Monday, May 4, 2020

The Condition of Less Life and Its Impact on Our World

In the chiropractic profession, the term subluxation was designed to describe a condition in which minute but damaging deviations from the normal positions of the vertebrae protecting the spinal cord cause disruption of the communication along the super highway that is your brain-to-body electrical network; electricity flows through nerves like water flows along a river, so think of the subluxation as the electrical equivalent of a dam.  At its roots, subluxation means a condition of less light, and was originally interpreted as a condition of less life.  Upper Cervical Chiropractors focus on the more delicate and smaller uppermost neck vertebrae, which protect the brain-to-body network’s cell tower equivalent, the brainstem. 

With respect to the desire to better define subluxation within chiropractic and to keep the term confined to the spine (or to the brainstem), the root translation of the term as a condition of less life could be applied in many ways, not the least of which as a tool to better educate a society mightily struggling to figure out wellness while heavily influenced by a healthcare system aimed predominantly at sickness. 

The human body is a well-oiled machine, the most intricately and intelligently designed assembly line in the history of mankind, replenishing damaged cells with incredible efficiency (i.e. cuts healing in two weeks, broken bones mending in six weeks, nerves returning to relative normalcy in four months post-injury), creating new cells via the food we eat within minutes, and constantly seeking to maintain for us a body-wide even keel.  A discussion of subluxation, then, is an exercise in identifying the various agents of slowing down your internal assembly line.  You can no more expect optimal health when your internal assembly line is functioning abnormally than you can elite production of a car when an automobile assembly line is in some way failing.

Nutritional deficiency, then, is a form of subluxation, is it not?  Given that food is eaten for the most basic reason to build new cells and that new cell production is decreased in effectiveness when lacking essential materials with which to build the best quality new cells, a nutritional deficiency is a condition of less life (a subluxation).  A sedentary lifestyle robs the body of the movement necessary to maximize physical well-being, a statement not limited to your muscles, but applicable to all parts of the body, including the heart, the digestive system, and the hormone-producing organs.  Remembering that there is a distinct difference between merely being alive and actually being healthy, a lack of physical activity is, too, a subluxation.   

An over-abundance of fear in what could go wrong and a lack of trust that all will be well is also an example of less life.  Having faith is connected to trust; fear is the antithesis of faith.  In today's world, many are psychologically and spiritually subluxated, if you will, meaning that their lives revolve around fear because they are not grounded in faith and lack the trust that comes with it.  Life is made so much harder - so much lesser - by lack of faith and trust.  "Fear is the path that leads to the dark side,” a wise philosopher once said.  “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering." 

When going through a major change in life, it is common practice to bury the feelings about it.  Of course, the feelings do not go away just because of the attempts to draw attention away from them; emotions not dealt with eventually rear their ugly heads, whether quietly building tension in the mind or in the muscles like a volcano inching toward eruption.  Life lessened, in yet another way exemplifying subluxation.

There is quiet hope that perhaps the introduction of the term subluxation into the wider social lexicon would reflect positively on the chiropractic profession that invented it.  The essentials of healthy living are not mutually exclusive, meaning that proper materials via food are better utilized, movement from working out is more beneficial, and psychological and spiritual healing is easier to come by when the human body functions properly.  A vertebral or brainstem subluxation is essentially a phone call with poor reception that does not go away until you find the source of the connection error.  This is what happens in the spine and what chiropractors are trained to correct with adjustments.  If the nervous system is in a lesser state, every other system in the body will function at reduced capacity too.  There is no more common source for connectivity issues in either the cell phone or the human body network than the tower, or in the body’s case the brainstem (see Upper Cervical Care). 

This exercise can be taken even deeper (would you want your doctor, airline pilot, chef, etc. to be operating under various conditions of less life or at optimal states?); let us conclude, then, with the following: picture in your mind the peak example of an optimal life lived, and then picture someone bed-ridden, hooked up to machines to keep him/her alive.   The distinction is important because health is the study of what causes people to fully live, but that which comprises American “health” care focuses instead on illness and what causes people to die.  Subluxation is a useful descriptive label, creating better awareness of how one goes from healthy to ill, and then how one becomes healthy again.  If health is about optimizing life, subluxation calls attention to what diminishes life.  

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

The Mamba Mentality: What We Can Learn From Kobe Bryant

As an observer of his life and career, if I were asked to play word association for Kobe Bryant, the two descriptive terms I would choose would be passionate and resolute.  Those are traits that have come to strongly resonate with me, characteristic as they are of the kind of person that I strive to be every day.  He inspired me, a point that I have been ruminating on a lot these past few weeks in the wake of his sudden passing.  So, while we mourn the tragedy, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the traits I most associated with him, because they were what in my mind made him great, and what made Kobe great serves as inspiration to maximize our time on this Earth.

I followed his entire career.  He was one of those players that I will be talking with fellow basketball enthusiasts about for the rest of my life.  When I think about Kobe, his resolute quest for greatness is the first thing that comes to mind, not just in the game of basketball for which he is best known, but in his life in general.  His career in the NBA was Top 10 all-time great, of course; it was his transition to his post-basketball life, though, that I admired most.  Few players in the history of the game were as passionate about basketball as Kobe, but when his body told him it was time to retire, he listened and then he channeled his passion elsewhere. 

To flow gracefully from one phase of life to another, finding new ways to positively contribute to the world, was one of Kobe’s skills that all of us could learn.  Among other endeavors, he converted the poem (referenced below) that announced his retirement into a documentary short that won an Academy Award, further cultivated his filmmaking interest by opening a production company focused on increasing diversity, developed an academy to help people unlock their full potential, and became a much more engaged father to his kids.   

Kobe had his personal controversies, but he always tried to become a better person because of them, and he channeled that energy right back into his passions once re-centered in his life.  Such is why perhaps no basketball player this century is as revered by his peers, who he openly embraced once he could turn his level of competitiveness toward them down a notch (or eight).  Getting knocked off course, only to respond resolutely and climb to the next peak in life…that’s the key to success.  To paraphrase Kobe, everything negative in life presents opportunities for us to rise. 

I had always quietly hoped that healthcare reform might have become of interest to him.  He was arguably the hardest working basketball player of any first-ballot Hall of Famer, relentlessly trying to maximize his physical potential, in the waning years of his prime through making smarter and more innovative health choices.  His extraordinarily studious nature and distinguished reputation would have been incredible assets to re-focusing healthcare on health and moving it beyond the dark ages of diagnosing and treating symptoms.  He would have picked apart every flaw in the system and made everyone more aware of them, rather sternly based on his leadership style on the court.  Fellow warriors in the fight to change the way that people think about healthcare, imagine Kobe Bryant being on our “team.” 

