To be honest, without some context, rewriting your genetic code sounds expensive, scary, and like the premise of a Netflix series, I’d binge watch.
But it’s actually really simple to do.
First, you need to know about a field of study called Epigenetics.
- Epigenetics means “on top of genetics,” and it’s the study of how individual genes can be activated or deactivated by life experiences.
- It shows how you get to write your own biological story.
- Epigenetics supports the idea that our choices, lifestyle, and how we view the world and our meaning of life play a much more significant factor in our health than the genes we’ve been given.
- While genes can predispose certain people to disease, gene expression (what genes are turned on/off) is controlled by external factors outside of the genes.
Researchers Steven Cole from UCLA and Barbara Frederickson from the University of Illinois have demonstrated that persons who exhibit high levels of eudemonic well-being – the kind of happiness that comes from having a broad sense of purpose and meaning in life – is also associated with favorable gene expression that promotes health and longevity.
So in line with their finding, by discovering a broad sense of purpose and meaning in my life, I’m rewriting my genetic code by activating favorable gene expression.
I got on this path thanks to a patient named Ishmael. He’d been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. This man knew he was going to die soon. One day, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Things looked great from the outside, but they were falling apart behind the scenes.
You can relate, right?
And Ishmael, he stopped me and looked me in the eye. He asked, “Hey Doc! How are you?” The level of peace radiating from him had to be on the same level of Buddhists monks, and it hit me in the gut. Here I was, a relatively healthy and successful doctor, feeling down because of personal problems. But this man was staring death in the face yet he floated around in a cloud of love, peace, and joy.
I couldn’t help myself. I asked him how he could be in such a great mood and he replied, “I don’t live for myself. I have a choice each day how I respond. I have a choice to feel love and share the love.” It was true. Even as a stranger, I felt his love so strongly it opened up something inside me.
That was my turning point, and it led me to cultivate a practice of optimism and gratitude. To focus on the positives. To rediscover how to play and connect.
This quest also led me to start the Live Again Project, a fiscally sponsored non-profit aimed to connect and transform the world through cancer stories & to help fulfill the purpose of those with terminal cancer. Thanks to Ishmael, I discovered a broad sense of purpose and meaning in my life, and it’s helped me become the person I wanted to be while rewriting my genetic code thought my intentions and actions.
So here’s what you can do to start rewriting your genetic code today.
Take 5 minutes and find something to enjoy. Just take 5 minutes to deliberately enjoy something without reserve. Maybe get down on the floor and play with a child. Or visit a pet shelter and adopt a kitten. Look up funny videos on YouTube until you’re crying from laughing. Or listen to a song that used to transport you to a happy place.
You’re more in control of your health and happiness than you realize.
Step up and accept your power.
You are health.
Kien Vuu MD, clinical professor of medicine at the UCLA – David Geffen School of Medicine, is a multi-faceted physician carving a distinctive path integrating traditional western, eastern and alternative forms of medicine. His passion for using the power of the mind as a healing tool has fueled his avocations as a professor, motivational speaker, author, entertainer, and philanthropist.
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