Evidence is mounting that the prevention and treatment of chronic disease states is not only enhanced by the elimination of stress, but empowered by the experience of happiness. A good brief summary is in the Harvard Public Health Review. There is an evolving body of serious medical and psychological literature that points towards the health significance of a proactive intention to create happiness. Happiness bolsters the immune system, promotes well-being and longevity, and fosters healing.
The Harvard article points out that the toll of toxic stress goes far beyond poorer health for individuals. Population-wide, the cost of chronic diseases related to these conditions is enormous. “Imagine if we could enact a policy that would reduce heart disease by just 1 percent,” suggests Harvard’s Jack Shonkoff. “How many billions of dollars and how many lives would that save? Now what if we could also reduce diabetes—which is growing in epidemic proportions—and even stroke?” The point, Shonkoff says, is that society pays a considerable cost for treating chronic diseases in adulthood. Reducing toxic stress early in life may actually get out in front of these diseases to prevent them. I would add that reducing toxic stress at any time of life is a benefit. Science indicates the effects are immediate.
As research increasingly shows that the prevention of chronic disease is a critical factor in reducing the health care burden of nations, policy makers are looking to craft health systems that generate and reward preventive strategies. Dramatically changing the stress profile of individuals and communities is one important aspect of this change. At the same time, eliminating toxic stress altogether is a promising approach emerging within the field of Prevention. The ideal is at last intersecting with the possible.
At the strictly human level, all of this is critically and urgently important because people are sick and tired of psychological suffering. People are exhausted from immersion in stressful, anxious, angry, upset, circular thinking that entraps them in an endless loop of unhappiness. People are desperate for relief from the pressure of chronic stress — for clarity, for peace of mind, for certainty that they can manage their own lives.
For the last half century, we have looked “outside” for answers. How do we improve people’s lot in life? How can we provide access to more positive influences? How can we “fix” the circumstances that we have automatically blamed for human psychological suffering? Quiet voices from across the ages have consistently called to us to look the other way, to look inside for what we seek. And now, there is a logic, a simple, direct explanation of human psychological functioning that sets people free and reconnects them to their own true resiliency, that is sweeping across the globe.
You can watch the first in a series of discussions about it that will unfold on Manatee Educational Television month by month here. You can watch remarkable stories of transformation and change across the whole spectrum of human endeavors that have emerged from it here. You can learn more about it in a free program offered November 4 at USFSM, Less Stress, More Joy.
You will discover you are not learning techniques or methods or outside-in fixes, but realizing something you know already, deep-down. As Sydney Banks, who discovered and articulated the logic of the Principles that explain our experience, expresses it:
“The wisdom humanity seeks lies within the consciousness of all human beings, trapped and held prisoner by their own personal minds. Wisdom is not found in the world of form, nor in remote corners of the globe. Wisdom lies within our own consciousness. Only you have the golden key to your soul and the wisdom that lies within.” (The Missing Link, p. 129)