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Dr Daniel and Tana Amen discuss how important it is to live your life with clearly defined values, purpose, and goals.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back. We’re so excited you’re with us. We’re talking about ways to increase your happiness and, ultimately, that’s what brain warriors do. I mean, they fight for happiness because they realize it’s a moral obligation that how happy or unhappy you are impacts everybody around you, and you have more to say.
So in our last episode, the end of last week, we were talking about relationships, and relationships can really impact your happiness. If they’re good, they really impact your happiness in a positive way, and if they’re not, they can impact your happiness in a negative way.
We were talking about our relationship. I mean, you really increase my happiness, your sort of the yin to my yang, if you will. You’re calming and grounding and you are very Pollyanna. You see what’s good in the world, and that’s good for me because I tend to see what’s not right in the world, and I love that.
But what we were talking about was noticing what we like more than what we don’t like, and I was talking about with you and Chloe how I do that. But one of the things that helps me… I was talking about winning the battle or the war. So sometimes you lose the battle, but you win the war because it’s like I step back and ask myself what is important. This relationship is more important to me than pretty much anything else. It’s more important to me than anything else that we could argue about. So if I remember that, then I stepped back and it’s not worth it. This is rarely is something worth me arguing and holding onto with you or with Chloe or anyone else in our family that I want to have a close relationship with.
You just always have to ask, and one thing I always ask myself is does this have eternal value? Is this ultimately going to have eternal value? Is this going to make things better eternally or even now in our family and our relationship. Is this going to make us happier and have more love?
That goes with question seven, live your life based on clearly defined values, purpose, and goals. The question is, does it fit? Does my behavior fit the values, purpose, and goals I have for my life? Ultimately, that leads to the question you just mentioned, does this have eternal value in the context of what I want?
I think the most successful people in life, successful in relationships, successful at work, successful with their money, successful with their physical, emotional, spiritual help is actually know what they want. So they define it. They write it down. Then you’re actually telling your brain what you want because if you can see it, your brain will help you make it happen.
But going back to the ACE score, if you have a lot of childhood trauma that activated your nervous system… And it’s really not about what you want, it’s about what you don’t want. Then your life is going to basically be on guard against bad things happening.
But that’s why that question helps me. Does it have eternal value? Because when I get really freaked out, having something bigger than me to focus on really helps me let it go. Does this have eternal value? Then I can step back and go, oh, wait a minute. Very little has eternal value if it’s something minor that I’m… in arguments or something that I’m focusing on right now that is not helpful. It rarely has eternal value and something bigger than myself helps me let it go. Does that make sense? Because we’re all going to die eventually, so what are you doing with your time here?
There are couples who bicker often. It’s about the little stuff-
The little stuff.
… And it becomes a bad habit. In the last episode we talked about negative thinking can be a bad habit. Well, how you interact with each other, is it a good habit? Does it serve and elevate your relationship or is it a bad habit that maybe you picked up from your parents or earlier relationships that you had, and whining, complaining, withholding turns into a pattern of behavior that creates distance. So what are you doing today that creates closeness versus what are you doing today that creates separation? I don’t want you to be judgmental. I want you to be curious because if you’re curious, then you just ask yourself, well, does it fit? Does it fit the goals you have, which is why I just think goals are foundational.
Almost every successful business has a detailed business plan. They know what they want, like at Amen Clinics and BrainMD. We have a one page strategic plan. What are our core values, and what are we going to do this quarter, the next 90 days, the next year, the next three to five years? But people don’t ever think about that for themselves and for their relationships, which I think is just… It’s foundational to success. When you went to the Tony Robbins Date with Destiny, I know that was part of what you guys did, right?
We had a life plan. There were a couple of things that really helped. I think having that life plan and understanding your values was really critical. That just changed so many things for me. The other thing that really helped me, especially with relationships… because we’re talking a lot about relationships and eternal value… As far as happiness goes, Byron Katie has the saying, “Defense is the first act of war,” and that’s the opposite of happiness. Defense is the first act of war. When I really understood that, it’s like, oh, that means when you’re defensive, you have to be right. You have to win. So, why? Why do you need to… Is it really worth it? When I really understood that, “Defense is the first act of war”… If you just drop the rope, does it matter… except it does matter in your happiness, right? I’m sorry are probably two of the most powerful words in the world… Just drop the rope.
I mean, sometimes it does matter. If something’s [crosstalk [00:07:56] you.
Big things, yes, if it has eternal value. Boundaries are important, but I’m talking about day-to-day menial things.
It’s like really pick your battle.
Right. The battle or the war.
Yeah, and brain type matters here, which is the first question in the happiness challenge is know your type. Had an interesting example of it this week. This is happening so often and breaking my heart that families are fighting over the vaccine. Someone we know, a youngster… She was sort of deciding to get it or not, and the family put a lot of pressure on her to do it and almost excluded her from events because she didn’t get it. I’m hearing this-
A lot. We’ve been hearing a lot. [crosstalk [00:08:54] and even in marriages.
… more and more. Actually my own family between my two girls-
And even in marriages.
… that one is really anxious about the virus, the other, not at all, and-
Well, and family members say I’ve never-
… they haven’t seen each other.
Right, you can’t see the rest of the family. We’ve been hearing a lot of this. You can’t come over. You can’t see us ever unless you get it, and it’s really hard.
The point I’m trying to make is I had her brain, and I know she’s a type three. She’s a persistent brain type. Her cingulate works too hard, and so never tell type threes what to do because if you tell them what to do, they won’t do it. It’s like they sort of wear Teflon, and if you tell them what to do, they will do the opposite. You know people like this. So you have to know about the brain type of the people you’re dealing with… brainhealthassessment.com will help you know.
I introduced her to a word called sovereignty, which is basically you need decision-making over your life. So if someone would give you an option, you’re so much better than if someone tells you what to do. Now, you’re not like that, thank God. But I have been with people who are like that, and that was a painful lesson.
I don’t like being told what to do.
You don’t like to be told what to do, but your first word isn’t always no.
For people who are type three, it’s like no matter what you say to them, their first response is no. My dad was like that. No matter what, the answer to any question was no. If you’re with someone like that, it’s very important to just go, we could do this or we could do that. What would you like to do, and give them choices. You’ve often heard me say you do a hit and run, which is you plant a seed, and then you let it go. Plant a seed, and then you let it go.
So effective for parenting teens, oh my gosh.
Well, and Chloe is [crosstalk [00:11:23] someone who needs sovereignty, right? If you-
Try and tell her what to do-
… surprise her, it’s like-
I would never throw her a surprise party, ever. Ever. So really important to know those things because it’s easy to look at them and say they’re ungrateful. It’s easy to look at people like that and say they’re stubborn or ungrateful and label them. But if you really understand how their brain works, you can also go, okay, I know that surprises make them anxious is what it really is.
Well, and on the surface, they appear selfish, but they’re really not selfish. They’re rigid. Their thinking is rigid. So if you have an autistic child, you know exactly what I’m talking about or somebody who has OCD or OCD-like tendencies.
Anyways, a lot of nerve science for starting out the week, but we hope this is helpful to you. When we come back, we’re going to talk more about eternal value and relationships. Stay with us.
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