A now famous study was performed in the 1950s at Johns Hopkins University. Although some may find it cruel, it provided a powerful demonstration of hope and resilience in overcoming difficult situations, and persevering towards success as long as the environment allowed success to occur.
This experiment started by using domesticated rats. The rats were placed in a bucket of water and left there, to see how long they would last before drowning. Most of the rats swam around for a few hours, before drowning. Then wild rats were placed in the bucket. Most of these rats drowned within a few minutes. Why was that so? The thought was, since the domesticated rats were use to being helped with basic necessities (food, water, a place to live, etc.) that they developed a hope that they would be helped again when drowning. The wild rats, who perhaps did not have that previous behavior, may have determined that there was no hope for survival and succumbed to their demise.
So more wild rats were placed into the bucket. Just as they were beginning to drown, they were plucked safe from the water, held for a few minutes, then placed into another bucket of water. The rats started swimming, waiting to be rescued, and kept their heads above water for up to 60 hours!! They must have learned that since there was hope that they would be saved, it was worth it to keep waiting through the struggle, until they couldn’t anymore and the exhaustion overtook the hope these rats had.
The hope these rats displayed provided an 1,800% increase in the time they were willing to wait. This level of resiliency is amazing! Time may be the variable used here, but this concept can apply to anything in our lives. Our minds are wired to be resilient, which is driven by hope of a change, a solution, breakthrough, success, etc. This brings into focus the power of positive thinking. We all can relate to knowing someone in our lives who always seems to have everything go their way. Friends, health, money, success, fun, they always seem to have it all. And I bet if you were to ask them how things always seemed to work out so well, they would simply say, “I want these things to happen, and I believe that they will, and I take action to ensure that it does happen.” The belief that individual has fuels their hope which drives their actions which leads to the results they have.
I hope that each of you reading this can appreciate the power of hope, and the changes that can be made as long as there is hope of positive outcome or opportunity in your life. Our bodies are craving that hope, waiting for it to explode with healing. Let’s relate to this more on a level of health and healing to give better context. In the simplest form, you must believe one of two thoughts: my body can change to heal and be healthier, or my body is what it is and I must do the best with what I have been given.
As a chiropractor, I hope to explain to you how the first statement is the only true statement that can exist.
Dr. Bruce Lipton is an author and scientist who has done a lot of work to further the field of epigenetics. Epigenetics refers to the ability for our cells to change the expression of their genes despite changing the makeup of their DNA. In other words, how things like your thoughts, words, beliefs and environment can make your body react in certain ways. Dr. Lipton’s proved this is possible with cultured human cells. These cells were genetically identical, but were placed in three different environments. Culture A turned the cells into muscle. Culture B into bone, and culture C into fat cells. Since the cells were all the same to start with genetically, what controlled the fate of this cellular change?
Answer: The signals from the environment.
The environmental signals allowed the cell to change and continue to thrive. So, you may be thinking, how was the cell able to communicate with the new environment to know what changes it needed to make? Conventional wisdom says the nucleus, but Dr. Lipton removed the nucleus from each of the cells and performed the same experiment. The same thing happened. The cells changed to suit their environment, but did not last as long as their predecessors. This is a huge finding! The nucleus is only the reproductive house of the cell, not the brain that determines its function (as previously believed!) This also shows the power of your environment on your body. At the top of the hierarchy chain, the environment dictates theo pportunity our bodies have. It is the innate (proven, but not understood by science) intelligence of the cells to adapt to the environment that gives the cells the hope of success.
Another example: researchers at the University of Bergen and Harvard Medical School proved that human cells were able to differentiate into different cell types based on the input of signals the cell received. Specifically, in 2019 the researchers took glucagon-producing cells (glucagon has the opposite function of insulin) and made them switch to produce insulin. What caused the cells to change their function? Signals from the researchers (outside environment).
How does this relate to hope? Since the environment is more in control of how our bodies change and adapt than your DNA is, there is always hope that when we need a change, we can change the input we give ourselves so that we have a better environment to live and thrive in. This can include so many things. First and for most, a chiropractic adjustment to change the nerve impulses, a change in your diet/supplementation to clean your internal environment, a change in beliefs (which has profound cellular effects), being around people who invigorate and love you. The opportunities are endless, and as long as your breathing – there is always hope!