A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away."
Some years ago when I was working in the summer as a CTA passenger bus driver in Chicago to help pay my way through college, an elderly lady, as she was about to alight from my bus, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Young man, you're a millionaire." That was news to me, but then after a pause, she added, "You've got your health."
How right she was. Good health is worth much more than a million dollars and is something many of us can have more of if we really want to. Not everybody, however, really wants to be well. As Dr. Parker points out, some people fashion "imaginary illnesses or disorders in an unconscious attempt to get attention or to escape responsibility."
Another wise man with lab coats said, "Peace doesn't come in capsules." In other words, while we are extremely grateful for modern medical science with all its help and alleviation of human suffering, the greatest source of health and healing still doesn't come out of test tubes or the pill bottle.
According to Dr. S. I. McMillen, author of the book, None of These Diseases, one of the major causes of sickness in our society is emotional stress. Dr. McMillen stated, "Medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 percent to nearly 100 percent."
"Fatal heart attacks can be triggered by 'anger in all degrees, depression, and anxiety,' according to Dr. Roy R. Grinker, [formerly] one of the medical directors of Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. This man in solid scrub tops states that anxiety places more stress on the heart than any other stimulus, including physical exercise and fatigue."
Stress in small amounts is often necessary and helpful, but continued stress is damaging. If, for example, you were being chased by a tiger, your God-given emotion of fear would trigger your adrenal glands releasing sudden energy into your blood stream to help you escape. Your hurried escape would also burn up any excess adrenalin. If, however, the "tiger of stress" keeps on chasing you and you can't get away, the chemical balance of your body is upset and trouble results. Too much adrenalin for too long can cause "high blood pressure, arthritis, kidney disease, and hardening of the arteries."
"Other glands are also affected. Simple nervousness in speaking before a public audience is sufficient to cause the salivary glands not to function properly and one's mouth can become very dry.
"Emotional stress can influence the amount of blood that flows to an organ. Embarrassment can cause the blood vessels of the face and neck to open up to produce blushing, and the emotions of anxiety or hate can so increase the amount of blood within the rigid skull that headaches and vomiting result."
I have read, too, that emotional stress can also cause ulcers, rheumatic fever, coronary thrombosis, frigidity and impotence, alcoholism, epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, constipation, diarrhea, hives, hay fever, asthma, back trouble, rheumatic arthritis, polio, many infections, glaucoma, skin diseases, hemorrhoids and many other sicknesses. It also affects the tension of muscles, which can cause severe headaches and muscular pain.