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Americans Are The Unhappiest They’ve Ever Been. Here’s Why

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Research has shown Americans are the least happy they have been in decades. Dr Daniel and Tana Amen are starting a happiness challenge to help out, and ask you to join them on the adventure.


Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Daniel Amen, MD:
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Hey Brain Warrior community. We are so happy, happy, happy, [crosstalk [00:00:56] that you are with us. If you go to 30dayhappinesschallenge.com, we’ll put a link for you 30dayhappinesschallenge.com, you can join Tana and I for a month. Now it starts May 15th, but for those of you that have ADD in are coming to it late, we’re going to still keep it up. But every day, Tana and I are going to release a new video anywhere from four minutes to 15 minutes long, and we’ll have a happiness exercise for you. Americans are the most unhappy that they have been in over five decades, and we aim to do something about it. This is a perfect Brain Warrior community service project, it’s free. What we want is we just want happier people in our lives because happiness is contagious. So we’re going to talk about the challenge, but before we do, do you want to read some-
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
I have a testimonial from [Sarah Taps [00:02:17] from Canada.
Brilliant. Found this podcast through a YouTube video only to realize Dr. Amen’s book, Change Your Brain Change Your Life literally changed my life about ten years ago. You guys are rock stars.
Daniel Amen, MD:
I love that. Although, most rock stars are messed up, so I’ll try not to go there.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Yeah, so let’s modify that a little.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So you just got off a lecture.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
I did. It was so fun. It was for Laura’s House. They deal with abused women and children, and it was very purposeful.
Daniel Amen, MD:
And how did it go over talking about your journey and the brain?
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
It was great. They actually…so she loved my book The Relentless Courage of the Scared Child, ’cause it fits right in with their mission. I talked a lot about our Four Circle Treatment, biological what’s going on with your brain and body psychological, are you disciplining your thoughts? Are you getting therapy like EMDR specific to trauma? What are your social connections like and what is your purpose and meaning in life? And then I talked about my own journey and it was really good. And we talked about, well, I didn’t there was another presenter doing the ACE scores, but I’m fascinated by ACE scores which is adverse childhood experiences and how they effect your physical functioning in your life, how they effect your physical health. And I’ve been fascinated by that for a while. So you are more at risk for seven of the ten most common causes of death if you have a score of four on the quiz, for ACE, the ACE quiz. My score was an eight. My nieces are a nine and you are a one.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So apparently I’m gonna live a long time.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Yeah, but living- the interactions between a one and an eight are really interesting. But now you understand me.
Daniel Amen, MD:
Well, I think that then, so that’s nine. So together we’re 4.5. You just took years off my life.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Right I didn’t, I didn’t like my score. So I tried to cut it in half and it doesn’t matter anything above a four, you’re sort of, you’re messed up, but explain-
Daniel Amen, MD:
James put the link to the ACE test for the podcast for people to take. It’s so interesting. And so your brain [crosstalk [00:04:43] was actually trained dto be unhappy because of the chronic stress you experienced, your brain was trained to look for trouble.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
But structurally it changes your brain and that’s what’s mind-boggling.
Daniel Amen, MD:
But, what the exciting thing that we can tell you is you can train your brain to look for what’s right, [crosstalk [00:05:19] rather than what’s wrong. And that’s what The Happiness Challenge is all about. It’s literally to train your brain.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
So when you grow up in early emotional trauma as a child, it structurally changes how your brain functions. And so it’s, it’s really interesting, but what I love is that with our work, we, I love your expression, you can make your brain better and I can prove it. You are not stuck with the brain you have. And that’s what I love. That’s the exciting part is that when you really understand how early childhood trauma changes, things like your amygdala, your hippocampus, your frontal lobes, it’s really interesting [crosstalk [00:06:00]. But, you can fix it, because we get stuck in fight or flight all the time even when there’s no threat. Like I hear ice cubes melting in the sink and I jump. And I’m… because you’re always looking for a threat. But you can fix it. And that’s exciting.
Daniel Amen, MD:
And that’s what we’re going to do in this 30 day town. So you talked about the four circles that all Brain Warriors know, there’s a biological part to you, a psychological, a social and a spiritual. Well, the happiness challenge is based on seven secrets, seven happiness secrets nobody’s talking about, except we should. And seven simple questions and actually secrets one, two, three, and four are biological. I mean, we’re a brain health group. We’re Brain Warriors. Five is psychological, six is social, and seven is spiritual. And so what you’ll learn in this Happiness Challenge is you’ll learn one of the big secrets is happiness is not the same for everyone, right?
So I just listened to a great Ted Talk today by Shawn Achor. And he talked about how they increased happiness. And it was things like, notice what you like, gratitude, write down three things you’re grateful for, three new things you’re grateful for everyday for 21 days, and look for what’s right rather than what’s wrong. And that’s all awesome. Except it doesn’t work for every brain type that some people, it works for the balanced people, but for the spontaneous people they’re actually happier when they’re causing trouble, when they’re stirring it up. For the persistent people, they liked saying this, they like just knowing there’s predictability. And they sort of like arguing with you like their first response is no.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And then you’ve got people who are combination like me.
Daniel Amen, MD:
And then there’s sensitive people who are deeply feeling and empathic, but can be negative. And they’re anxious people. We call them cautious. And yes, there are lots of combinations. And so we’ll have people go to the brain health assessment, know their brain type and how to help it. And so the question is, am I doing something today that makes me uniquely happy based on my brain. The second one is actually the foundation of happiness. It’s the physical functioning of your brain. And none of the happiness gurus talk about that, right? I do the study on 500 patients at Amen Clinics using the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, did you ever take that?
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
No.
Daniel Amen, MD:
I should give that to you. And I bet you from the time I met you until now [crosstalk [00:09:14] has gone way up, [crosstalk [00:09:15] but it’s 29 questions and it’s score one to six. I’m a 5.4. So I’m pretty happy. And we compared to people with low happiness versus high happiness and low happiness had low frontal lobe function. Do not let your children hit soccer balls with your head. And so we talk about our bright minds approach that we’ve talked a lot about here on The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. And three is, am I nourishing my brain every day? I mean, that’s really the secret. The choice is to nourish your brain every day. It’s why we talk about supplements, like happy saffron, and omega three fatty acids, and smart mushrooms and all the different ways to nourish your brain. And then four, all of this is biological, is am I choosing foods that elevate happiness, or am I choosing foods that diminish happiness.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Well and people don’t realize how much food actually does effect mood and decision-making, and people always want to fight that, that reality, but it effects your mood and your decision-making.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So I have a brand new chapter, I don’t know that I told you this, there’s a new book out an academic book by Academic Press on depression. And it’s like the 600 page book. And I have a chapter on how brain SPECT imaging informs diagnosis and treatment of depression. But there’s also, there’s a lot of chapters in the book on food and on the microbiome. [crosstalk [00:11:03] And there was one specifically on the glycemic index and people who eat foods that are high in the glycemic index. That means foods that quickly turn to sugar, had a higher incidence of depression. And that actually a treatment for depression is to go on a low-glycemic diet.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
Well, and there are so many reasons because the high-glycemic aspect effects your mood and your decision-making as well as messing up your gut because your gut brain connection. And there’s lots of other reasons too. But those two big things, because when your gut’s not healthy, you are much more likely to have depression and anxiety. So, there’s many reasons and people fight it still and it’s like, okay, do you not want to feel better? I’m confused.
Daniel Amen, MD:
So go to 30 Day Happiness Challenge, sign up, it’s free. And we want our Brain Warrior community to be the leaders in this happiness challenge. And you’ll be able to ask questions and leave comments. And we’re going to measure your happiness as you start the challenge. And then we’re going to measure your happiness in 30 days. And then for those who stick with us for 30 days, when I’m [inaudible [00:12:24] to a drawing to win all sorts of cool things. So stay with us in the next podcast. We’re going to talk about secrets five, six, seven, stay with us.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Daniel Amen, MD:
If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.