Have you ever read anything by Eckhart Tolle or UG Krishnamurti? My thoughts on thought are similar to theirs.
The placebo effect and nocebo effect are cool ways in which thoughts manifest as physical effects. Might I cite some important scientific literature on this? On an episode of House from a few seasons ago, Cuddy got sick because she thought she was sick. And she's the dean of medicine, so she even knew that such a thing exists.
But let me take this line of thinking one ludicrous step further. My theory is that our paleo ancestors ate differently than us, but THAT WAS THE MOST MINOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THEM. Well, not literally the most minor, but you'll see what I mean.
As any dummy knows, the brain is plastic/changeable. As even more dummies know, bodies not only evolve with time, but also change based on our parent's habits and our upbringings. Several years ago, I came up with a totally unsupported hypothesis. At some point, we had ancestors that were unimaginably different than us in thinking patterns--not at all conditioned and weighed down by internal mental struggles. Somewhere along the line, these people got selected against. Why?
You can map out the Prisoner's Dilemma on a minesweeper grid, having three classifications of people. 1) Nice people, 2) Mean people, 3) Adaptable people. At each point in time, the people move a block in a random direction, and experience the Prisoner's Dilemma with their neighbor. If you do this in a repetitive fashion, the nice people die off first. Then the mean people, and finally the adaptable people.
So here's what I'm trying to say. We compare ourselves and our thoughts/emotions/actions to those around us. Family, friends, celebrities, whatever. But there must have been people way back when who acted very differently than us, but either they did not survive or their traits are now very rare. Have you ever known someone who is totally selfless? Now adays, that is seen as a positive trait. But back in the day, they would have been murdered. I'm only slightly exaggerating.
In a similar vein, I tend to think that us modern people have been blessed (or cursed) with very self-involved minds. And self-involvement and need for accolades are traits that could have helped you survive back in the day. Power especially-- some people crave it. We want people to think we are great/smart/funny/whatever. Our minds convince our bodies of that, and make our bodies perform very strange actions at times. This might happen a lot more than it did in the past, because doing something to boost your ego won't usually kill you in modern life. In ancient life, feeding and housing yourself took up a bigger chunk of the life pie than feeding your needy ego.
Only when something very bad happens, or we take recreational drugs, or we are on our deathbeds, or we meditate or something, do
our perspectives shift enough to get out of the quicksand of our heavily-conditioned minds. You can kind of tell who is not so wrapped up in themselves. Ellen DeGeneres for example. Bobby McFerrin. Richard Feynman. The Dalai Lama. Kim Kardashian.
It's such a vague and shifty concept, that I feel like a tool for giving "my perspective" on it. But we all have perspectives, and we all have minds. Only some people have the special ability to attain a view outside of their own minds. Like Being John Malkovich, but less dramatic. And that being said, I didn't the answer the question at all, even after all that typing. Not one iota!