Half Full

Half Full

Imagine a glass of matcha. It’s filled halfway. Seeing it either as half full or half empty is a pretty tired trope, and I apologize for that. But stick with it for a second.

If your brain sees the glass as half-full — a metaphor for beliefs that are hopeful and optimistic — the brain releases neurotransmitters/chemicals that put the body of a state of physiological rest. In this state, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, and the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms start to get busy attempting to “fix” what’s broken in the body. Our remarkable ability to self-repair is one of many useful byproducts of evolution. But we have to be “at peace” for these mechanisms to begin working.

If, however, we see the glass in negative light, as half-empty, colored by the stories we tell ourselves that are based around fear and threats to survival, the brain perceives these ideations as threats. There’s a lion nearby.

When a lion’s nearby, the body isn’t concerned with long-term things like self-repair, cellular rejuvenation, and aging gracefully. It’s too busy prepping us to flee from the imminent danger. There’s little point in directing immune cells to deal with random cancer cells if you’re about to be dinner; the energy is better spent keeping you alive.

With time, though, negative beliefs repeatedly trigger the stress response, the release of cortisol and adrenaline, two key hormones that have kept us alive throughout the millennia, to either flee or fight the imminent danger. Repeated flooding of these two hormones throughout our nervous systems takes a toll. The cellular environment quite literally gets poisoned with stress hormones, and these self-repair mechanisms don’t work.

So please: do yourself a biological favor and see the glass as half-full. The entirety of your biology will thank you for it. It’s a conscious choice, and I know you can do it. Your health, and happiness, might even depend on it.

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