Studies have shown that where we bring our attention has a huge impact on how we feel, so it should come as no surprise that people who focus on the positive aspects of their lives tend to be happier people. But of course, it isn’t easy. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen teach you some simple tiny habits you can use to train your brain to gravitate towards positive thoughts to feel happier.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment, and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit brainmdhealth.com
Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Welcome back, we are still in our Feel Better Fast series. This is the last podcast on rational mind. As we get started, I want to just read one more review, 'cause that's one of my favorite things to do, so please keep them coming.
So this one's from LCocoa1: "This podcast is informative, inspiring, motivating, and essential to everything that has to do with your physical, mental, and spiritual life. A well-rounded podcast from the experts themselves. You can't go wrong. Just received my Healing ADD book and excited to read it. My family has a history of cancer, diabetes, substance abuse, heart disease, obesity, including a brother diagnosed with schizophrenia." Sounds a lot like my family.
"It's been a relief to be able to have a place where I can make sense of it all and try my best to help my family. Being born and raised in Hawaii, and being Hawaiian myself, and having to deal with these challenges has been very difficult for me. I actually find a lot of solace in this podcast, knowing that I am in control of my own destiny. Mahalo Nu." Thank you so much.
Dr Daniel Amen: I lived in Hawaii for two years. I love Hawaii.
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's one of the few places I think I could move.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, we're going to finish up Rational Mind, and we're going to do it with tiny habits. One of the unique things about Feel Better Fast is there are over 50 tiny habits.
What are the smallest things you can do today that will make the biggest difference? Once you do them, you have to actually celebrate, 'cause the celebration produces a little bit of dopamine that makes you feel happy. We talked about whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down what you're thinking.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: And then take them through the questions, is it true, can I absolutely know it's true, how do I feel when I believe the thought, who would I be without the thought, and then turn the original thought that tortures you around to the opposite.
That's my favorite part, 'cause the opposite of the thought that's torturing me, Tana never listens to me. The opposite, Tana does listen to me, is true. So I'm actually torturing myself with a lie, and if I believe the lie, she never listens to me, I now give myself permission to be rude to her, which means she's not going to listen to me, she's going to be furious with me.
So it's often our negative thoughts that drive our negative behavior, that changes the behavior of our partner in a negative way. So I want you thinking accurately, honestly, I don't want you lying to yourself, either in a good way or a bad way.
Tana Amen: And I want to add to the thing about the celebration. We do this, so as a family, even the smallest things it's really fun. So when something good happens for one of us, it could be something that most people might not even really pay attention to, which is a mistake I think. I mean it's not for me to judge you on that, but it's a really good thing as a family, 'cause it helps you bond as a family.
So when something good happens to one of us, we celebrate. But we don't go celebrate by getting drunk. We don't go celebrate by smoking pot, or going and eating a massive chocolate cake. We don't celebrate that way.
We go out, we have a healthy dinner together, but for us it's more about the community. We go for a walk. We laugh and talk about it together. We just try to connect. For us, celebrating is about connecting and just really thinking about the good thing that happened, and paying attention to it, and acknowledging it. It's just our way of bonding and paying attention.
Dr Daniel Amen: So some other tiny habits that I talk about in the book is start every day with, today is going to be a great day. Now, why would you want to do that? Because your unconscious mind will then find why it's going to be a great day.
Do you know that most people actually wake up with negativity? Because when you first wake up, your brain is sleepy. It actually has less blood flow when you first wake up in the morning. So people will often wake up, sometimes in the middle of the night, like you said before, and they'll just start worrying about all the bad things-
Tana Amen: I wake up with you petting me, like a dog.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, 'cause I love you.
Tana Amen: I feel like Aslan, our dog.
Dr Daniel Amen: And so if you go, "Today is going to be a great day." Then you'll cuddle me back, which makes me super happy. But on the ... So I have a to-do list, and it's 11 pages long of stuff I'm doing, but right at the top of my to-do list is, today is going to be a great day, because if I do that, then my mind will find why it is going to be a great day.
Tana Amen: You just have to come up with a line, or something that you say, or some line of gratitude that you wake up to that becomes a habit.
Dr Daniel Amen: No, I want them to do this one.
Tana Amen: Okay.
Dr Daniel Amen: I want them to do this one, 'cause it's purposeful-
Tana Amen: Today is going to be a great day.