To win the battle for American healthcare, we will have to overcome a modern dynasty; the allopathic viewpoint renders the holistic movement a comparative expansion franchise much in need of infrastructure and influential support.  Essential to our cause will be the eventual equivalent of Kobe lobbing the alley-oop pass that Shaq dunked to push the Lakers toward the 2000 NBA Championship, overcoming the differences in our individual approaches to accomplish a greater collective goal.  Until then, we will have to each follow Kobe’s approach that won Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, struggling as we might at times but willing ourselves ever closer to a much-needed healthcare revolution. 

The phrase that Kobe invented to describe his famous work ethic was “The Mamba Mentality,” defined simply as the daily process of striving to be better.  For most of his 42 years, Kobe was consciously passionate about what he was doing in his life, amplifying his successes and contextualizing his failures, while continually earning people’s respect.  His was a life worth celebrating and emulating. 

As the clock winds down to the waning seconds of this reflection, I’ll paraphrase from Kobe’s Oscar-winning “Dear Basketball.”  No matter what phase in life we are in, whether seeing the end of the tunnel or still imagining what it would be like to walk out of one, no matter how many “seasons” we have left to give, we should strive to savor every moment, the good and the bad, all that we have, resolute in our passion to optimize our health, our lives, and the world around us.  Thanks, Kobe. 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

Fibromyalgia and American Healthcare's Diagnosis Problem

Everyone is different.  That phrase gets thrown around with increasing frequency, does it not?  If you study our society, though, it becomes apparent that people truly believe that phrase about as often as they commit to the classic health tenets of nutrition and exercise (statistically, about one in ten people).  Everyone is indeed unique, but our society also seems uniquely set on labeling everybody, then forming opinions based on those labels.  Sociologically, labels regarding race and sexual orientation are two examples of very prominent topics piercing our consciousness and forcing us to further examine our perspectives.  With modern American healthcare, interestingly, we have been slower to recognize comparable patterns of labeling.

A diagnosis is a label too, and it has the same dangerous potential to follow a person around, altering both the perception of that person by others and that person's own perception of his/herself.  Perception is reality; it has been scientifically verified that people generally struggle to break free from the bias of labels.  People can watch a video of a girl playing in front of a garbage-strewn street in the city and draw the conclusion that she is not as intelligent as the exact same girl shown, in a separate video, playing in front of a suburban home with an abundance of well-manicured trees and a nice picket fence.  Similarly, as happens all the time in healthcare, a person can be given a diagnosis based on a series of symptoms that strips their every individual characteristic away in order to fit them into a treatment-specific generalization bubble. 

Fibromyalgia is a prime example of the dangers of labeling.  Though its symptoms are quite real, Fibromyalgia is merely a title applied to the increasingly common health problem of experiencing muscular pain throughout the body more intensely.  Most traditional physicians will tell you that the condition has no cause and no cure, but that is as bold and over-generalized a statement as suggesting that a girl from a challenging socioeconomic background cannot become a game-changing entrepreneur who debunks many of these diagnostic myths. 

There are numerous known causes for severe widespread muscle pain due to chemical imbalances in the brain (aka Fibromyalgia), nutritional deficiencies and the brainstem subluxation / misalignment of the anatomy (cervical vertebrae 1 and 2) that protects the nerve system's hub, to name two examples.  The upper neck misalignment also makes the head shift forward over the shoulders, consequently prompting the natural curve in the neck to be lost and decreasing normal motion among the vertebrae throughout the cervical spine; normal motion is the catalyst for pain-relieving endorphin production in the central nervous system, and deficient endorphin levels make it more likely to experience pain. 

Unfortunately, diagnosing (labeling) has become the clinical end game for traditional medicine, a stimulus not for fundamental change but for symptom treatment through drug therapy.  Traditionalists trained predominantly in pathology struggle to connect to information beyond their training, which is in diagnosing and treating symptoms and disease, even if they maintain a basic knowledge that most of the 10,000 possible diagnoses are attributable to poor health habits.  These labels, such as Fibromyalgia, do not characterize cause, just effect, but people often hold them up as gospel, living their lives around the diagnosis and its associated medical treatments, fear struck so deeply into their hearts and minds that they come to think of the label as being as specific to them as their fingerprints. 

The modern medical system teaches its doctors to label and prescribe, and to place an otherworldly amount of faith in randomized, clinically controlled trials which are designed to eliminate the complexities of the people they are diagnosing.  Traditionalists then pass the modern medical mindset down to the people that they treat. 

When a person gets diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, a label attached to the gradual decrease in ability to produce blood sugar-regulating insulin, rather than learn the physiology (and neurology and biochemistry) of how it develops and be encouraged to address the underlying causes specific to him/her individually, inaction and/or drugs are emphasized as if fate had already been sealed.  If another person is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a fancy nickname for multiple areas of scarring on the brain and spinal cord from lesions prompted by an autoimmune response, multi-system destroying immune suppressants are given instead of addressing the various causes of the immune system attacking the body.  Given the label of osteoarthritis, also known as degeneration, people are unknowingly made to assume that it is an age-specific process uninfluenced by anything else (like structural balance, which determines structural integrity), and accordingly are shielded from the options that can slow it down and dramatically ease its associated symptoms. 

If you alter various physiological and psychological patterns accumulated over time, then labels may no longer apply, but diagnoses are not used as a starting point to awaken in a person's mind an understanding that it is time to do things differently (to optimize the brain and body's internal communication network, to perform regular constructive exercise, to overhaul nutritional habits, to value stress management as a life skill, to re-balance the body physically to remove constant muscular strain, to fully address mental trauma, etc.).  Lifestyle change, the key to restoring health, is not a fundamental goal of the modern medical system, neither in regular clinical practice nor in laboratory research.

Labeling has, to borrow a common medical term, a lot of side effects, bottom line.  It can make you feel defeated, and its common treatments can further your health decline.  None of the above even broaches the subject of misdiagnosis (another way of stating the improper application to a person of a particular label), which sadly is as typical as it is both extremely dangerous and economically inefficient, major concerns considering American healthcare's last place standing among its industrialized peers in outcomes despite ranking first in spending.  If we want to change healthcare, it is time we start re-assessing the same labeling issues found in other parts of our society. 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

The Phases of the Healing Process

One of the most awesome things in life is the birth of a child.  It is the ultimate reward, seeing a baby come into the world, an experience that brings unparalleled joy.  The reward comes at the end of a long process, citing not just the birth itself but the 280-some-odd days leading up to it.  Be it unanticipated or the result of a conscious plan, pregnancy and the subsequent birth arrive all the same through a physiological process that takes an original pair of cells and turns them into the trillions of cells that shape a newborn baby.  Going through it is to varying degrees a life-altering challenge, taking as it does a lot of patience and support, but the payoff is worth every bit of the effort. 

