That Shakespearean quote: “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” is famous because it so simply conveys our experience of the way our perceptions colour our world, while at the same time, in just a few words, raising philosophical questions about the nature of reality and whether good and evil objectively exist.
We all know our thoughts can affect us, but this summer an extraordinary study was published that shows just how powerful these effects can be – not just on our view of the world, our feelings and health, but on how long we actually live. A study of over 61,000 people over 21 years came to this startling conclusion: “People who believed they weren’t as active as their peers were 71 percent more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than were people who believed they had a more active lifestyle… This result remained even after controlling for actual amounts of activity, chronic illnesses, age and other demographic and health factors.” The key word here is ‘believed’. If you believed you weren’t as active, regardless of whether you were or not, you were more likely to die younger.
The creative power of thought has always been a favourite topic of psychologists, mystics and magicians. It’s a subject that can bring them together – in forums such as the Mystics and Scientists Conferences and the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group, which has 3,000 members, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
I don’t think I’ve come across a study that more powerfully demonstrates the value of working with the power of thought – a power we all possess inside us: to heal, to create, to be a force for good in our own lives and in the wider world.
Read a Press Release about the Study here (with a link in it to the paper itself.)
And here’s a video produced by the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists: