I am excited by the recent discovery brain cells continue to regenerate as long as we live. Researchers, for instance, determined that by intentionally and consistently practicing gratitude we actually reprogram our brain cells to become less prone to depression and negativity. This new information already gives us new tools and practices that may eliminate the need for some medications, and certainly validate the 12 step program and others that help us become more self directed, response-able, and positive..

Our minds and bodies are an integral unit. What affects our mind, affects our body and vice versa. In fact, science discovered that the Biblical statement, “the sins of the fathers are passed on to the third and fourth generation” is literally true! They’ve discovered that trauma, fears, along with both positive experiences of former generations are literally passed on from parent to child via minute alterations to DNA, thus influencing how the unborn child will process and respond to life! Perhaps this is why some feel as if they have lived another life before! What we do and how we act, not only affects those around us but our unborn children!

This is one more reason why we need to get away from our tendency to judge, blame, and shame ourselves and others; why it is important we become more aware of how factors affect us for good or ill. Just as some of us are born into financially secure families, so some are born into families that have experienced horrendous traumas…such as slavery, ethnic cleansing, the holocaust, earthquakes, fires, storms, famines, war. Black rage becomes completely understandable when one sees how the suppressed fear and anger of those who lived with lynchings, beatings, deprivation, being bought and sold, can still affect their great grandchildren’s fight and flight responses. Or how the unresolved conflict and bitterness between a grandmother and her daughter helps create a predilection for breast cancer in future generations. Or how past diets contribute to metabolic imbalances or diabetes.

We cannot choose our parents. We cannot choose our genetic codes. There is much we cannot choose or change about the ways we look, feel, act, think, respond, etc. But that does not leave us helpless. We can still positively affect our present and future by changing our attitudes and lifestyles. If trauma can affect our DNA, so can gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc. We can choose healthier lifestyles, love based spiritual paths, affirming, creative jobs, churches or programs such as the 12 step program designed to foster good mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. We can have positive or negative impact on our mental and physical health with the food we consume, whether or not we smoke, drink, drug, binge eat, participate in or resist violence, harbor resentments, seek revenge, or accept responsibility for our choices and actions, are respectful, caring, volunteer pray, meditate.

Even though there are no guarantees that we will live happily ever after, that we will not get sick and suffer from horrendous diseases, we can be assured that we will encounter many wonderful people, opportunities, beauty, sunsets and roses along the way. How we choose to respond to life, whether we live a life of gratitude and caring, acceptance and tolerance, joy and affirmation may just determine what ours and our children’s outcome may be, as well as ensure God’s promise that love is stronger than hate be actualized through our DNA!

Joyce Shutt is the author of Steps to Hope and is a veteran 12 stepper.

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