Boleh! Practicing the Art of Being Okay
Dear Citizen Scientists,
This note is meant to lift you up, to put a smile on your face, and remind you that everything is okay (and might be better than okay). Why am I reminding you of this now? As the pandemic drags on, Covmerica needs to hear this. Read it for yourself, and spread it far and wide. This note is all about Boleh!
So what is Boleh?
I believe the human body wakes up each day designed to thrive and goes to bed each night wanting to heal. And it is waiting, with infinite intelligence packed into every cell, for you – the physiologic master and commander – to give it signals. If you want to boil health down, through the filter of ancient and modern philosophies, into one word it is: signals.
Each day, you choose those signals. The more love letters you give and receive, the more life. The more poisoned pen letters, the more disease. The more status quo memos, well… you get the picture.
The physical extension of the brain, what we call the eye, is constantly sending signals to the body about readiness, relevance, reliability, resources and recreation. What you may not know is that the electrical energy we call thoughts, often triggered by what we see and hear, literally end up becoming proteins in our body.
“If God is for me, who can be against me?”
“What’s behind me and what’s ahead of me pale in comparison to what’s inside of me…”
“Anything is possible today!”
…all of these messages send signals of hope, power, strength and readiness. On the other hand, these messages…
“I’m never enough”
“I will never change”
“I deserve the guilt and shame I’m carrying…”
“It’s all her fault”
…send signals of of despair, emptiness, weakness, fear. These are dying messages.
The words we speak are signals that reverberate out and come back to us as medicine or poison.
The foods we put in our body carry signals too. Whether we rest and sleep or exercise and play, these all send powerful signals as well. Communication is the bedrock of great marriages and great corporate climates. The same holds true for the body.
After fifteen years of cosmetic, and reconstructive surgery practice I’ve learned that health is a top-down phenomenon. It begins in the mind. And healing signals don’t have to be complex, expensive and locked in a hospital to be wildly effective.
Sometimes a single word can be powerful medicine.
Enter Boleh. I’ve been exposed to many cultures and many different languages, and without any hesitation I exalt Boleh as my very favourite word.
It has a great ring doesn’t it? Boleh (pronounced “Bo-lay”)
Pictured above: Dr. Miller and friends near the top of Mountain Kota Kinabalu
It’s got contour, finesse and fun.
Say it slowly, rocked-back and Boleh means “of course; can; sounds good to me.”
Say it loudly with a fist pump and Boleh means “I’m in! Let’s go!”
Say it gently with a smile and a nod and Boleh means “don’t worry; I got your back.”
I’ve heard most versions of Boleh and they all have one thing in common:
100% of the time, this little word reminds me that it’s okay.
Pictured above: Taking a visiting American friend into the Borneo interior (left); Finding smiles among village kids in Borneo (right).
The circumstances we are in are okay. Life is okay. Five letters have never packed more positive, encouraging, and cooperative attitude. That’s a superior mind hack for a nation desperate for hacks. That’s the power of the greatest word on the planet.
Boleh is what I call Tiny Medicine for my patients. Let’s face it, big medicine has failed us miserably. The next time you feel the doubt meter rising, or anxiety and isolation creeping in, remember what my Bahasa-speaking brothers and sisters taught me 10,000 miles from home. We all need a daily attitude calibration. It’s like a vitamin. You can do it. Say it with me, “Boleh!”
Ah, what the hell…we’re going to make a limited third round of boleh hats and t-shirts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Covmerica needs it!