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Technology has fundamentally changed our society in a way that makes things easier and more attainable, but with the good comes the bad. In this episode, the Amens are joined by ‘Limitless’ author Jim Kwik, who discusses how to be aware and vigilant of the negative effects of technology so you can defeat the 4 “digital supervillains” that try to steal your powers.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 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: 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome everybody to a very special week of the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. We are here with our friend, Jim Kwik. He has a new book called Limitless. Jim is widely recognized as a world expert in memory improvement, brain optimization, which is why he and I have been friends for years, and accelerated learning. After childhood brain injury left him learning challenged, Jim created strategies to dramatically enhance his mental performance. He's the host of the top education training podcast, Kwik Brain, and an instant New York Times bestselling author of Limitless: Upgrade your brain, learn anything faster, unlock your exceptional life. So before we get started, if you learned faster, if you could remember things better, how would your life be different? I want you to think about that now. Jim. Welcome, my friend. In the middle of a pandemic, thank you for taking your time with us.
Tana Amen: So great to see you.
Jim Kwik: It's so wonderful [crosstalk 00:02:03] and also thank you [inaudible 00:02:06]. It's great to be back on your show and I love you both so much. You've been on not only my podcast, you've been on my stages and I love you both so much. Thank you for the great work you do. And thank you everyone who's joining us.
Tana Amen: Oh, we miss you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So talk to us about Limitless and why you wrote it. And then you have a concept that actually goes, I think, close to the end of mental illness, which is the evil ruler. As that if I was an evil ruler and I wanted to create mental illness around the around the world, what would I do? And so I think the villains may actually have a similar mission.
Tana Amen: The [inaudible 00:02:50] of this book are fantastic for, especially for right now. They're just so poignant for the time. So I really like it.
Jim Kwik: Yeah. And I really appreciate that. This is after 28 years of teaching this, this is my very first book. And it was interesting because our publisher asked us if we wanted to move the publication date and I was like, "Wow. No." This book is more than just speed reading and remembering names and learning languages and how to study and stuff. It's really about managing your mind in times of crisis. It's about getting back to your productivity and your flow while you're working from home, it's about supporting your children if they're not in school, teaching them how to learn. It's about learning new skills and strategies, subjects. If your work is being disrupted or you lost your job and you have to retool. And so we're really excited about this book. And also we're donating a hundred percent of the proceeds to charity schools for children in need, who don't have access to education, healthcare, or clean water.
Tana Amen: Oh that's fantastic.
Jim Kwik: Thank you. Thank you. So the title Limitless is not about being perfect but it's about progressing beyond what you currently believe is possible. And this book in the beginning, was all about methodology. It was all about how to do those things, the speed reading and the memory that we've discussed in the past podcast episodes with you. But it's that I asked myself before I submitted the book to my publisher. I literally, before I hit send, I said, "Well, a hundred percent of the people who read this book cover to cover, will they get the results they're hoping for?" And my honest answer was no. And that was a little disturbing for me as a creator, as a teacher. And it made me reevaluate what keeps people from doing what they do. A lot of people know what to do but they don't do what they know.
And I know in a conversation we're going to have is about motivation, human motivation in terms of why do people know that they should prioritize their sleep? Why they should eat these good brain foods. Why they know they should meditate and manage stress but they don't always do it and follow through. So I know we're going to talk about that in one of these episodes but the reason why I feel like this is such a necessary book right now, as you mentioned, is because of technology. And I'm pro-technology. It allows us to communicate as we are right now. It's amazing. And technology is not necessarily good or bad. It's just how it's used.
Tana Amen: Right.
Jim Kwik: Like fire's technology. And fire could heat your home or it could burn down your home. It could cook your food or it could do some devastation also, as well.
And I feel like now, and I know the two of you are hyper aware of it, it's just the effect technology could have on the human brain and and the force super villains like why now is because technology, maybe it doesn't cause, but it certainly amplifies some of the challenges that we're dealing with right now that hold us back. And so in the book, I talk about superpowers a lot because when people see me on stages, I do these feats where I'll memorize a hundred people's names or a hundred words or numbers, forwards and backwards that an audience gives me. But I always tell people, "I don't do this to impress you. I do this to really express to you what's possible." Because the truth is we could do that and a lot more, regardless of our age, or background, our career, or education level, or financial situation, our gender, our history, IQ, it's just we weren't taught.
If anything, I feel like we were taught a lie that somehow our capabilities, our memory, or our potential is somehow fixed, like our shoe size or something like that. And so in the book, I demystify these lies and I call these lies. Everything's an acronym that make it memorable but a lie stands for ,for me, a limited idea entertained. A limited idea entertained. [crosstalk 00:06:28] true that intelligence is fixed or that you have a horrible memory or such but it's the idea we get energy too and we accepted as truth. And so going back to this, like why now, is I believe a technology, as it says, imposed a level of distraction, a level of overwhelm and overload, a level of memory loss, even. So the four super villains I want people to be aware of because it helps to be aware of it because how do you change something unless you know it's affecting you?
