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To your Health

Becoming a Thoughtful Generation

Neil Nedley


We live and serve in what modern pundits call “the thoughtless generation.” Objective, welldisciplined, complex thinking is nearly a relic of the past, and emotional intelligence is at an all-time low. This is a matter not only of mental and physical health, but also of spiritual health. We have the problem of trying to present the gospel to an audience that often has trouble comprehending it, even in its clearest simplicity. Sometimes we struggle to comprehend it ourselves. Negative thought patterns interfere with mental and emotional health, and poor mental and emotional health in turn lead to poor spiritual health.

As a physician, my desire to help patients fully recover from their illnesses initially led me to address the clinical depression that many also suffered. Out of my extensive research on depression arose a fascinating byproduct. Follow-up studies on patients who completed our Depression Recovery Program showed not only a reduction in depression levels but also a dramatic increase in emotional intelligence and overall well being—above and beyond that enjoyed by those who have never even experienced depression.

Participants in the program experienced marked improvement in their relationships, grades, work performance, productivity, positive influence on others, and many other factors deemed measures of life success. This led to a new program designed to help physically and mentally healthy people enjoy the same dramatic improvements. I presented some principles from this new program at the recent ASI convention in Orlando, Florida.

Research conclusively reveals that emotional health is dependent on a well functioning frontal lobe. Without it, humans lack empathy and self-restraint. We’re unable to set goals and plan well for the future. Our ability to analyze and identify distortions in our own thoughts is compromised.

The frontal lobe is the seat of judgment, reasoning, spirituality, morality and the will. Secular neurology textbooks recognize that the frontal lobe is structurally and functionally the control center of the entire being. As Christians, so should we. And that recognition should shape how we approach everything.

The connection between our mental, emotional and spiritual health is unmistakable. Since the frontal lobe is what makes us spiritual beings, it stands to reason that attending to spirituality enhances frontal lobe function. In fact, research does reveal that people with increased religiosity have better emotional health. I like to point out that, as Christians, we have at our fingertips the very best casebook and source of mental health principles ever published—the Bible. It is filled with information about right thinking. It includes numerous case studies with examples of individuals who exhibited both healthy and unhealthy ways of thinking. It is a rich source of healing principles.

That is, if we take it seriously. When we’re told to deliberately think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report, do we regard those words as friendly advice to be taken or left, depending on the circumstances, or do we embrace them as a matter of spiritual life or death? Because that’s what they are—quite literally—a matter of life or death. Your daily choice to live your life well, including your mental and emotional life, may be your personal lifeline and your very best witness to others concerning the power of God’s Word.