Our current national and political climate has developed into a fiery storm of hate and fear rhetoric. African Americans, Hispanics, gays, women, Jews and Muslims have felt victimized. Conservative white nationalists also feel threatened as our nation comes to terms with its growing diversity and the shifts in power. In the midst of this chaos, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports a rise in hate groups and hate incidents.

Hate is an interesting personality trait, related to fear, loss of control and insecurity. In the midst of a hate filled society, I have been fascinated by a new paradigm that is developing concerning the mind-body connection. A paradigm that is at times controversial and difficult to accept, originating from new scientific research and evidence. The new paradigm is that hate is detrimental to the physical health and mental state of the individual who chooses a hateful mindset.

In the last 30 years, numerous studies have found that blaming others, and living a life of hate, can lead to a multitude of mental and physical ailments resulting in the development of diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in a statement that “85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element.” Scientist Candace Pert, discovered that human thought/consciousness effects the entire body through information carrying molecules called neuropeptides. She believed, “The chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion.” From her research she concluded that toxic hateful thoughts are not just thoughts; they are intentions of energy that harm the individuals that harbor them on a cellular level.

As science evolves, more studies on the mind-body connection are emerging. I do want to note, however, that associations and causations are still being solidified. One question of great interest is, “Are toxic emotions also toxic to your entire body?” The National Institutes of Health cites several studies involving the relationship between psychological factors, disease and even epigenetics. One study found a correlation between depression and breast cancer. Another study found that cancer may be caused by the suppression of toxic emotions; primarily hatred, resentment and grief. Suppression of negative emotions increased the stress hormone, cortisol, which directly suppressed immune system function. When the immune system is not functioning properly, normal cells may mutate into cancer cells. And yet another study found that when living with negativity over time, “bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation and physical disease.” Hate, on a cellular level, appears to have the ability to trigger genes activating genetically prone diseases.

Going even deeper, scientists have discovered that thoughts are quantifiable-energy-patterns that ripple out into the quantum universe and impact the world around you. In her fascinating, but somewhat controversial book, The Intention Experiment, Lynn McTaggart, cites numerous studies that indicate “your thoughts impact you, those people around you and your material reality.”

On their website, The Mayo Clinic states that while it is still unclear how positive thinking has a direct benefit, it does provide numerous health benefits.

Since the new science is theorizing that thoughts directly impact our health, should we consciously analyze our thought patterns and reprogram our thoughts to healthy thoughts? As so many of us have experienced, positive thoughts resonate an energy that just feels good!

The good news is that several clinical studies have shown a multitude of benefits from the practice of gratitude, love and giving thanks. Gratitude lowers blood pressure, improves immune function, facilitates deeper sleep, betters heart health, results in less inflammation, and reduces depression and fatigue. Gratitude is a beneficial emotional energy and works because it is a way of perceiving and interpreting life, it recruits other positive emotions that have direct mental and physical benefits.

With hate-filled messages bombarding us daily, each of us must consciously guard our thoughts. Harboring positive, loving and peaceful thoughts, first within yourself, and then radiating those into your world creates a state of joy, aspiration and a more harmonious community. Why Not Hate? Because your health and mental well being are at stake!

Allison Moore is a board member and founder of a local homeless shelter and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion piece by board members appear in this space each week.