In 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow predicted that when the basic requirements of life – eating, drinking and sleeping – became secure, people’s focus would shift to the luxury of ‘worry’.
And while worry has always been part of the human condition, Psychology Today has noted that anxiety is ‘one of our modern plagues’.
What are we so anxious about?
Well, lots of things. But it seems for so many people it’s their health. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, those who live in relatively affluent countries can expect to live 80 years or more, with most years spent in good health. So why are North Americans in particular so anxious about health?
The global network – the internet and our smartphones – has us connected 24/7 to the opinions and worries of millions of people – from Ebola to obesity – and we are fed a constant diet of changing fads and fears.
In a study by Social Science Research, it seems the more diseases research discovers or uncovers, the greater the risk of being diagnosed with a ‘new’ disease. This can lead to aggressive screening and can potentially cause harm to perfectly healthy people.
This same study finds that confidence in medicine has declined over the past three decades – even while the medical industry and its research continue to grow exponentially.
It appears our efforts at the biomedical level have left out a key ingredient to good health – our mental well being.
The concept of mind over matter certainly isn’t new. And, for some people a “positive thinking” approach can help them manage anxiousness about their health. But it takes more than that to live with a deep-seated trust that we can expect good health. We each have a ‘kingdom within’ that can define and influence our health in a way that we will expect – and experience – more confidence and less anxiety about excessive news of health scares.
After 45 years as a semi-invalid, Mary Baker Eddy, a modern pioneer in the practice of spiritual healing, recovered her health and had great success healing others by studying Jesus’ method of healing through divine power. Moving beyond the concept of the human mind over matter as a healing agent, she defined God as divine Mind, and wrote, ‘Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health.’
Understanding that health isn’t ultimately a physical condition as it appears to be, but a quality of God that is innate to our being, raises our health expectations to a whole new level.
The door to spirituality in the medical field opens wider each year. In the past two decades more than 75 per cent of U.S. medical schools have integrated spirituality topics into training. And, researchers in the emerging field of spirituality in medicine recognize that connecting to the needs of the whole person – physically, mentally and spiritually – can aid in recovery and healing.
Anxiety over health can lessen rather than grow as we change how we think about it. Reflecting more on our spiritual nature, and living in a way that expresses it, brings an expectation of good health that’s the natural right of everyone.
You can also read this article in several Metroland Community news editions, such as the Brampton Guardian.