About 3,000 years ago, one of the wisest men to have ever lived penned through divine inspiration this statement: “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Solomon’s statement speaks to the fact that in many cases, it is the emotional and spiritual attitude of an individual that sustains his or her physical existence as much or more than physical factors. On March 28, 2006, a brief article on loneliness provided some excellent modern scientific documentation for Solomon’s sentiments.
The study was in no way exhaustive since it only looked at information from about 229 adults. But the results were quite interesting. In a nut shell, the study showed that loneliness can be a potential factor that increases blood pressure. The study further indicated that when individuals became more emotionally connected to others and less lonely, their blood pressure can decrease. In fact, the authors of the study suggested that the “magnitude of the effect of loneliness on blood pressure is comparable to the magnitude of reduction that can be achieved through weight loss and exercise” (Hawkley and Berry as quoted in Minerd, 2006). Thus, one can see that the physical factors of losing weight and exercise can potentially be matched or eclipsed by the emotional attitudes of an individual, exactly as Solomon suggested.
Drs. Hawkley and Berry noted that many factors in the culture of the United States tend to increase the opportunity for loneliness and that, “under these circumstances risk of loneliness increases, and along with it so does risk of morbidity and mortality” (Minerd, 2006). In other words, emotional distress “dries the bones.”
Solomon’s ancient wisdom is as relevant to today’s society as it was to his three millennia ago. The Bible’s timeless nature is exactly the product that what would be expected from an all-knowing God Who can declare “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).
Minerd, Jeff (2006), “Loneliness Weighs Heavily on the Heart,” [On-line], URL: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Hypertension/tb/2947.
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