And for me, the reason why I talk about superheroes all the time is because of my brain injury that you mentioned when I was five years old, I had trouble learning, processing, very slow process. Teachers would repeat themselves over and over again. It took me an extra three years to learn how to read. And it was challenging. And I taught myself how to read by reading comic books. And that's why I have this love and affinity and connection for superheroes. When I was nine years old, I was slowing the whole class down and I just didn't understand the lessons and I was being teased by other students. And I remember a teacher pointing to me and said, "That's the boy with the broken brain." And I don't think the intent was malicious.
I think she was trying to protect me and just explain to other kids that I was different. But all I remembered was broken brain. And that became my label. And that label became my limit, what we're talking about becoming limitless. So having overcome these challenges at around age 18, I could help it help other people. And that's put me on this path. Now though, we're faced... I mean, this was 28 plus years ago. Now with technology, we're faced with different level of intensity of overwhelm and distraction more than ever. And so the force super villains that you asked me about, they're like the horsemen of the apocalypse. I don't know if it's a mental apocalypse or what, but just as a visual for people. The first one is [inaudible 00:08:25] and then I'm going to alliterate everything just to make a memorable as I always do, is digital delusions. Digital delusions is this information anxiety, information overload, information fatigue syndrome, too much information, too little time.
With technology the amount of information is doubling at dizzying speeds but how we learn it, read it, remember it. It's pretty much constant. And that growing gap creates a lot of stress and how does it show up in our life? Higher blood pressure, and compression of leisure time, troublesome sleeplessness, and it just gets more and more. And that's why in the book we teach you strategies, five mental superpowers to overcome the five mental super villains. So to overcome digital delusions, we have speed reading. Not skimming or scanning or skipping words but really reading for comprehension. But you do it more efficiently to keep up, catch up, and get ahead. And also effective study methods, the kind of methods I've taught at UCLA at Caltech, at Harvard University. Because we were not really taught how to study. Like school teaches you what to learn and what to study but they're not a lot of classes on how to learn and how to study that material.
Tana Amen: So true.
Jim Kwik: And so that's why we have dedicated chapters on those two areas superpowers. The second super villain besides digital delusions is digital distraction. In a world of rings, pings, dings, social media alerts, app notifications, how do you maintain your focus and concentration in a world full of those shiny objects? And so that's why we do a whole chapter on the power of focus and concentration. The third super villain besides digital delusions and digital distractions is digital dementia. Where we're outsourcing-
Tana Amen: I love that.
Jim Kwik: We're outsourcing our memory to our external memory device-
Tana Amen: We're not learning.
Jim Kwik: Right. And we don't have to retain anything nowadays. It keeps our calendars. It keeps our to do's. It keeps phone numbers. I mean thinking-
Tana Amen: The fact that we don't know people's phone numbers that are so close to us is a perfect example of what you're saying.
Jim Kwik: No, exactly. This digital dementia, it's just the high reliance on technology. And think about how many phone numbers we used to know.
Tana Amen: Right. Exactly.
Jim Kwik: Of them. But I'm sure there's someone you call or text every single day but if you didn't have your phone... And people would argue that, "Oh, why do I need to remember that? I don't want to memorize 200 phone numbers." And honestly, neither do I. And I get that question when I speak at Facebook or Google and they created a search engine for that, like, "Why do I need to remember all this?" And I just equate it to a lot of the physical metaphor that if you relied on Lyft to take you five blocks and not walk it, if you just relied on an elevator instead of taking the stairs. Like if I put my arm in a sling for six months, it won't be stronger.
Tana Amen: It's like working a muscle.
Jim Kwik: Exactly. It wouldn't stay the same. It would atrophy. And I feel like our high dependence on, is not that I want to memorize 200 phone numbers, but it should be concerning that we've lost the ability to remember one or a conversation we just had or something we were going to say or a [inaudible 00:11:26]. I believe two of the most costly words in life sometimes, or especially in business, are I forgot. I forgot to do it. I forgot to bring it. I forgot the meeting. I forgot what I was going to say. I forgot the conversation. I forgot that person's name. It just goes on and on. So digital dementia is that high dependence and reliance on external memory devices. And because I want to be [inaudible 00:11:45] that memory fit.
And then the fourth super villain besides digital delusion, digital distraction, and digital dementia, I just call it a term just to make it fit, honestly. Digital deduction. And digital deduction is interesting because working with the amount of children that I work with and especially now with everything that's going on online is that children don't have to learn how to think anymore because they have technology. It does the thinking for you and digital deduction is basically saying just similar to a digital dementia where you're relying it as an external memory device.
Digital deduction is you're relying it on to do the thinking for you, meaning it tells you what to think and you don't have to use the... So children right now, they don't have the analytical ability of previous generations. They can't deduce. They can't reason. They were having trouble, even now applying logic or critical thinking. Besides the fact that these aren't classes taught at school. Like on how to solve problems, how to make a good decision, as to how to be more creative. So just as we have a chapter on focus, on memory, on speed reading and study, we have a whole chapter on critical thinking skills.
Tana Amen: I love that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So when we come back, let's actually talk about the superpowers that corral these villains. We have so much to talk about. I'm so excited to have you on The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. And for those of you listening, if you can get rid of these villains, how would your life be different? Post it on any of your social media channels and tag The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. But also tag Limitless, which is available online, where you can get the moment. But in bookstores, hopefully as soon as they open. Stay with us.
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