Digesting my thoughts – happy thoughts – happy colon – day 2

I just had one of those moments – I was musing about what I might write about the mind’s inclination to seize on the negative rather than the positive…

I often do my best thinking on the loo – what could be more appropriate for someone in my profession 🙂  And so,  I took my pondering about this day’s blog post with me,  as I sat for my morning poo – or orthocolic reflex to be more technical 🙂

Still searching for inspiration I stood up to flush – looked back at the toilet bowl – always good practice to monitor one’s movements 🙂

and, “OMG! I have blood in my stool!”… then half a second elapsed as I thought, “Or did I have beetroot?” And then a good 30 seconds elapsed as I searched my brain for what I had eaten yesterday before I remembered eating beetroot – some bits of me work better than others!

So, a perfect illustration – of the mind rushing to the negative – rather than being smug about having a healthy tea 🙂

But there is a reason for this. Our bodies and minds are programmed for survival. Our bodies are in a constant state of flow – assimilating nutrients, eliminating waste, balancing hormones and electrolytes.

And while our bodies work hard to keep us physically healthy, our minds  keep us safe by spotting any threats to our safety.

The crux of spotting threats – is to see them quickly,  and to mobilise to fight or run – “fight or flight”.

In order to do this the mind is primed to take more notice of something potentially sinister than a happy thought. It is also programmed to generalise – no time to be specific if we are in danger – and so the mind lumps together everything and  anything that could be remotely worrying – to make sure WE NEVER MISS anything that could harm us.

Which sounds great – BUT – actually means that if someone “looks at us funny” in the supermarket; or we have a thought about our bank balance;  or our imagination gets over involved in a dark drama on the telly – then our nervous system picks up this thought and triggers a physiological stress reaction.

Our bodies are flooded with cortisol and adrenaline – and our digestive system gets sidelined – starved of blood and nutrients – normal service suspended – until we have worked out that we are not in imminent danger.


Dr Michael Mosely – presenter on Horizon and other BBC programmes – once participated in an experiment: everyday for a month he spent half an hour looking at pictures of faces – his task was to spot the happy smiling faces amongst hundred of photos of faces showing a mixture of expressions.

The results of this experiment – undertaken with thousands of volunteers – showed that through doing this,  one could slightly shift our tendency to focus on the negative things – away from the negative towards the positive –   volunteers fedback an improvement in mood and general well being.


So, a good step towards a happy colon is to become more aware of our thoughts.  When observed with tenderness and humour – we can spot – with compassion – just how skewed our thinking often is – and how easily it gets hijacked by a negative thought.

With this new awareness we can “head off” doom and gloom and encourage our thinking to focus on the good stuff in our lives – our colons will be so grateful 🙂

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Emily MumfordView all posts by Emily Mumford