The mind is a powerful entity. We often focus so completely on physical health because it can be seen and experienced in issues that display themselves in obvious ways. A strong mind, mental health, and clarity are of equal value and importance. The power of mindfulness and properly aligning and mastering your thoughts will greatly impact your life in a myriad of ways.
It was found that those who are cognizant of the power of the present moment and work actively to exist fully in it, have less of an issue taking, or being confronted with, health advice. This also leads to them being more apt to make necessary behavioral changes that would positively improve their situations.
What a recent study uncovered was that while many people understand and fully realize what they need to do in order to feel better and to be healthier, they can sometimes react poorly to advice they cognitively understand to be true. If you tell someone why they should eat better or stop smoking or be more active, that can easily elicit contempt and feel as if you are badgering or nagging them. Not the way that any well-meaning person wants to be perceived.
It's interesting that people can hear these messages in a very different way. A study conducted at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found that those who practice mindfulness are more prone to accepting these types of suggestions. Those who are mindful are more apt to want to change and improve themselves to the best of their abilities.
Mindfulness is typically defined as the ability to think and stay in the present moment. This helps in a plethora of reasons as it stops negative thinking, curbs depression and anxiety, and allows each moment to be fully lived in and experienced to the depths in which it appears. Senior author Emily Falk, Ph. D. explains that, health messaging often causes people to react emotionally in negative ways, so we investigated factors, including mindfulness, that could potentially influence people to be more receptive to health messages and more motivated to change their behavior.
The study took a group of people who only got a minimal amount of exercise per week and exposed them to specific health-minded messaging. The researchers then took notes on the perceived motivation to change and improve behavior as well as if said behavior did change in subsequent weeks. The mindfulness factor was gauged by certain tests and questionnaires. Those who scored the highest in mindfulness were the ones that seemed more motivated to change their behavior and more apt to actually do so.
Promoting Positive Behavior
One of the key takeaways from this study was that some people actually feel really badly about the poor health habits that they possess. When these habits are brought to their attention, it only makes them feel worse, regardless of how well meaning it may be. This means they are less likely to change said behavior when they feel so negatively about it to begin with.
Individuals may benefit from cultivating mindful attention when processing potentially threatening yet beneficial health information, added lead author Yoona Kang, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg School. It's possible that incorporating mindfulness cultivation into existing intervention strategies can promote more widespread positive health behavior.