You’ve probably heard the expression “We teach what we need to learn.” Recently I’ve had a life-reminder of that.

Life is meant to be happy, healthy, and abundant. That’s the way God the Universal Consciousness set it up, and we are given everything we need to create our lives that way if we choose to. There are challenges though, and obstacles for us to face and overcome, because our souls didn’t come here just for a vacation; we all came to learn and grow through experiences. Different souls choose different experiences. I know this, even though there are many whose soul-choices are hard for me to understand. So I can't speak of that, but instead I'll pass on to you only what I have experienced myself and learned from.

Given the premise and truth that life is intended to be happy and healthy, we have to wonder why we get sick sometimes, and why we sometimes get injured. The bottom line is this: All of it has a purpose and all of it fits together, but the pattern of its perfection is too vast for us to see except in small segments and glimpses.

Like so many other people, lately I found myself busier than I wanted to be. With work, school, final exams, a small home-based business, I found myself rushed, stressed, and continuously at the edge of overwhelm. I got through it just fine, and when it was all completed, I felt a sense of relief and peace at last. The very next day I came down with a terrible, miserable cold.

I am recovering now of course, getting better, but still a bit miserable physically. I look and sound awful. Probably you have experienced the same scenario - just when things are finally getting under control and you can let up on yourself, give yourself a break - something happens. It might be the flu or an injury or accident. If your stress was worse than this, you might find yourself “knocked down” in mid-stride, right in the middle of all that activity. That is common too. And for those of us whose life-stress and unhappiness with life are very great, and if we do not pay attention to the messages our body is giving us, the consequences may sometimes be a catastrophic, life-changing illness or accident. Why does this happen?

I am someone who, like a little kid, always wants to know the “Why” of things. I find that Spirit does not answer Why-questions directly, and I believe that’s because "the why of it" is there for us to seek and find. It is part of the learning process of our earthly journey. Although we are, each one of us, a distinct being, we are compsed of a complex interacting "team" of systems, actions and possibilities. Our physical body is one of the players on that team.

Each of us is a complete Being that is much more than the sum of its parts, and cannot really be divided into parts at all, yet we have the awareness of a body, a mind, and a spirit, as if they were separate. We have come to see ourselves this way because it helps us to grasp and to understand some of the many things we’re learning about this life.

At this point in time I'm blesed with good health, and I'm very grateful for this. All I have is a common cold that limits my activities and makes me slow down and pay the dues. But as I look back across my life and the lives of so many people I’ve known or cared for in my work, I see a common pattern emerging again and again, in different forms and different degrees of seriousness.

The body often serves as a barometer of our happiness and our soul's work. When we have too much stress, or not enough joy, the body responds. First by slowing us down a little with a minor injury or illness, then if we still persist in doing things that make us unhappy, it “raises the bar” and a more devastating injury or illness occurs. When we have strayed too far from our soul's intention, there may be a totally life-changing illness or injury that forces us back to our life’s deepest center once again.

This is not God's doing, and it's not life punishing us for making a mistake. I believe this is our own Self and soul trying to help us by using the medium of our physical body when other means of getting our attention have failed.

I knew I was doing too much, and it was making me feel pressured, grouchy, stressed, oppressed and unhappy. But all those things needed to be done, they were worthy to be done, and I knowingly chose to do them, and thus chose the “overwhelm” state that went along with those choices. I have lived long enough to know that my choices always have consequences, and I have learned that happier healthier choices have happier healthier consequences. And yet - I thought I could “get away with it” this time.

We all think this. Even the wisest people I know sometimes put themselves in situations that are challenging in ways that are less than happy and less than healthy. When we do that, our physical manifestation usually calls us back, reins us in, and makes us take the rest and quiet reflection time we needed.

All emotions - positive or negative - have a direct effect on the physical body. We now know this by scientific studies. The immune system is particularly affected by negatively stressful emotions and situations. Mental challenges and physical exercise are good, healthy, and growth-producing. But too much mental and/or physical stress wear down our body’s protective system. Experimental studies have shown that stress weakens the immune system, and things like meditation, exercise, humor, and peacefulness can be used effectively to actually strengthen the immune system. Other studies have shown that laughter speeds and improves healing.

So if you want to be as healthy as possible, Lighten up. take steps to arrange your life-scenarios each day to be happy ones as often as possible. Control that powerful temptation to feel resentments against those annoying coworkers of yours. It doesn’t hurt them; but it does hurt you. Give up the frustrating desire to control other people and circumstances in your life. When you do this, you open up more freedom within your Self. If you have suffered a loss, resist the natural desire to mourn for too long, even if the loss was great. Give your life as much room for joy as you can.

Step back every now and then, and take an objective, practical look at the life situations you are presently in. They can be changed, but only by you, and they don’t require other people to change. When you change your mind, you change your life. The process is set in motion at once, and begins its unfoldment over the time ahead. But the most important action to take is internal - making your conscious decision and commitment.

Whatever else you do in serving others or meeting the responsibilities and situations in your life - make space for yourself and for what you want and need, and make an equal commitment to that also.

(By now you should be thinking “Easy for you to say, especially when you’re not doing so great yourself on this one.”) That’s okay. We all fall short of what we know we could be, and that’s the time to simply re-gather ourselves, body mind and spirit, to the one Self we always were, and then begin again.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets