Mindfulness Can Make You Healthier and Live Longer

2 Jan

Happy New Year — is it resolution time for you? Alex Williams asked the question in today’s New York Times. Research shows that many people who try to make major lifestyle changes, like losing weight, don’t succeed. Why? They are “hard-wired not to change quickly,” said Dr. Marion Kramer Jacobs. On the other hand, Alan Deutschman, the author of “Change or Die,” says some strategies are more likely than others to bring positive results. Here are Deutschman’s four steps to success:

  1. Start with big changes, not small ones.
  2. Act like the person you are trying to become.
  3. “Reframe” the situation.
  4. Don’t do it alone.

  
Dr. Dean Ornish of UCSF  is more optimistic. He believes that by changing your lifestyle you can change your gene expression. In fact, his studies have shown that people who are motivated to make and maintain bigger, healthier changes in lifestyle also achieve better clinical outcomes and even larger cost savings for the healthcare system.

In his recent interview with Edge-The Third Culture, Ornish says  that if stress reduces telomerase (an enzyme that repairs and lengthens damaged telomeres, which are the ends of our chromosomes that control how long we live) and makes telomeres shorter, then stress management techniques, exercise and good nutrition should be able to increase these. 

Ornish later says that “the more inwardly-defined you are, the more you can quiet down your mind and body and experience more of an inner sense of peace and well being, the more empowered you are… people only have power over you if they have something that you think you need. The more inwardly-defined you are, the less you need, so the more powerful you become”. And healthier too!

For more, check out this video from last year’s TED Conference:

One Response to “Mindfulness Can Make You Healthier and Live Longer”

  1. Marion Kramer Jacobs, Ph.D. January 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    I’d like to clarify what I was talking about to Alex Williams who wrote the New York Times article you cite. Because humans are hard wired to change as a step-wise process, rather than very quickly, many people get impatient both with the time it takes to successfully change and the amount of effort it takes. Having the right expectations about how change works helps deal with discouragement. I talk about that, along with all the other steps needed for successful change in my book and on my CD, Take-Charge Living: How to Recast Your Role in Life… One Scene at a Time. You can read more or hear clips at http://www.take-chargeliving.com.
    Thanks for your interest in this most important topic.
    Marion Kramer Jacobs, Ph.D.

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