Ah conventional wisdom!
So correct, so wise, so spot on! Conventional wisdom is always right!
Well…you already know my opinion, but I did want to put it to the test around the rather ethereal topic of emotion.
Are Our Emotions Hard Wired Into our DNA?
How many times have you heard the phrase, “he is just an emotional person”, or “she just has a bad temper”, or “he has a naturally calm temperament” Have you ever noticed that we humans tend to pigeonhole ourselves into “emotional boxes”? Its as if we have no choice but to be angry, sad, glad, miserable or happy. It’s as though we are genetically predisposed and destined to wear our own unique emotional pedigree.
Emotions are interesting characters that have sorts of expressions, intensity and variety. I am a firm believer that we are meant to experience a vast array of human emotions including the “good” and the “bad”, because they help us to experience the contrast and polarity of life. I also believe that there are times that we don’t have as much control over our emotions as other times.
But I have to ask the hard question….
Can We Impact Our Emotions With Our Lifestyle Choices?
Dr. Catherine Shanahan is the author of one of my favorite statements of all time. Admittedly I will have to paraphrase but it goes a little something like this, “everybody is talking about the ‘mind-body” but when did we lose track of the ‘body-mind’? If our biology is not working right then neither will our psychology.”
I could not agree more. Think of the western medicine approach to mental health. We prescribe pills as the first line of defense without any question, we prescribe counseling, therapy, and even more nuanced approached like meditation, hypnosis and EMDR, which focus on the mind FIRST.
But could Dr. Shanahan be right? What if we start to take care of our body first?
I want to share a few simple examples to possibly change your mind about this sensitive topic.
Let’s say for example that you are dehydrated. When you are dehydrated it impacts your physiology in untold ways. To start it has a huge impact on the neurons in your brain which produce the chemicals that are often implicated in your mental health such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
When you are dehydrated it literally alters the chemistry of your brain. Do you think this could have an impact on whether you not you make healthy or unhealthy decisions? Do you think it would have an impact on your mood, happiness, wellbeing and more?
To use another example lets say that you eat highly processed foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats, low in antioxidants and devoid of nutrition. When a food is high in polyunsaturated fats without the accompanying antioxidants (that will always be found in whole foods) they quickly oxidize in the blood stream creating what is known as free radical damage. This free radical damage can wreck havoc in your brain neurons and create inflammation not only in your brain but also systemically. Do you think this might be able to affect your mood, energy levels and ability to sleep soundly?
I could continue to go down this rabbit hole talking about lifestyle choices such as sleep, adequate exercise, food intolerances and so forth but I hope that you are seeing my point. You literally are what you eat and your lifestyle choices have an enormous impact on your mental and physical health.
The Bottom Line
I have made the case that our emotions are in part built by our lifestyle choices. Yes there are incontrollable factors such as genetics that play into the picture, but my point in writing this post is to show you that you have more control over what emotions your body produces simply by the lifestyle choices that you make.
If you choose to take care of your body through proper lifestyle choices it will have a profound impact on your happiness, mood and overall wellbeing. In that state of being you are much more likely to have the desire to take care of your body on a daily basis.
The human body is a uniquely orchestrated balance of ENERGY and emotions are simply nothing more than “energy in motion”. YOU are in charge of how that energy comes together through your own lifestyle choices. I challenge you to make one healthy choice at a time so that you can give your body the energy it needs to make “happy emotions”, which will then perpetuate the desire to continually make healthy choices.
Please COMMENT here because I am dying to hear your thoughts!
Life is Good!