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Think You Can

Since completing my 40th lap around the sun in May of 2021, I have spent a greater amount of time focusing on or at least trying to be more consciously aware of my thoughts. It was shocking, and still is at times, to acknowledge my chronological age. My mind can automatically generate a myriad of thoughts such as "40 is half way to 80", "I remember when my parents were 40", "Is this some kind of mistake because it feels like I am still in my late 20's maybe early 30's", or "Why does this seem like it was all a big flash? Where did the time go?"

I spent the start of my 3rd decade completing a career shift into Physical Health and Wellness, having completed my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. This action came about after a reflection or thought that there has to be a better way to help people find solutions to their physical problems. Just like anyone who is reading this, we all have our own individual experiences with the medical system. Traditional medicine was telling me there weren't many options and that this is just the way things were going to be. I thankfully didn't listen to them. Having experienced a number of ineffective medical interventions, I continued my search for a path to health and wellness. Having found a couple of medical professionals operating outside of the status quo, I became hopeful again and quickly found my way back to health thanks to their ability to effectively break down complex problems into manageable opportunities for change.

The purpose of this blog post is to share with you something that I recently learned that carries a great deal of potential to help you face any of your complex problems and find manageable opportunities to make positive change. This information comes from Dr. Marc Bubbs book titled, "Peak 40: The New Science of Mid-Life Health for a Leaner, Stronger Body, and a Sharper Mind". Bubbs explains the mid life U shaped curve discovered by a research project looking at 132 countries in the world on15 measures of unhappiness. What the study found was a trend for overall level of happiness to drop during middle age to later return to higher levels later in life. Seeking to further explain what factors help determine happiness, genetics and external circumstances contribute to 2/3 of our overall happiness. The last 1/3, and arguably the most important factor, comes from Mindset. Yes "Happiness is an inside job". Though genetics does play a significant role in our level of happiness, we are unable to control the genetical combinations that have produced us. And for the most part, external circumstances such as money, job, material possessions can help in many circumstances but only matter to a certain point. Emotions run the show. Yogi Berra was onto something when he said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."

There is so much in our lives that we do not have control over. What we do have control over, Bubbs explains, is attitude, actions, effort, and thoughts. Essentially, this is where our attention, focus, and energies would be better served. This is where the power to change and be better lies. Bubbs further explains that attitude, actions, and effort are the easier factors to get control over. It is not relatively difficult to adapt a more positive attitude, perform actions that get you closer to your goal(s), and to make the effort to take action consistently. These 3 factors together are not powerful enough combined to get control of your thoughts. The greatest challenge and where most everyone struggles the most is with their thoughts.

It is no secret that the mind and body are connected and maintain a symbiotic relationship whereby good thoughts can make you feel physically better while bad thoughts can actually produce negative physiological changes in your body. Likewise, poor movement behaviors are correlated to depression, anxiety, and cognitive problems while regular physical exercise and movement have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the mind. You are what you think just as much as you are what you eat. Most recently, I have been made aware of the "Lucky Girl Syndrome" trend on TikTok. Essentially TikTok users are posting videos of themselves making positive affirmations that "surprisingly" come true. It is as if the positive affirmations are manifesting the thoughts into being. Call it self fulfilling prophecy or the basis behind Rhonda Byrne's 2006 best selling book "The Secret" detailing the law of attraction. If your thoughts are positive, you are more likely to attract or see the positive in things (The glass will appear half full). If your thoughts are more negative, you are more likely to notice and be aware of the negative (The glass will appear half empty).

"The Secret" is not really a secret. Positive thinking or avoiding negative self talk and thinking is the truth. The Little Engine That Could is one of the earliest positive thought messages that I recall hearing early on in my 1st decade of life. As the story goes The Little Engine had tried to get help carrying a very heavy load of toys and gifts for children on the other side of a mountain. When he was unable to get any help, he began to repeatedly say out load "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" as he chugged up that big hill. If the Little Engine had doubted himself he would have fallen victim to negative thoughts and negative self talk and would have failed to conquer that great big hill. The power that the engine possessed was the power of positive self talk and positive thoughts. I have come to appreciate the power of mindset and of positive thoughts because thinking positive is the better way. My only regret is that is took me far too long to realize the importance of that message. Today is as great a day as any to "think you can".

Henry Ford said it best, "Whether you think you can or you can't you're right". Here's to thinking that you can because I know you can!

Dr. Matt

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