Positive Thoughts Equal Positive Health
Just as there is a mountain of evidence to prove the negative effects of negative emotions, there is a growing mound of evidence proving that the opposite is true. When you are thinking positive thoughts your brain responds in some really cool ways. The amygdala also responds when you are feeling good and fMRI scans show that a portion of the brain connected to the reward center, the nucleus accumbens, is also active. When our brain feels something positive it releases positive neurotransmitters and hormones that raise the effectiveness of the immune system. Here I will list some of the awesome research that has been done to support the understanding that positive thoughts lead to positive health.
It doesn’t take much to have a positive effect on the white blood cell production in the body. Simple relaxation techniques can increase production of some very valuable disease fighting cells. The Glasers also did research to show the effect of positive thought on white cell production. They found that reduced stress and positive emotions can boost the immune activity. Patients who were guided through relaxation practice 3 times a week significantly increased their NK (natural killer cells) and T cell activity. They also had students practice relaxation before examinations. Even though they had a general reduction in some immune function due to the stress of the impending tests, they actually had an increase in helper T cells.
Cancer has been an area of intense research when it comes to the mind body connection. Studies on relaxation and creative imagination as an additional form of therapy in combating this disease have shown some crazy good results. By having patients put these techniques into practice researchers found that it lead to an increase in several cells connected to the immune system. It effectively stimulated the production of lymphocytes, increasing the production of antibodies and interlukin-2 cells, and enhance Natural Killer cell activity. 
Meditation closely connected to relaxation practice is also effective in increasing immune cell production. Norman Cousins found after just 5 minutes of positive thought meditation there was an average increase of 53% in various components of his immune system. His NK (natural killer) cells increased by 30% and his antibody coated T cells increased their count by 200%!
When I read this it was of particular interest to me because of a health challenge that my mother-in-law had. Twenty-eight years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. They did surgery and removed 9 lymph nodes; 5 tested positive for cancer. She was determined to treat the disease naturally and not with chemotherapy or radiation. She went to the Livingston/Wheeler Clinic in San Diego for a holistic approach to treatment. One of the very first things that she was instructed to do daily was meditation. She was told to visualize her white blood cells as soldiers that were sent out to attack and destroy the invading cancer cell army. I am happy to say that 28 years later we still have my mother-in-law with us and she is still cancer free. Now I am not making the bold statement that meditation cured her; she did a whole series of things. However, it is interesting that the doctors realized that a key component in her beating the cancer was this form of meditation and I am fully confident that it was a contributing factor in her immune system overcoming her illness.
Humor is another great way to enhance the activity in the immune system. Dr. Walsh, a founding father in this field, found that laughter stimulates the internal organs, making them work better through the increase of circulation that follows the vibrating massage that accompanies it, and heightens resistive vitality against disease. His research goes way back to 1928!
More recently, a Swedish study demonstrated how the use of humor also improves the quality of life and symptom relief. It does this by creating the body’s own medications. The brain is like a natural pharmacy. It can release a combination of endorphins and enkephalins that have an analgesic or pain killing effect on the body. Therefore, laughter has immediate symptom relieving effects on the body. No aspirin needed here!
Stanford Medical School has also been doing research in this area. Dr. William Fry, in the department of psychiatry, compares laughter to physical exercise. He found that just 20 seconds of laughter is the equivalent of 3-5 minutes of strenuous rowing.  Now that puts a whole new twist on a cardio workout.
I love all of this tangible proof. One of my favorite studies to quote in any of my presentations covering this topic is one done by Dr. Kathleen M. Dillon of Western New England College. She measured the sigA (salivary immunoglobulin A) in a group of students to establish a baseline. Next, she had them watch just 30 minutes of humorous tapes. When they were finished she re-measured the sigA. Across the board, in every student there was a significant increase.
Another favorite of mine was conducted by D.C. McClelland at Harvard Medical University. He had his group watch a 50 minute film about Mother Teresa. This film was specifically designed to induce positive emotions. As with the Dillon study, McClelland found that they also had a significant increase in their sigA. It is important to note that the sigA is believed to have a protective capacity against some viruses. In this day and age we need all of the immune system reinforcement we can get.
At Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, Dr. Lee S. Berk conducted a study on the effects of laughter on hormone levels, good and bad, in the body. He measured the changes in several different components in his test subjects before and after they watched humorous films. He found that there was significant increases in spontaneous immune cell proliferation. An added plus: not only was there an increase in the good cells, but there was a noticeable decrease in cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that has an immune-suppressing effect when it is too high in the body.
Positive emotions don’t only affect our immune system and its activity. It also can have a positive effect on our internal organs. Walter Cannon, a frequently quoted researcher, found that under times of heightened positive emotion the spleen could actually increase its red blood cell population. In some cases up to 15% more.
Dr. William Hitzig noted that the sed rate in his patient (Norman Cousins) after just a few moments of robust laughter decreased. As he continued to treat Mr. Cousins he found that the reduction held and that when laughter therapy was continued the effects were cumulative.
Dr. Fawzy Fawzy and Norman Cousins conducted research on the connection between cancer and liberation from depression in patients. They discovered that once a patient can conquer depression a large amount of natural killer cells increase in the body. This improves the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Research patients were put in support groups and given attitudinal therapy. The group as a whole showed evidence of enhanced immune activity. 
Some studies on positive thoughts, laughter, and meditation, while not actually measuring the effects on immune cell production, show proof of the effectiveness by studying the patients and their use of pain medications and recovery rates from diseases or injuries. Dr. Howard Benet noted that, in one study, patients who watched humorous shows used 60% less pain medication than those who did no viewing. Robin Dunbar of Oxford University conducted several studies on laughter as a pain killer. The results showed that subjects who laughed the most had the highest level of pain tolerance and, therefore, used the least amount of pain killers. While he did not actually measure the endorphin production in the brain, the physical response is enough to prove that laughter does indeed create a rise in endorphins within the brain. 
Just having a positive “I will beat this” type attitude has been shown to have a huge impact on the success rate in overcoming serious diseases. In interviewing some 649 cancer doctors who reported their findings on over 100,000 of their patients, Norman Cousins discovered that the doctors themselves felt that a positive attitude was critical as part of the treatment with their patients. Eighty percent of the doctors felt that a positive approach to the challenge of the illness was moderately to VERY important in the success rate of treatment.
Now the picture is brighter. Hopefully, if the first part of this discussion depressed you, this last section should have you feeling pretty good right about now. Knowing that there is scientific proof that the way we think can actually improve the activity in our immune system is powerful indeed. But there is so much more that I want to share with you–so very much more.
All of this evidence leads to the question: how? How does all of this work? In order to get a better picture, I want to cover a couple of more things with you about our body and brain. The nitty-gritty, if you will, of the biochemistry of emotions. I want to introduce you to the neuropeptide. Neuropeptides, hormone like substances that are information carriers to the brain, glands, and the immune system, are another interesting component to the mind body connection. Dr. Candace B. Pert, of the National Institute of Mental Health, found that the limbic system has a large amount of receptors for the neuropeptides. The amygdala and hypothalamus are heavy with receptors. Interestingly, the intestines are also richly imbued with neuropeptide receptors. Not only does this explain the reason for a gut feeling, but it also explains why at times of stress we can get physically sick to our stomachs.
Science has identified over 50 of these neuropeptides. Many emotions are influenced by the activity of neuropeptides. The receptors are the same as certain drugs, like opiates and PCP, which explains why these drugs have such a dramatic emotional effect on the body. But how does the immune system fit in?
The monocytes for example; they are “B” cells. This means that they are born in the bone marrow then, when grown up, travel through the body in search of dangerous foreign substances. Once they discover something that shouldn’t be there they will then digests it. They are also responsible for healing and tissue repair in the body. They have the ability to produce collagen and collagen is an important building material for the body.
Here it again gets really interesting. Research done by Robert Ornstein and Michael Ruff discovered that EVERY neuropeptide receptor that they had looked for was found on the human monocytes! These immune cells have receptors for many of these emotion/mood affecting neuropeptides. If that were not interesting enough, the researchers also found that these immune cells can themselves make neuropeptides. So the immune cells not only receive messages that come through the neuropeptides from the emotion center of the brain but they also are making the same chemicals that control mood in the brain. Fascinating!
I could go on but I think this is enough of the technical stuff. I think the overwhelming evidence here supports an undeniable connection between the way we think, the impact of our thought on our limbic system (emotion center), and the activity of the immune system. What we think, good or bad, will affect how well our body generates immune cells. Now, to bring it back to your brain personality connection and the impact of living true to who you are.
Imagine you are floating down a beautiful river. The current is moving you along nicely as you take in all of the amazing scenery you pass. You can hardly believe the vibrant colors there before you. The deep blue in the river, the dark greens in the mighty evergreens that line the shore, the dotted spots of purple and orange of the wildflowers growing by the water’s edge, and the puffy white clouds as they float through the powder blue sky. You feel the warmth of the sun on your body. Occasionally a cool breeze brushes by you, bringing with it the sweet fresh air of the mountains. You hear the chirping sound of the birds close by and the trickle of the occasional stream as it empties into the river. Life is almost effortless. You are content, at peace, and enjoying every moment you are there. Sure, you may need to put forth a little energy from time to time to prevent yourself from floating over to the shore but, for the most part, you are relaxed and just soaking it all in.
Now, picture yourself having to turn your canoe around and paddle upstream. Each moment is so very different than before. You are now fighting against the current instead of just easily floating. Each stroke becomes more and more difficult as your muscles begin to tire. The once warming sun is now beginning to overheat your body and you hardly notice the cool breeze anymore. The beautiful scenery you were once soaking in is now not even noticeable because you are so focused on maintaining your direction. The once amazing enjoyments of life are passing you by unnoticed and your life is now drudgery.
Compare this to living true to your brain personality connection or suppressing it. If you are in sync with your BPC your life, business, and relationships become so very enjoyable. Like floating down the river, you are expending little energy to move through life. Allowing you to absorb the wonderful experiences that come your way. However, if you are suppressing them, living each moment outside of your natural gifts, you are expending more energy every moment of your day than you really should, leaving you brain energy-exhausted. Plus, you are increasing negative emotions in your mind because you will feel the frustration, stress, and sadness that accompanies not living connected to natural gifts. And we know what this does to your health and even your length of life.
Arlene Taylor, who I have mentioned before in this manual, created an acronym for what she feels happens to you when you live in this situation for an extended period of time. She calls it P.A.S.S. or Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome. This syndrome, she feels, will cause symptoms of fatigue, hyper vigilance, immune system suppression, reduced function of the frontal lobes, altered neurochemistry, memory problems, discouragement or depression, and self-esteem problems. Definitely not a situation that many of us would chose to find ourselves in. Why is it, then, that so many people wind up living their lives this way? Part of the answer was discussed in the last unit. What a person’s birth order is, what their family expectations are, and what cultural or societal expectations are will greatly affect where we are living connected to our natural gifts. It is also so very important to note that the expectations we place on ourselves also have a tremendous impact on our ability to comfortably live true to our natural brain strengths.
This is why it is so powerful to gain clarity as to where your natural brain strengths are and, in turn, help your clients or those that you work with to do the same. When we stop fighting against, or emotionally beating up, ourselves and others for traits or skills connected to our/their biochemical brain makeup, we stop paddling upstream and start floating down. Our energy is conserved, our emotions are positive, and our immune system can function at its peak. THIS IS WERE THE TRUE POWER AND IMPORT OF THIS ENTIRE MANUAL ALL COMES TOGETHER! Aligning your life with your natural gifts, and assisting your clients to do the same, creates a dynamic shift in so many aspects of your lives. Every relationship improves; the weights are lifted from your shoulders; and most importantly, your very health and longevity is impacted in a positive way.
So, what is the next step? How do you facilitate this change in your life and that of your clients? That is what I want to discuss next.
Make the Change
The first step is, of course, the education. Helping your clients become completely clear about what their individual brain personality connection is. You may need to use the BPCA to help you do this. Let them know all of the aspects of the BPC making sure that they realize these are gifts, always reinforcing the positive. Things that do not fall into their gifted areas are not in any way, shape, or form a WEAKNESS. They are just areas that are not their natural strengths.
I like to illustrate it this way: For the last 15 years we have had horses. Part of equine care of course is feeding them hay. On a regular basis we would bring home a ton of hay, 20 bails weighing approximately 100 pounds each. Most of the time this was a family chore. My sons and I would all roll up our sleeves and all pitch in. When the boys were young, I of course could lift more than the boys but, as they got older, it didn’t take them long to pass me up in their ability to unload the truck. When my 6’3” very athletic son unloads the truck he will with apparent ease grab a bail, lift it up, and, as if it were a bag of groceries, move it into the barn. It takes him a matter of minutes to unload an entire ton of hay. Needless to say he is very strong! Now when I unload the truck, as I often do, I will push a bail off the truck, flip it end-over-end into the barn, then with knees bent and all of my power I will lift the bail into place on the stack. I will successfully unload a ton of hay; however, it take MUCH longer than my son. Does this mean I am weak? NO WAY! A ton of hay is still a ton of hay. It just takes me more energy expended to accomplish the same job as my well fit, strong son. I’m just not as strong as him in that area.
It is the same with the brain. Just because a certain task or use of a certain skill is not in your area of strength it does not mean you are weak- it does not mean you are lacking something. It is just how it is; it is your biochemical makeup. Learn where your strengths and non-strengths lie and of course help those who you are working with do the same. Once you become completely clear it is now time for the next step…let it settle and be loud and proud!
Realizing and owning your BPC is very important and a huge confidence builder. As the days, weeks, and months pass by, after learning it or helping your clients learn it, more and more facets of your life will become clear. You will understand so many things about yourselves and those around you: it is amazing! As the information settles in your mind you will naturally start to be loud and proud. It is especially important that you share with your close circle of friends and relatives. You will be making some changes and you will want to let people know why. Share the different aspects of why you do what you do.
Take your sensory modality, for example. When you are in communication with someone tell them, “I have a visual way of processing things. Can you draw me the picture or help me see what it is you are trying to tell me?” Or, as I have said to my husband many times, “I am an auditory. You have to tell me what you are thinking. I am not gifted at feeling (he is a kinesthetic) the message you are trying to send; you have to tell me.” Start using phrases like “This is the way my brain works.” Or “I recently learned that this is/isn’t my brain strength.” The more you say it audibly the more your brain will become comfortable sliding into its natural gifts. The next step…take action.
Understand that in some areas of life you can make immediate changes and others may need to be gradual. Again I refer to my own experience. Most of my life I was spending in my posterior lobes. Functioning primarily in my life as a mix of Master Coordinator and Nurturer. Then I discovered that I have a strong Innovator BQD. Needless to say I was brain-exhausted. The first and almost immediate thing I did was to call my husband and inform him that we needed to hire an office person to take care of the Master Coordinator functions in our business, ASAP. Simple, easy fix to that energy intensive task.
Now for the large amount of time I was spending as a Nurturer. This one was not as easy. You see I was, and of course still am, the very proud mama of three sons whom, at the time, I was teaching at home. This I could not immediately and quickly outsource, but I could manage my brain energy expenditure within that role. I began to teach in a more brain friendly way and did not pay as much attention to the paperwork details which simply were not really needed. I made sure that we were doing creative Innovator lessons that matched all of our brain strengths better. As for those posterior left brain tasks that just simply had to be done well, I worked hard at making sure that I didn’t spend to long of periods of time processing those functions.
This is an important part. If you are at the beginning of a career, looking at other available options might be something that you want to do. However, I would never want anyone who has invested many years in a career to all of a sudden say, “I quit! This doesn’t’ match my brain.” That would be foolish for many reasons. With work the key is in management of tasks. If the majority of the required tasks for your position are far outside of your natural brain gifts first evaluate if there are any changes or adjustments that could be made. Is there another position within the company that you could transfer to that might fit your BPC better? If so, consider the move. If that is not an option, can you adjust the routine that you do your work tasks in? Can you break up the non-strength tasks with fun energizing tasks that match your brain strength? If all of these are just not available options, then make sure you surround yourself with things that your BPC likes. Positive quotes, stress balls or brains, funny pictures or sayings that keep your brain going. Create a brain friendly work environment, as much as you can. Set a timer and stand up every 30 minutes. Drink plenty of water. Do a brain puzzle every hour. All of this will help you get through your work day. Then make the best use of your non-work time. Arrange to spend as much of the time while you are not at work doing things that match your BPC. Spend weekends doing projects that invigorate you and your brain. It will charge your battery, so to speak, for the next week of work. The key in this situation is task management.
If you are an entrepreneur the key is to outsource! Owning your own business requires use of your full brain. At times you are the only person to do what is needed. The key is creating a strong team to support you in your business and care for the tasks that you do not absolutely HAVE to do. You need to build a team to carry out the tasks that are not connected to your natural brain strengths. I will go into step-by-step detail how to do this in unit 9. For now, know that this is crucial, not just for your own sanity, but also, for the success for your business.
The point of this step is to be proactive about aligning your day-to-day activities, as much as you can, to match your natural gifts. When you do, your energy level will increase in a very positive way. Living true to your natural gifts will do amazing things to help you be more positive. At times, though, this may not be enough and, considering the information that we covered in this unit, it is important-even imperative-to have and maintain a positive outlook and positive emotions. Since this is the case, next you will find outlined 21 steps that I feel will be very instrumental in creating and maintaining a positive mindset.
 “Psychological enhancement of immunocompetence in a geriatric population.” Health Psychology 4 (1985) 24-41 and Journal of Behavioral Medicine 9 (1986) 5-21, J.K. Kiecolt-Glaser, R. Glaser and Associates
 Dr. Berry L Gruber, Medical Illness Counseling Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Dr. Nicholas R. Hall of George Washington University. “Immune system and psychological changes in metastatic cancer patients while using ritualized relaxation and guided imagery: A pilot study,” Scandinavian Journal of Behavioral Therapy 17 (1988) 25-46
 Head First The Biology of Hope and Healing of the Human Spirit. Norman Cousins, Penguin Books 1988
 a brain secretion that is similar to endorphins
 Lars Ljungdahl, “Laugh If This Is a Joke,” Journal of the American Medical Association 261 ( 1989) 558
 Insight Magazine, May 25th 1987, 59
 “Positive emotional states and enhancement of the immune system.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 15 (1985-86) 13-17 K. M. Dillon, B. Minchoff, and K. H. Baker
 “The effect of motivational arousal through films on salivary immunoglobulin A” DC McClelland and C Kirshnit, Psychology and Health 2 (1988) 31-52
 Head First- The Biology of Hope and Healing of the Human Spirit. Norman Cousins, Penguin Books 1988, 330
 Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage, Walter Cannon (New York: W.W. Norton, 1936)
 Sedimentation Rate: a blood test that can reveal inflammatory activity in your body
 Head First- The Biology of Hope and Healing of the Human Spirit. Norman Cousins, Penguin Books 1988, 277
 December, 2003 issue of the Southern Medical Journal Volume 96, #12
 Time Magazine article “It’s No Joke. Why Laughter Kills Physical Pain.” 9-14-2011
 Head First- The Biology of Hope and Healing of the Human Spirit. Norman Cousins, Penguin Books 1988, 219
 The Healing Brain. A Scientific Reader. Robert E. Ornstein, Ph. D. and Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., The Guilford Press 153