Watch what you wish for

By Danette Vernon

I can’t claim to know the whole story, as I only know the boy in the story, but once upon a time there was a girl who had a bit of a witch for a mother and a father who was weak. The story goes that the boy thought to save her, but in the end she became more than a witch herself — a woman who didn’t cook or clean or have much interest in keeping home fires burning. But she did have the cable TV schedule memorized. Doing nothing seemed to be the skill that she honed with all precision, and in truth it seemed to be her one desire.

Twenty years later, the boy is gone, the house is in disarray. She keeps fudge in her pillowcase, and is three times the woman she used to be. But what of her wish to do nothing? She’s ill, and is gradually losing more and more mobility, something that she never wished for, but the irony is there.

Life is full of such anecdotal stories, ones that we all like to tell to scare ourselves into better behavior. The story begs the question: To what degree do your thoughts really influence your body, your health or your life’s trajectory?

I come from a time, nearly half a century hence, when coal still powered the giant furnaces that devoured most of the space of many a basement, rural rental properties didn’t have indoor plumbing, and playing outside was what children did all day. In those days, any connection made between the mind and the body, between your inner life and what happened in your outer life, was considered by the scientific community to be the realm of folklore, shamans, medicine men and the crystal-gazing youth of the original hippie era.

Today, however, the idea that power of the mind and the wishes of the heart affect your body, or your health, or your life’s course, for better or worse, has become mainstream and has gained recognition from the scientific community. From the explorations of Bruce Lipton into how our belief systems affect our biology to Dr. Amen’s clinical studies on what brain scans may tell us about ourselves to Harvard’s examination of happiness, and how to generate more of it, research now shows that when it comes to the story we tell ourselves about what we want and deserve in life, perception is everything.

So as you begin a new year and new aspirations — or last year’s ambitions re-dressed — be mindful of not only any actual list of goals that you might aspire to, but also of the underground wishes you leave open for fulfillment in your subconscious. If you tell yourself that that there are no good men left, that only people with a master’s degree are getting jobs nowadays, that you’ll never be thin as you finish that last piece of pie, well, “watch what you wish for.”

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