoring low for hostility!

If these negative emotions and thought patterns are allowed to bear sway, they weaken our immune system and make us vulnerable to disease. This is why it is so important to deal with conflict and negativity in our lives sooner rather than later.

Effect of Positive Thought Habits

On the other hand, positive habits of thinking promote emotions such as love, joy, faith, and trust that actually strengthen our immune system and protect us from disease. A classic example of this is my own mother. For as far back as I can remember, she has cultivated the habit of looking on the bright side of life. She is nearly 90 years old but continues to be vivacious, cheerful, involved in her community teaching and mentoring others, and enjoys excellent health. She does not suffer from any of the common chronic diseases that plague so many of her peers and those much younger than her. If you ask her how she has managed to keep this positive attitude, she will tell you that the key has been her habit of trusting in God to guide her life, to provide for her needs, and thus avoiding chronic anxiety, worry, and other health-destroying negative thought patterns. And believe me, it’s not because she has had an easy life.

King Solomon stated “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” We are finding that that is a very strong psychological statement, not just a spiritual truth. In our brains there is a neuropeptide (type of protein) that has an interesting chemical structure. It is a molecule with a twist to it and can be split at different places, creating different chemicals. If split on one side of the twist it becomes and endorphin, which gives us a sense of pleasure or joy. If split on the other side it leads to the release of stress hormones that make us feel bad, depressed, and sad. It turns out that the attitudes we bring to a situation can make the difference in how we feel. When we run into a problem, how do we face it? If someone treats us badly, how do we react?

The Role of Choice

Believe it or not, what we choose to think, how we decide to face problematic situations is completely a choice on our part. One of the best things we can do to make the right choice easier is to improve our diet. We are discovering that there are strong links between how we feel and think and what we eat. Our bodies actually have different physical responses to stress based on whether we are getting high quality nutrition or not. But beyond food choices, we must be intentional in how we choose to react in a variety of situations. Those choices can actually have life and death effects and can override any benefits we might be experiencing due to healthy lifestyle choices in other area. One of the most powerful choices we can make is to choose to forgive those who have hurt or wronged us – whether or not they ask for it or even recognize what they have done. By choosing to forgive, we can experience a real freedom that promotes health and positive relationships.

How to Build Trust and Decrease Hostility

Being able to trust God is one of the best things you can do for your health. Often as we look around, even at our friends and families, we can be tempted to ask, Who can I really trust? Every human being, even those closest to us, will at some point disappoint us and leaving us asking, is there anyone I can always count on to be there for me? I’ve found through personal experience that the only person I can truly lean on and that will NEVER let me down is God.  Trust in Divine power means getting to know God well enough to trust Him for present and future well-being. But that doesn’t happen overnight. Just as it takes repeated experiences of trust that is honored to build trust with your best friend or soulmate, it is the same when building that trust with God. Trust is a lot like a bank account; if you build it up through daily deposits, it’s there when you need it for an emergency.

Start by taking regular time on a daily basis to get to know Him. Some great ways to do that are to talk to Him through prayer and listen to Him through his love letter to you – the Bible. For more free resources to help you with this, check out the list of links below.  Just like we get to know and trust a friend through spending time conversing with them, we can do the same with God. Connecting with a community of faith can also provide us with encouragement as we get to know God better. Invest in an inexpensive compilation of Bible promises that you can use to specifically ask God for help in areas of life that are challenging and watch to see how He works to fulfill your needs. This is one that I really like. If you like to write, keep a simple journal and record things you are grateful for, Bible verses you find that are special to you, and anything else that is encouraging to you.

Here is your challenge – Identify any areas where you need to resolve conflicts and make a plan to move forward in that area in some way in the next 24 hours. What will you do? Make a phone call? Write a letter? Choose to let go of some pain or insult? Be assured that what ever you do, cultivating a forgiving spirit and a habit of trust in God can bring true joy to your soul and health to your whole being. Just do it!


Health by Choice, not by Chance by Drs. Diehl and Ludington

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