Dr Daniel Amen: And my patients who do this, they notice, it makes a significant, positive difference for them. The book end to today is going to be a great day, is at the end of the day, and often it's great to do this at dinner with the family, is what went well today?
Tana Amen: Notice it.
Dr Daniel Amen: And if you talk about today is going to be a great day at breakfast, and what went well today, at dinner, you're beginning to actually flood your family with positive psychology techniques.
Tana Amen: Yeah. And that's part of our celebration is like, oh something cool happens. Okay, so my daughter gets accepted into Mayor's Youth Council, or whatever it is, something that happened. And we'll sit and we celebrate, and it's like, "Well what do you think made the difference?" We'll notice the good things. Does that make sense? And so it's just a positive, it's a good thing to do.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right, and you want to hear about the hard things that happened that day.
Tana Amen: Always.
Dr Daniel Amen: But you want to also balance them with what went well today. Along that lines, try to get into the habit of writing down three things you're grateful for every day. Research has shown that that increases happiness, self-esteem, self-control, longevity, and improves your relationships.
When Tana and I focus on the gratitude we have for each other, our relationship is so much better than if we nit-pick each other on the things that we don't like. Where you bring your attention determines how you feel.
Tana Amen: And the truth is, is there's so many more things to be grateful for if you just actually are present and think about it. There are so many more things to be grateful for. You know, even if they're small, just focus on those small things.
Dr Daniel Amen: And I torture my family with the movie Pollyanna.
Tana Amen: Oh my gosh, okay I'm not sure that's one of the things to be grateful for. But I mean it started out being one of the things. But now I think I'm past it.
Dr Daniel Amen: Now, this is worth thousands of dollars in therapy. So whenever-
Tana Amen: It's just I've seen it so many times.
Dr Daniel Amen: Whenever one of my grandchildren becomes-
Tana Amen: But we have a lot of grandchildren, and a lot of nieces and a lot of nephews. You don't understand, it's just.
Dr Daniel Amen: No, I'm not kidding. I want you to watch the Disney movie Pollyanna. And it horrifies me, it just shows how old I am. 'Cause I first watched it when I was six years old. It came out in 1960. I just loved it, and yes I loved Haley Mills, she's so cute. But there's a very important psychological principle that she teaches people in the movie. So Pollyanna was a missionary's kid.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And her parents died, and she had to go live with her aunt Polly, whose played by Jane Wyman.
Tana Amen: Who was not a happy person.
Dr Daniel Amen: You understand why Ronald Reagan actually divorced Jane Wyman because she's so clearly played the witch.
Tana Amen: Stop it.
Dr Daniel Amen: She's not a happy person. But Pollyanna just has this great attitude, and what she teaches people to play is a game that her dad taught her. So when Pollyanna was a missionary's kid, she wanted a doll. So her parents wrote to the missionary council and there was a mix up and they actually sent her a pair of crutches.
Pollyanna was crushed. She was really sad and her dad taught her to play the glad game. Whatever situation you're in, what is there to be glad about in this situation. Initially, Pollyanna said, "Nothing." And her dad said, "Come on, you're a smart kid. What is there to be glad about these crutches?" And she said, "Well at least I don't have to wear them." And the movie really centers around the glad game. She transforms-
Tana Amen: An entire town, yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: A community. Recently I was on a flight and the flight was delayed, and it messed up the trip, and I'm like, "So what is there to be glad about in having a delayed flight?" And I'm like, "Well they didn't take off with a damaged plane that would have caused my death. I can be glad about that."
Tana Amen: Right. I can be glad about that.
Dr Daniel Amen: You could be glad about that too. Whatever situation you're in, what is there to be glad about in this situation? I want you to start keeping a journal. Journaling is so important. When I did the research on Feel Better Fast, which is what are the effective short term kinds of psychotherapies that work, journaling was all over that, [crosstalk 00:11:17] write down-
Tana Amen: Now this is one of the things that helps our daughter Chloe.
Dr Daniel Amen: Write down, and I think every day it's good to just write your mood, your focus, your anxiety, your energy, and on a scale of one to 10, one is bad, 10 is good. That way, as you do these small, tiny habits, you'll notice that those numbers are being improved. So stay with us. We're going to talk about attachments next.
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