The mind is a powerful tool

by Ina Pavila

Our minds can be a powerful tool, if used correctly. I like to look at it as an agent where information is recorded and is processed. This information that we hear, we see, if keyed in correctly, can be a determinant of how our physique/body will respond.
There are neurotransmitters that are connected from our brain to the rest of our body. I can go into detail about serotonin, dopamine, exciters and inhibitors, but I want us to understand two very basic circumstances that happen within our brain and body; what happens when we are sad vs. what happens when we are happy.
When we are experiencing sadness certain chemicals arise for need of sugar to increase the glucose level. That is why sometimes we crave chocolate and sweets which gives a temporary hoist to our emotion.
There are incidents that do arise that are beyond our control for feeling distressed; prolonged sadness or depression needs to be addressed; whether you see a counselor or releasing some of the tension by crying; “the brain accumulates too much tension and needs to release this anxiety, thus, tears are the best way to relieve this, afterwards, endorphins are released that will make you feel better and more relaxed” (
There are words of wisdom that are spoken by our Yup’ik people: Naulluutmun ayatuut qemangqaaqamteki, qiaksaunata pikumta; Wall’ Tamalkuan anlluku. (When we don’t cry and keep things in, it can lead to sickness, so we need to take it all out).
Sadness also can weaken your immune system. There are scientific findings where retained sadness when it is not released can cause sickness. Sadness is a natural body response to alluding circumstances; like grief or depression. Depression is also a natural response in cases of anxiety. Our body produces the hormones that cause depression, in a sense to equalize the amount of anxiety that we are prone to.
Enough about sadness, just the topic is making me melancholy. Let’s move on to the topic of happiness.
“Happy people, as compared with less happy people, tend to have greater immune system function, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and report greater marriage and job satisfaction” [What happens to our cells when we are happy? (].
It takes more muscles (43 to be exact) to make a sad face than it does to make a happy face, (17). So considering the numbers, imagine what it is doing to your body. The face is like a mirror to our bodies, a reflection. When we are sad, we frown. When we are happy, we smile. Considering the figures, smiling/happiness elates the physique and henceforth, your body enjoys the happy chemicals that your brain is releasing.
“A merry heart does good like medicine, but a sorrowful heart dries up the bones”, a proverb that makes some good sense.
I realize that there are times when we cannot “control” things that happen around us and it leads us to sadness, but sadness, like happiness is a mindset. It is healthy to be sad and it is much healthier to cry and release some of the tension in our brain so that endorphins; the good chemical/happy chemical can be released to the body to make us feel better.
I have found personally that music helps me to cope and also music does wonders to the brain. In scientific studies, the brain lights up to music. I choose to sing and that helps me a lot. I always feel better having sung and it is a good coping mechanism. There are other coping skills that can be used; like picking berries, hunting, fishing, crocheting, just to name a few. It is encouraged that you cope in a productive manner rather than destructive.
I do not claim to be a specialist in any of these areas, but I have done a little bit of research on the topic.
If you do tell yourself that you are going to have a good day and you verbalize it to where you can hear yourself, it registers in your brain and subconsciously your brain is working on your behalf; towards having a good day.
So in that light; have yourself the best day today!!
Ina Pavilla is the MSPI Coordinator for the Orutsararmiut Native Council.