Pregnancy can be categorized by multiple phases, as can birth.  Truthfully, just about everything in life that we value requires the completion of various phases, from a championship season by a sports team to a degree hanging on the wall to retirement at the end of a successful career.  Health is no different.  Nevertheless, generations who have been conditioned since a young age to regard symptom management as the hallmark of healthcare are generally reluctant to accept that health is a process-based achievement instead of something that can be quickly acquired.  Instant gratification has become such a big part of our lives and it has made several things that were once an inconvenience simpler, but that mindset does not belong at the core of a discussion about health any more than it does when talking about excelling in school or winning a national title.  Imagine a world in which couples thought that having a baby took just a few weeks in total, that it would not be hard and at times be very uncomfortable.  That alternate reality has become a microcosm of American healthcare. 

Among the goals of grassroots education aimed at changing the health system is to help the public understand healing, an infrequently discussed topic in the conventional medical practices that dominate 95% of healthcare in the United States.  Pregnancy is an apt point of comparison to healing because most everyone experiences pregnancy in some way and becomes familiar with the trimester milestones, the various associated symptoms, and the rigors of labor and delivery.  It has been estimated that between only 3% and 12% of Americans lead healthy lifestyles, so the reality for most of us is that our healing journeys are going to be lengthy, include multiple phases, and have their fair share of ups and downs; it is important to recognize that and embrace the challenge so as not to quit striving before the body has had the opportunity to make significant change. 

So, to better understand healing, please review the following breakdown of its phases.  Though a lack of uniform language exists to connect the forthcoming labels of the healing process across all health practitioners, the themes of each description should mostly translate. 

The first phase of the healing process is stabilization.  Be it long-term structural imbalance and the effect that the shifted anatomy has on the body's ability to function properly, having little to no guidance in how to actively combat the cumulative effects of emotional stress, malnutrition (part of the definition of which is not eating enough of the right foods), or a sedentary lifestyle that involves no regular physical exertion, the initial step toward health involves the adoption, often through regular facilitation from experts in the various fields of the healing arts, of better anatomical, physiological, neurological, psychological, and nutritional habits.  Existing symptoms can still remain prevalent during this phase.  Rome was not built in a day, the body does not break down overnight, and it will not heal overnight either, but this phase points the suffering in the direction of healing.

More stable ground, so to speak, has been reached when there is a reasonable expectation that constructive habits can be sustained without as much guidance.  At that point, the healing phase begins.  The longer healthier habits (i.e. normal function, structural alignment, meditation, etc.) remain in place, the more the body and mind change from states of dis-ease, characterized by growing consistently toward sickness, to states of ease, characterized by growing consistently toward wellness.  The healing process is akin to traveling back across a road already traveled, so know that, as the body heals, there can be some bumps along the way, sometimes in the form of familiar symptoms flaring up and at other times in the form of symptoms that have not manifested in many years coming back.  One name for this dynamic is retracing, which acknowledges that just as it took many years for the body to lose health, it also takes time to regain it. 

During the healing phase, which is the longest period of the process, health practitioners are still needed regularly to facilitate further goal-setting, provide accountability, and make adjustments to certain habits, though the proverbial ball is increasingly passed from the healer to the person doing the healing.  The wellness phase, then, is characterized by learning what life is like with general health having been achieved, approaching a new normal physically and mentally.  The habits instilled to realize that level of well-being are challenged by but mostly upheld through stressful life circumstances, with facilitators steadily decreasing their roles.  Finally, there is the lifestyle phase, when health becomes an expectation, responsibility for maintaining it has been fully accepted, the body’s ability to express its optimal resiliency is readily apparent, and health practitioners are periodically visited just to make sure everything is OK.

In Utopia, healthcare would follow the lead of dentistry, teaching self-care protocols within the first few years of life, making visits to health practitioners about being proactive rather than reactive, and encouraging spinal check-ups along with nutritional counseling, exercise requirements, and classes about stress management as soon as elementary school.  Back in our reality, health must unfortunately be lost before it can be found.  Be it an unanticipated diagnosis that demands imminent change or the result of a conscious plan prompted by the proliferation of symptoms that can no longer be instantly alleviated, the ensuing phases of healing follow a physiological process that will require patience and support, but the health potential realized will be worth every bit of the effort. 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

What is The Medtrix?

(Author’s Note – the following was inspired by the 1999 film, The Matrix, which the author has long found to be philosophically consistent with the American healthcare crisis)

The Medtrix is everywhere.  It is all around us; it is visible or audible in almost every room.  You can see it when you look into your cabinet, when you drive down the street, when you read a magazine, when you scroll through social media, and when you turn on your television.  You can feel it when a healthcare topic comes up, when you go to the doctor’s office, and when you pay your insurance bills.  It is the blinder that has been pulled over your eyes to keep you ignorant to a rather harsh reality…

What harsh reality?

That healthcare in America, though a highly influential and profitable system, is broken.  For multiple generations and counting, it has been imprisoned by a fundamentally flawed mindset that health is, rather than a multi-factorial personal responsibility, a state of being that can seemingly be achieved only by surrendering control to various forms of pharmaceutical medicine and its supporters. 

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Medtrix is…you have to see it for yourself.  So, this is your chance to gain clarity on a subject that can make you feel a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit-hole.  You cannot unlearn the information about to be shared.  Figuratively, you may take the blue pill, stop reading this, and move on with your day; but you may also take the red pill, read on, and learn how deep the rabbit-hole goes.  All that is being offered here is the truth, nothing more. 

Consider the definition of health by American standards – when you are free of injury or illness or symptoms – and the means about which that definition of health is achieved – drug therapies primarily, followed by surgical procedures.  80% of all the pharmaceuticals in the entire world are consumed in the United States, despite Americans making up just 5% of the world’s population.  Doctors and researchers at the prestigious medical universities of Harvard and Johns Hopkins have attempted to make public knowledge that, in large part because we over-consume pharmaceuticals, the 3rd leading cause of death in America is medical error; and both institutions have made inferences to the accuracy of conclusions drawn by other researchers that medical error is actually the #1 cause of death in the United States.  Is it really so hard to believe?  We see and hear drug ads that warn of these dangers daily, but they rarely register.

The USA also ranks #1 worldwide in unnecessary surgeries.  In fact, a quarter of the spending on healthcare in America has been deemed unnecessary – unwarranted labs and diagnostic imaging included.  Of all the industrialized nations, the United States grossly outspends its peers, with nearly 20% of the gross domestic product dedicated to pharmaceuticals and surgeries; dollars spent on so-termed “alternatives to medicine,” for reference, is 0.001% of the $10,379 average per person spent on drugs and surgery.  Yet, while we spend far more than the other industrialized countries, we rank last among them in outcomes.  The truth, it seems, is not without a sense of irony; we spend more money than everyone else to be sicker than everyone else. 

“Health” insurance premiums being so high are both a by-product of the above and fuel to sustain it.  Whereas once it was used to protect against the financial burdens of hospitalization, it has in modern times been heavily over-utilized for situations that are mostly inappropriate.  The third party payer trend has created a dynamic in which premiums organically keep rising.  After all, the law of insurance states that the greater the likelihood of grim circumstances, then the more money it will cost to purchase insurance against them.  Free your mind, walk through the door; insurance is most affordable when fewer claims are being filed, but if the majority of health issues are designated as “in need of a conventional doctor's pharmaceutical recommendations” and if those physician-recommended drugs are only affordable through insurance, then premiums cannot decrease. 

What is the Medtrix?  Control.  The Medtrix is a system of diagnosing and treating symptoms and disease masquerading as something it is not by attaching words like “health” and “wellness” to its literature and social lexicon; it has tragically convinced the population, including most doctors, that health is an instantly-gratifying proposition that requires little to no personal effort, stimulating reliance on its methods and its methods alone.  We have adopted rules and regulations perfectly suited for the Medtrix that are built not on being healthy, but rather on addressing the various symptoms that stem from being unhealthy; and the insurance industry that supports it is no more about health than life insurance is about life. 

Many who are reading this already knew something about the Medtrix.  What you knew, perhaps you could not have explained, but you felt it.  You have likely felt it ever since the first time that you questioned the teachings of conventional medicine; that there is something wrong with American healthcare.  You may not have known how to fully contextualize it, but the feeling had been there, like a splinter in your mind, at odds with simple logic and basic laws such as cause and effect.  Some of you have even attempted to speak out against the flaws of the system and encountered great and at times torrid resistance from those so inured and so hopefully dependent on the system that they would fight for it even in the face of overwhelming statistical evidence.

To you and the others in the process of getting unplugged, if you will, from the Medtrix, there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.  The information shared today is not a reflection of how the story of American healthcare is going to end; rather, it sets the stage for how the story of American healthcare is going to begin.  The grassroots movement away from the pharmaceutical philosophy is going to continue to exemplify that health can be achieved without its methods, to empower people with proper education on healthy lifestyles, to prioritize drugs and surgery as the last resort instead of the only option, and to only use third party payers for emergencies, as is the case with all other insurance types.  We can change American healthcare.  Where we go from here is a choice left to you.

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

What the World Needs Now...

These are tumultuous times.  The world has and always will have its problems, but our challenges today are amplified by the volume of reminders about them. 

It is realistic, the possibility of disengaging from social issues by avoiding television news outlets that have made sensational headlines their primary means of engagement or by signing off of social media, which offers more immediate access than any previous medium to a collection of “trends” that may as well be labeled, “This is how bad things have become.”  Frankly, disengaging in spurts is healthy, but if when you gain that wisdom, then you also become an important part of the solution to these various issues. 

Why would a person choose to disconnect from the world’s ills?  For some, the choice to do so is met with derision, perhaps with a comment along the lines of “you cannot bury your head in the sand” to boot.  The thing about burying your head in the sand, though, is that it blocks out the racket.  Given how loud, if you will, that the world is presently, it would benefit everybody to occasionally find some measure of quiet time, and if doing so requires temporarily burying one's head in the sand, then so be it.  A person, therefore, chooses to disconnect for their own well-being, for the purpose of getting into a headspace that allows for self-examination, goal-setting, and the creation of the processes that stimulate change in the individual – and you never know how something that you think, say, or do today could affect the lives of millions tomorrow [i].

Where would we be without the assembly line, the transportation industry, or the personal computer that segued to the smart phone?

How far can we progress when technologies like thermography are being positioned to hopefully help lead American healthcare out of the doldrums of its treatment-obsessed foundations and into a future that prioritizes prevention and maintenance? 

What would the world look like if Henry Ford, Dr. BJ Palmer, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, other visionaries like them, and their supporters who kept seeking change had been too consumed with arguing about righteous claims to explore and meditate on paradigm-shifting ideas?

Who are going to be the next generation of problem-solvers?  If that is not who you are or what you aspire to, then you can be a staunch supporter of whoever they may turn out to be, but all who make the choice to be agents of change must recognize the value of introspection so that clear-headed, often difficult decisions can be made, many that may involve letting old perceptions cease to be realities, no matter how convenient to believe otherwise. 

Take an issue like mass shootings.  They happen all the time – there have actually been more mass shootings this year than there have been days – and yet nothing seems to be changing.  The phrase “polarizing topic” was meant to describe a scenario in which people’s opinions conflicted, not that people were allowed only one narrow viewpoint.  Yet, each time a mass shooting occurs, the majorities on either side of the debate roar back to the forefront with their all or nothing thinking.  Watching intelligent people attempt to turn an “and also,” much-needed discussion into yet another “either or” argument is rather painful to see play out, is it not?  We have probably all engaged in it at some point. 

Strong odds favor the end to the mass shooting epidemic not coming until an alliance of well-rounded people steps back from the circular arguments and recognizes the multi-faceted underlying issues that cause the problem.  Half of the civilian-owned guns in the world belong to Americans, who make up 5% of the world’s population; almost every known mass shooter in recent American history has been on some sort of anti-psychotic drug; each dynamic on down to video games, which in some distressed minds normalize ending human life, must be evaluated, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may have been deemed in our argument-culture.  

Healthcare is another such issue.  Kids are consistently sicker right now than ever before in the United States[ii].  95% of the so-termed “healthcare” system is wrapped up in a reactionary, disease/symptom-oriented philosophy that should make up less than half of the industry.  Instead, we consume 80% of the entire world's pharmaceutical production, we spend more money on healthcare than almost every other country combined and rank at the bottom of the barrel in health statistics, and we encourage people to treat their health like a car that can run forever without significant attention to maintenance and then give only weeks to months commitment to fixing a condition often several decades in the making.  How can we expect change if we remain so wrapped up in defending the status quo in spite of overwhelming evidence to discredit it?

What the world needs now is to turn its mental volume down.  If we change the way that we look at things, then the things that we look at will change[iii].  The world is noisy, but God whispers[iv].  The answers to our problems are out there waiting to be discovered, but we have to foster the calmness and clarity of mind so that we can hear them. 

[i] BJ Palmer
[ii] Harvard Medical School
[iii] Wayne Dyer      
[iv] Julia Monnin

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

An All Too Common Traumatic Tale

Amelia was born in typical fashion.  Her mother labored for over 24 hours, pushed until Amelia’s head became visible, and then was assisted by the doctor, who pulled Amelia the remainder of the way into the world by her head.  Amelia’s father was amazed as he watched the birthing process because when the doctor pulled, he noticed that his newborn daughter’s neck was stretched and twisted like a rubber band.  Basic tests all being normal, she was given a clean bill of health and went home soon after.  Her dad could not help but wonder, though, “Were the standard post-birth exams thorough enough?”

He was right to wonder.  According to Abraham Towbin, M.D. (Harvard Medical School), “Life for the newborn depends upon the preservation and healthy functioning of the brainstem and spinal cord at the level of the upper neck,” an area adversely affected by the sort of pulling that Amelia and nearly all other infants experience during the birthing process, either by the doctor’s hands (normal or C-section), forceps, or suction.  German medical physician and researcher, Gottfried Gutmann, found that up to 80% of newborns suffered subtle upper cervical spinal (neck) injuries during delivery and that, despite the prevalence, typical exams almost never identify them. 

Amelia’s conventional pediatrician assured her dad that his concerns were unfounded, even when he brought up a condition that he had read about in medical texts that some call “traumatic birth syndrome,” which is caused by the aforementioned upper neck injury and its impact on the hub of the nerve system (the brainstem) positioned where the head and neck meet.  Traumatic Birth Syndrome has been connected with a variety of both common infant symptoms such as ear infections, colic, and sleeping trouble, as well as generally thought to be more serious diagnoses. 

Her dad thought little of it thereafter, only occasionally recalling what he had read when Amelia was learning to walk and would repeatedly hit her head so hard on the floor and furniture, and then later when she started testing her limits as a toddler and could rarely escape a month without a tear-inducing head trauma.  After all, she was not bleeding, she clearly had no broken bones, and she was conscious; Amelia’s mom insisted on a hospital visit after a few head to floor hits that could be heard everywhere in the house when they happened, but routine medical checks cleared her of anything obviously wrong. 

It was her mom that began to become more curious about the relationship between these head traumas and her daughter’s health when Amelia started having headaches during her early school years.  Her nephew had suffered numerous concussions and, as a result, she learned that many concussions, particularly mild ones, happen earlier on in life and go undiagnosed. 

By a 500:1 ratio compared to the rest of our lives combined, physical traumas in general occur most often from birth to roughly age 10.  Parents are taught only to be concerned with the pronounced and immediate effects, but the subtler, longer-term aftermath associated for instance with the loss of head/neck alignment – which basically wraps a bony band around part of the brainstem, restricts blood flow to the brain, and causes the entire physical frame to adapt in compensation – is just as significant, albeit often delayed a few years to even decades (it should never be forgotten how resilient the body is by nature and how long it can maintain for you a largely even keel).  It does not require a concussion-inducing head trauma to cause an upper cervical spinal misalignment; 95 Gs of force is an impact consistent with concussions, but it takes just 4 Gs of force to lose head/neck alignment. 

Equilibrium depending as it does on the eyes being level, a function of the head being perfectly balanced on top of the neck, the muscles throughout the body constantly compensate (returning the head to being relatively level) following a trauma that causes head/neck misalignment – what those in the Upper Cervical Chiropractic field frequently refer to as a brainstem “subluxation.” 

Amelia was in middle school when she started suffering from Migraines.  Traditionalists in healthcare quickly talked her mom out of exploring anything “outside the box” in the standard headache years and had insisted that the best route for Amelia was drug treatments, later upgrading the strength of the pharmaceuticals to counteract the worsening Migraine symptoms.  She would go onto be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and live in chronic pain through her twenties before her world was rocked with talk of her having Multiple Sclerosis at age 35.  When she was in college, Amelia’s car had been t-boned and totaled, her arm broken, and fortunately her head CT scan was negative, but again no one looked for the subtle yet incredibly influential foundational head/neck misalignment.

Just as three degrees separate flying to Washington, D.C. instead of New York from Los Angeles, a shift of the upper cervical spinal anatomy of a few degrees or millimeters fundamentally alters functional capacity from the effect on the brainstem, the first organ created during in-uterine development and the cell tower of the human body network, directing the traffic on the information super highway that is your brainstem, brain, spinal cord, and nerves (your central nervous system) – in addition to the foundation-shifting effect it has on the body structurally. 

Physiology (how things function) is dependent on the correct position of the anatomy.  It is basic applied science to recognize that the incorrect position of the anatomy negatively changes the physiology – a foundational shift in the upper neck caused by trauma years earlier and consequently gradual declines in resiliency are linked to nearly every pain condition, to autoimmune disorders, to premature physical breakdown, etc. – and then to develop a system of identification and correction like that used by Upper Cervical Chiropractors.  Structural imbalance can be identified in a few minutes via the trained eye, the brainstem being compromised is easily identifiable through a technology called thermography, and the details necessary to determine how to correct these findings can be discovered via specific x-rays or 3D CT scans.

Rewinding back to the beginning of Amelia’s story, what if someone was on hand to assess the status of her head and neck alignment within hours of the birthing process, and what if she was later assessed periodically for head and neck alignment like kids have their teeth checked by a dentist?  The first step to implementing such a logical part of basic health assessments is awareness of trauma’s significant long-term influence on the ability to be healthy.  Amelia’s story and the millions like hers are mostly preventable if the subtler effects of trauma are corrected shortly after the trauma happens. 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

Lawn Care, Marvel Superheroes, and Putting it All Together

It's summer-time!  A period of the year that involves a lot of lawn mowing and blockbuster movies among other seasonal characteristics.

Our guest blogger this month, author Julia Monnin, recently wrote in her own newsletter that most of us are ardent about tending to our grass after a rainy week or two messes up the lawn care schedule, but that we oddly do not apply a similar ethic toward the things that matter more to our own personal well-being.  Lawn care over health care?  Really...?  Yes, really.  That is the way it goes right now.  If the grass gets too high, then we plan an attack like the evil Thanos of Marvel Cinema lore is descending on our homes from planet Titan, but taking the steps to ensure long-term well-being is not nearly as high on the priority list for most.  

Consequently, every newsletter that I write is thematically linked to fundamentally altering the way that you look at health, so that you can more readily recognize the basic things that you need in order to achieve it.  Combating most of what I teach is the mindset that permeates almost every facet of our healthcare system in America: that your role in being healthy is minimal and that you should just wait around until you have symptoms, then treat them ad nauseum and indefinitely (with a basic mandate that you should not question any of this).  No one taught us that it is a lot harder to get a sick person well than to keep a well person healthy like we were once taught how much easier it is to do lawn maintenance regularly than to let the grass grow a foot tall before mowing.  Until we reach a point in history when the population takes back its personal responsibility to be healthy, which would lend itself to a proactive rather than reactive paradigm shift and re-position health education toward prevention and maintenance, we are going to have to come to grips with the following, which I creatively commented on in my December 2018 newsletter:

In the fight to be healthy, like Avengers: Infinity War,
I can be your Spider-Man, but you’ll also need Thor,
And Hulk and Captain America, even Dr. Strange,
Iron Man and Black Widow too for overall change;
So, think integratively when getting or staying well,
To serve every organ, muscle, tissue, and cell.

Optimal health cannot be achieved through getting your head on straight OR nutritional change OR affirming your faith OR regaining structural integrity OR consistent exercise OR routine massage OR by meditating daily.  It is not an either-or proposition.  However, if you change all of the above uses of "OR" to "AND" then you have the ability to be the very best version of you possible.  It takes a consistency of health-oriented (which is different than disease-oriented) habits, a commitment to achieving complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity (of symptoms). 

So, assemble your team, and no matter the level of health villainy working against your ability to thrive - be it the equivalent of Thanos wielding the Infinity Stones and pushing you to your absolute limits, or an old rich businessman using a giant iron suit for the first time who is rather easily dispatched (and anywhere in between) - if you take the time and put the effort into unlocking your inborn, borderline superheroic recuperative “powers,” you get well.

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

The Alarm is Sounding...Do NOT Ignore It!

“Intruder alert!  Intruder alert!,” the home security device blares in the middle of the night, the system triggered by a breech designed to warn of a challenge to your safety.  “Go back to bed, put in your ear plugs, and forget about the alarm,” would be a rather strange next automated response. 

We take seriously the signs of a threat when it comes to the place that we live, just as we heed the warnings of the smoke detector or the check engine light in our cars; we have been taught that not to pay immediate attention is to take an unnecessary risk.  These innovations in protecting ourselves, like many inventions of the modern age, borrow concepts from the inner-workings of the human body, and therefore one of the greatest curiosities in recent human history is that we have not been taught to recognize the equivalent warnings that our bodies are in distress; rather, we have been taught to ignore them. 

The average person has over 75 trillion total cells in his/her body.  Each cell performs roughly 200,000 tasks every split second; an infinite number of things just happened in your body while reading the preceding ten words.  Every eight minutes, every six weeks, and every four months, respectively, the make-up of our stomach linings, livers, and blood supplies are replenished cellularly; our bodies are living, breathing regeneration machines.  When a child is born, a popular and very true statement, “It is a miracle!” is frequently expressed, but it remains a miracle from cradle to grave.  We have to learn to trust that “each patient carries his own doctor inside [and] that we are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work”¹ and we have to teach our kids to learn to trust that too because, unequivocally, health depends on it. 

How the key organs that govern the manner in which the body works is a fascinating topic that every child should be learning about in grade school; it is basic applied science.  The central nervous system is the power supply, and it carries electrical energy to each part of the body.  Intriguingly, the hub of the nerve system, the brainstem – our plug into the “source” of electrical energy and the single most vital part of the entire human body – is physically situated in the single most delicate structural area of the entire human body, right where the head and the neck meet inside a bone nicknamed the “Atlas” (the first cervical vertebra, or C1), which is actually the only bone of around 200 overall to be held in place just by muscles instead of the standard bony locks that prevent movement well beyond normal ranges.   

Another peculiar trait about this above-mentioned, particularly unique anatomical feature is that the opening within the Atlas where resides the brainstem – the cell tower of the human body network, the nerve system's Houston control, the body's switchboard operator – is the most narrow part of the spinal column (bones), but the brainstem is actually the thickest part of the spinal cord.  Also, the upper cervical anatomy does not fully develop until roughly the 19th year of life, approximately ten years after experiencing, beginning with birth itself, the vast of majority of the physical traumas – by about a 500 to 1 ratio of the first ten years compared to the next 70-80 years combined – that could potentially alter the head and neck's normal positional relationship (alignment). 

Thus, when symptoms like neck pain, headaches, lack of mental focus, or dizziness (among a litany of others) arise, they are not insignificant and they should not be ignored.  They are your body's way of communicating to you that something is beginning to prevent its ability to thrive, and that in order for it to continue performing all of the automatic, subconscious tasks on its endless list so that you can do whatever you consciously desire without issue, it needs you to fix the problem that it cannot or find the person who can help facilitate the necessary change. 

Our bodies do not ask much of us, but on occasion they need help removing the various forms of interference to their function.  Sometimes, it is as simple an issue as the top bone in your neck has gotten wedged underneath the skull's base because of when you hit your head on the cabinet (or one of the myriad other common traumas in our lives), and after years of keeping the internal assembly line moving along with decreasing efficiency, that misalignment is acting like a rubber-band becoming more tightly wrapped around your brainstem and it needs to be removed so that the most important part of your body can get back to doing its job properly, without impediment. 

Due to the Atlas being in held in place only by muscle, it lacks the structural design to be effectively re-aligned without precision down to the nearest degree and millimeter.  The foramen magnum (big hole) at the base of the skull must line up with the C1 vertebra like two water bottles matched end-to-end because even the slightest shift can create a serious mess.  Upper Cervical Chiropractic solely concerns itself with identifying, correcting, and re-correcting when necessary this foundational misalignment so that the brainstem can be relieved of its compromised state and so that the nervous system can subsequently re-engage at its optimum, guiding your body back to normal.

We all desire to be symptom free and to be as healthy as possible, but in order to achieve those results, we have to pay attention to our bodies.  The longer we wait to discover the source of the warning signs or pleas for help from our bodies and instead medicinally “shush” them, then the longer it will take get well.  We have to take action and be engaged participants in our own health, seeking direction from professionals, like Upper Cervical Chiropractors, who are trained in the art, science, and philosophy of eliminating that which stands in the way of your body optimizing its health potential. 

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

Breathe Like Your Life Depends On It

A conversation with Dr. Corinne Weaver, author of Learning How to Breathe, reveals a rather startling yet oddly not altogether surprising statistic: that we only use about one third of our lung capacities.  Such data is startling because it means that, despite knowledge gained at a young age that we live on earth because it is oxygen-rich and have thus far not discovered another planet with quite that same vital characteristic, we do not take in much of that breathable, life-sustaining source; and it is not altogether surprising, that statistic, because we have spent the last one hundred or so years polluting our air, making it decreasingly desirable to consume, and becoming exhausted by an ever-increasing list of stressors that both physiologically alter our breathing patterns, subconsciously, and energetically deplete us of much desire to consciously breathe our way back into a better rhythm.   

Oxygen is an essential nutrient, though we do not often think of it that way.  Like most aspects of nutrition, more or less defined as the things that we need to bring into our bodies because we do not produce them on our own, oxygen's vital importance has somehow become underrated as healthcare has moved further away from the fundamentals that replenish and sustain life toward the reactionary, disease-treatment model.  Hyperbaric oxygen administered in a chamber with controlled pressure is among the most intriguing treatments more recently developed, so the value of getting more oxygen (and better quality oxygen) to organs and tissues has at least been established.  What would be incredible now is for the public to become more aware of the simple role that oxygen consistently breathed in greater quantities can play in regaining and sustaining health, as well as the detrimental effects that can be caused by improper breathing.   

Starting with the bad and then working our way to the good, when we do not breathe in enough oxygen, then it is not unlike failing to drink enough water, itself another nutrient that, when not consumed in proper amounts, quietly wreaks havoc on the body.  Oxygen is used by the body to make the energy that powers every internal process.  Breathing in a third of our maximum capacity for oxygen consequently reduces the body's ability to function optimally.  It is such a basic thing, but often so simple that it is hard to get just how much it influences our overall well-being.  Not breathing enough, bottom line, handicaps our health potential, contributing to a long list of ailments including lethargy, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, and the production of excess stress hormones. 

The good news is that failure to breathe properly is an issue that can be remedied.  In order to restore normal breathing, we have to reverse the primary habits that cause us to utilize only a third of our lung capacities.  The first of said habits is not knowing how to breathe.  Like reading, optimal breathing is an acquired skill.  To breathe optimally, remember that the nose is best for inhaling and the mouth is best for exhaling.  Then, be sure to engage the diaphragm when inhaling (the abdomen and chest should rise) so that the breath is as deep as possible; using just the lungs (seeing the chest rise and fall but not the abdomen) to breathe is like walking or running without swinging the arms, making breathing awkward and inefficient.  Try to stay focused on the inhale/exhale rhythm too; conscious breathing can be very soothing to the body, so engage with a slow in-breath, hold it for a few seconds, and let it out calmly.

Also like reading, breathing is a skill that we can only master with regular practice, so make time for it.  Working on it during an already established routine, such as when looking at the phone for fifteen minutes right after waking up or when parking the car at work or when saying prayers before bedtime, is a good starting point.  If struggling to prioritize conscious breathing and/or wanting or needing to take the next step in the incorporation process, then consider guided meditations, for which there are numerous smart-phone apps (YouTube is also a great resource).  Guided meditations, lasting as short as five-minutes, command our attention and prompt us to breathe, easing the habit-forming that something as important as increased breathing demands.  Taking a yoga class is another option; there is perhaps no better discipline for improving breath-work. 

Of course, elemental breathing is a task performed automatically by the body; such is the stimulus for the majority of the aforementioned third of our lung capacities being filled.  The brainstem, the hub of the nervous system located where the head and neck meet, directly controls subconscious breathing.  Unfortunately, the brainstem is often compromised when the alignment between the head and upper neck is lost (frequently due to trauma), consequently distorting the line of communication connecting the brainstem to the respiratory system and decreasing lung capacity in the most elementary way possible.  Meanwhile, the anatomy protecting the brainstem being our structural foundation, that same misalignment forces top-to-bottom compensation throughout the rest of the body, altering posture and adding further restriction to breathing on account of the airways being designed in accordance with the original blueprint of the physical frame, not the adapted state.  Therefore, it is a foundational step, when exploring how to optimize breathing, to ensure that our brainstems are functioning properly and that our postures allow for the airways to remain fully open (see Upper Cervical Care).

From this moment forward, do not take oxygen for granted, recognize the inherent downsides to the decreased use of the lungs, and make a commitment both to ensuring that the body is fully capable of elemental breathing by getting the upper cervical spine evaluated and to making time for working on breathing skills.  Please, breathe like your life depends on it…because, honestly, it really does.

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

Prevention vs. Treatment - The Debate that Shapes Healthcare as We Know It

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin once said addressing fire safety.  In the nearly three centuries since, his quote has become synonymous with a philosophical battle being waged in modern healthcare: preventing vs. treating sickness.  Though little disagreement exists in the statement that “keeping a well person healthy is easier than getting a sick person well,” the clear winner in the on-going debate, at least in terms of which dominates our current system, is the treatment camp.  Of the $2.2 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States each year, $1.6 trillion is spent treating consistent examples of poor health; and treatment as the focal point of healthcare has been a catastrophe, as reflected by poor outcomes despite irrational spending. 

One of the primary efforts at fire prevention implemented in the 20th century aimed to install a smoke detector in every house, offering homeowners a warning sign; the strategy has proven incredibly effective.  During that same period, the population has been conditioned to ignore the equivalent warning signs in their bodies, treating the symptoms of fire-like circumstances while remaining largely unaware of the underlying, slow-burning ruin.  “When you hear the smoke detector going off, find it, knock it off the ceiling, and move on with your day,” a hypothetical fire prevention seminar sponsored by modern American healthcare might teach.  Clearly, healthcare should be following the lead of fire safety, not the other way around. 

Our current “health” system has its priorities backwards.  The number one reason why people eat well in the United States is to lose weight and the leading prompt for restoring previously lost structural balance is chronic pain; being overweight and in chronic pain are effects of becoming unhealthy, like fires, and proper nutrition and structural realignment – items on the list of things we fundamentally need in order to maintain good health – are presently used as treatments to put them out.  That has to change. 

It is unlikely to change anytime soon, though.  Nearly all manners of forward-thinking in healthcare are directed toward innovations in treatment, with one particularly noteworthy exception. Among the latest and greatest treatments in the 21st century is stem-cell therapy, which is an intriguing concept that has rapidly expanded its footprint and repute.  Stem-cells are like blank tiles in Scrabble, capable of becoming any cell type that our bodies need them to be, and they are a key facet in the constant and automatic natural regeneration that takes place inside our bodies all the time; stem-cell therapy, then, aims to extract stem-cells and place them where damage has accumulated most on account of injury or breakdown.  Plenty of controversy surrounds the concept, from the source of the stem-cells to the long-term safety of manipulating something as delicate as a living cell; the therapy also falls beyond the orthodox bubble, threatening to disrupt the disease management system status quo and thus generally costing, for a series of treatments, what the average household in America spends on healthcare all year.  Nevertheless, stem-cell treatments are quietly developing a solid reputation for their benefits, and even an opponent of the therapy would have to admit that it makes far more sense to try and channel the body’s innate capacity to repair itself than to stick with the tired idea of chemical introduction to disrupt biochemistry, the hallmark premise of conventional pharmaceutics. 

Still, even if the proliferation of the above becomes a pillar for healthcare modernization in the coming decade or beyond, that it will simultaneously serve to push us collectively further down the rabbit-hole of operating healthcare out of the reactive realm, focusing attention not on the efficacy of preventing disease and breakdown, but on what to do once already broken down and in a diseased state, is concerning.

It is in our nature to want to understand and to want to solve problems, but perhaps the best understanding we could ever reach is that most health problems are caused by losing a game of percentages; more stress than stress management skills, consistent interference within the body’s internal communication network (like putting a dimmer switch on innate functional capacity) minus the tools to eliminate the distortion, and a lifestyle described as sedentary instead of physically active exemplify how abnormal begins to overtake normal, making poor health an inevitability, the end result primarily of a long-term process of degradation rather than the by-product of bad luck or otherwise.  To win the game of percentages, we have to put in the necessary effort; and victory is but a drastic mindset shift away.

Health is not something that can be manufactured; like wealth, it must be earned and continually maintained.  Prevention of sickness alludes to well-being, the maintenance of which – in accordance with a broader definition of health inclusive of the various aforementioned foundational pieces (function, structural balance, nutrition, stress management, and exercise) – signifies a state of wellness strong enough to dramatically reduce the need for treatment protocols. 

In order to adopt a more preventative approach, we would need to put the responsibility for health back in the hands of the people, whose own roles have been preposterously marginalized; part of the process to achieve that cultural shift would involve teaching people that they can and should trust that their bodies will adapt and react as designed if given the support required to do so optimally.  When a baby is born, the phrase “it’s a miracle” is often expressed – and it is indeed miraculous – but the miracle of life continues until we expire and we have far more control over our health during the time in between the beginning and end than has been let on during the medicalization of healthcare over the past forty some odd years. 

Interesting, is it not, that the gold standard for contemporary preventative care mirrors a process that routinely takes place every single day of our lives, that being exposure to traces of microscopic foreign invaders that engage our immune systems into action, building immunity to a plethora of bacteria and viruses.  Basic sciences, biology and physiology specifically, teach that the strength of the immune system, a reflection of health, determines both the degree of exposure and the ability to eradicate invaders.  However, generations of people now believe that laboratory science is more important to immunity than the very immune system that, by comparative ratio of elephant to ant, constantly eliminates disease without artificial assistance. 

By no means, though, does advocating for a preventative model to take the reins of healthcare suggest that treatments are not necessary or that innovations like stem-cell therapy should not still be a major part of the system at large, but the pendulum has currently swung about as far toward the treatment-based model as it can and nothing is likely to change about the state of American healthcare until the pendulum swings significantly in the direction of prevention. 

If we took Franklin’s quote literally – if an ounce of prevention was worth exactly a pound of cure – then we would stand to save over $20 trillion were we to dramatically revamp our healthcare system and focus it on prevention.  So, with that in mind, let the debate resume...

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

You've Got This! - A Motivational Reference Guide Told Through Inspiring Movie Quotes

Don't you just love the movies?  All sorts of films appeal to the human psyche in myriad ways, offering an escape to faraway lands or cathartic triumphs of good over evil or sometimes a couple of hours of mindless fun, but at their best, movies make us feel something that we needed to feel, mentally-stimulating a part of us into which we too infrequently tap.  Movies can be a great source of inspiration, for instance, with some of the most frequently repeated motivational words in modern history coming from film characters.  The following is a celebration of classic dialogue composed of organized movie quotes for the purpose of providing a relatable, go-to resource to keep you motivated toward whatever goals in life you may set.

There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path[i].  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us[ii]; use it constructively, and believe in yourself and what you’re doing.  Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first[iii]; I believe in you. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it[iv].  Don’t ever let somebody tell you [that] you can’t do something.  Alright?  You dream, you [have to] protect it.  People [that] can’t do something themselves tell you [that] you can’t do it.  If you want something, go get it.  Period[v].

You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to[vi].  [You’re] not meant to shut out problems.  You have to face them.  You have to live the life you were [meant] to live[vii].  Oh yes, [the bad times] can hurt.  But you can either run from [them], or learn from [them][viii].  Life’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward[ix].  When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you gotta do?  Just keep swimming…just keep swimming[x].  [We fall] so that we can learn to pick ourselves up[xi]. 

Dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, letting fear prevent you from being your best self…these are patterns to be fought like your life depends on it, because your quality of life does depend on it.  Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light[xii].  Granted, it’s hard, but it’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great[xiii].  The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all[xiv]; the night is darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming[xv].  So, keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise.  Who knows what the tide could bring[xvi]? 

Whether it is health, love, financial freedom, work-life balance, school grades, parenting, or any other aspect of the wonderful existence that you seek, appreciate the process of how success is achieved and look no further than the day in front of you.  Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it[xvii].  You see, our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss[xviii].  To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel.  That is the purpose of life[xix].  We can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude.  We’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include[xx].

Life is about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends.  [It’s] about being able to look your [loved ones] in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth.  And that truth is you did everything you could.  There wasn’t one more thing you could’ve done.  Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart[xxi]?  Remember, great [people] are not born great, they grow great[xxii].  Follow your heart, and you’ll never go wrong[xxiii]. 

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun[xxiv].  Don’t just appreciate the process of life, then….enjoy it!  Be deliriously happy or at least leave yourself open to be[xxv].  Have a martini, shaken, not stirred[xxvi]; if you think you need a bigger boat[xxvii], go get one; find that kind of love that awakens the soul and makes [you] reach for more, that plants a fire in [your] heart and brings peace to [your] mind[xxviii]; since nobody is a failure who has friends[xxix], have someone in your life who can be your wingman anytime[xxx]; and great Scott!, find that 1.21 gigawatts of [energy] that you need[xxxi] and press on with a smile on your face.  Now, you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese[xxxii]. 

May The Force be with you…always[xxxiii].

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

[i] The Matrix
[ii] Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
[iii] Good Will Hunting
[iv] The Wolf of the Wall Street
[v] The Pursuit of Happiness
[vi] Good Will Hunting
[vii] Sound of Music
[viii] The Lion King
[ix] Rocky Balboa
[x] Finding Nemo
[xi] Batman Begins
[xii] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
[xiii] A League of Their Own
[xiv] Mulan
[xv] The Dark Knight
[xvi] Cast Away
[xvii] Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
[xviii] The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
[xix] The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
[xx] Chocolat
[xxi] Friday Night Lights
[xxii] The Godfather
[xxiii] The Sandlot
[xxiv] Mary Poppins
[xxv] Meet Joe Black
[xxvi] James Bond
[xxvii] Jaws
[xxviii] The Notebook
[xxix] It’s a Wonderful Life
[xxx] Top Gun
[xxxi] Back to the Future
[xxxii] Teen Wolf
[xxxiii] Star Wars