A happy mind conquers illness

Robert Labayen

Posted at Jun 19 2019 03:03 PM

Illustration by Robert Labayen

Changing the way we think will dramatically change the way we live. The happy mind can attract an abundance of wisdom, love, wealth and good health.

In 2014, I was going through a serious case of insomnia which was leading me to depression and claustrophobia. I was almost like a zombie at home and in the office. When alone, I cried and screamed inside. I went to a good sleep doctor, a therapist, an acupuncturist and a yoga teacher. They all helped. But the breakthrough happened inside a parish adoration chapel.

While praying in the chapel, I read a book that narrated the experience of St. Paul and Silas in jail. Instead of feeling miserable, the two spent the whole day and night singing praises to God. Then an earthquake came to crack open the walls of the jail!

Learning from this story, preacher Joel Osteen advised that when we are going through a difficult time, we just have to offer “a sacrifice of praise.” It means thanking and praising God in our mind the whole day. If we dwell on our problem, we may lose our appetite, have high-blood pressure or even a nervous breakdown! 
This suggestion to feel happy and grateful all day is very consistent with the tips from the best known authors on the subject of insomnia.

Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs, pioneering researcher on insomnia, wrote the book "Say Good Night to Insomnia." He revealed that the condition of our health worsens if we listen to “negative automatic thoughts” or NATs. Examples are thoughts like “This looks like a bad day,” “I am so unlucky,” “When will my life ever change,“ etc. Among insomnia sufferers, common negative thoughts are “Here comes another bad night," “I can’t sleep without my medicine," “This is so unfair!”

The cure, he prescribed, is cognitive restructuring or replacing your NATs with positive thoughts. We can overcome our problems if we say to ourselves things like, for example, “I am recovering fast," "Good sleep awaits tonight, “I’m getting better every day in every way,” “This is a day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice in it." (I sometimes told myself it was better to be unable to sleep than unable to wake up.)

I was cured almost instantly because insomnia is usually caused by anxiety while thinking positive thoughts and thanking God the whole day is so relaxing. Relaxation makes us sleep.

Probably the most famous book on the subject is "The Effortless Sleep Method" by Sasha Stephens. She had insomnia for 15 years but she advises sufferers to never call themselves an “insomniac.” Also prescribing positive self-talk, she counsels people to never even mention in a conversation that they have difficulty sleeping.

My office buddy, Johnny, knew the trick all along. He said “Never let it rule you. If you can’t sleep, just enjoy the night!" Exactly the same tip from Ms. Stephens.

One time, we held our Couples For Christ prayer meeting in the house of a member who was recovering from a stroke. I was told she was frowning and crying the whole day every day in the hospital because she was so bitter. We advised her to think happy thoughts and to offer “a sacrifice of praise." When we’re happy, our brain gives a rush work order to our body to heal itself. 

A few days later, our member was already in the mall. She was still on a wheelchair but she could already move her limbs and smile like a very happy shopper.

So, think happy thoughts now and catch the sale!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8

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About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.