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Excerpted from Teach Only Love by Gerald Jampolsky. Copyright 2000 by Gerald Jampolsky. Excerpted by permission of Beyond Words Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Simply take careful notice of what it is that makes you happy to think and what makes you unhappy, and your mind will make the necessary adjustments itself."

  Jerry Jampolsky, Teach Only Love, Part 4

An Attitude Can Heal

While completing my internship in Boston, I became fully aware of the influence that attitudes have on the body. This recognition was brought forcefully to mind by two patients under my care who had stomach cancer. Medical consultants from Boston, Harvard, and Tufts universities agreed that both men, about the same age, had similar degenerative conditions and that neither could be expected to live more than six months. One of the men died two weeks later. The other continued to live, was dismissed from the hospital, and was doing well at the time I completed my internship.

The first man appeared to have no reason to live. He believed that even if he recovered there would be no way to resolve his day-to-day problems. He seemed more afraid of living than of dying. Death may have been an escape for him. The man who did not die had a determination to live; in effect, he refused to become a statistic on an insurance probability curve. Somehow, some way, he was convinced he would get well and would be able to complete the plans for his life.

This incident made me realize the importance of the thoughts we think. The direction they take actually constitutes our will to live or die. It is important to understand, however, that whenever I speak of a change in thought, I am not calling you to battle. The means whereby we redirect the mind are identical to the nature of the new direction itself. Peacefully we return to peace. Gently we lean into gentleness.

If ever you find yourself unwilling to think the kind of thoughts that you believe this book calls for, please do not frighten yourself. It is a letting go of tension that is being recommended. If you will simply think what it pleases you to think, what rests and comforts you, you will be doing all I suggest. There is no rationale in trying to force a change in your state of mind. Simply take careful notice of what it is that makes you happy to think and what makes you unhappy, and your mind will make the necessary adjustments itself.

It is clear to most physicians that attitude can affect organic illness. They know that the will to live or die can change the course of an illness. They know this even though such an attitude cannot be put under a microscope, measured, weighed, or replicated. The truths of the mind defy the usual standards of science. The conditions and general atmosphere produced by our attitudes can be seen reflected not only in the extreme case of a life-threatening illness but in all aspects of our lives. This became clear to me after my first attempt to pass my boards in psychiatry and neurology.

Taking the boards requires two days of oral testing. Although I had studied hard, I made the mistake of deciding I would be the calmest, coolest person ever to take the exams. My central focus was on wearing this mask, and everyone, especially my professional associates, marveled at my composure. A month later, I learned I had failed. All my energy had gone into pretending to be in control, and this left little attention that could be directed to answering the questions properly. The following year, without this distracting pretense, I took the exams and passed.

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