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Dr Daniel and Tana Amen chat about how too much of a good thing can lead to serious issues with misplaced satisfaction.
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.
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Welcome back. We are still in our happiness challenge, and we are going to answer questions in this episode.
And I have a review from BrentC6: “Thank you, truly great information. Thank you very much for sharing all of your information. Very inspirational and motivating to take better care of myself.” And then one from Drock127: “So happy to have found this podcast. There is so much good information from Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen in each episode. I need to listen more than once. Thank you.”
All right. So one of the questions we got was what is happiness?
So is it a feeling? Is it an action? Is it a habit? I actually think it’s all three.
It’s also [crosstalk [00:01:47] brain chemistry.
[crosstalk [00:01:47] It’s a positive feeling. And I’ve been thinking about this concept that pleasure is the enemy of happiness. Because with pleasure, it’ll release dopamine. A little bit of pleasure, holding hands, looking at you, being affectionate, that’s great. But if you’re always waiting, like with new love, I’m waiting for the wow or the cocaine moment. Well, that’ll never last. In fact, those moments wear out the pleasure centers of the brain. And I talk about dripping dopamine, don’t dump dopamine because when you jump out of a plane or write a best selling book, [crosstalk [00:02:44] pornography, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, you don’t have any dopamine left afterwards. And so you’ll always want to protect your pleasure centers. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have pleasure, but you want to be careful with it and really notice more the micro-moments of happiness.
Especially when you’re young.
Well, no matter what age I think it’s important.
But don’t you think our youth today is creating this, almost a culture of needing more, needing more and wearing out those pleasure centers younger and younger?
Well, I think all generations do it. But now, because of social media. We just interviewed Jeff Wittek, who’s a young YouTube star and he said they just had to keep pushing the videos they made. And he ended up on an excavator in a lake going around at 60 miles an hour and ended up slamming into the metal arm of the excavator and fractured seven bones in his skull. It was a mess and he had a significant brain injury that we’re working on repairing. All for the lie of more, that more will make me happy. And when they asked the richest people in the world, those people who had $5 million and up, what would make them twice as happy? And they said twice as much money.
Really? That surprises me.
And I guarantee you, that’s not going to make you twice as happy.
No. I’m actually surprised by that.
And whenever we decide to do something, I’m always thinking, is this going to make me happier? Or am I doing this because of what other people might think of me? And for me, [crosstalk [00:04:55] because of my brain type, I have the balanced brain type. I just love routine.
I do too. We both like routine
I love the walks. I love being with you.
Our kids make fun of us.
I like, [inaudible [00:05:10] I just, I love my life and jumping out of an airplane would, quite frankly, make me miserable. It’s like, why would you do that? When I was in the army and I had the opportunity to join the 101 airborne, I’m like, why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?
Okay. Now I can’t say I wouldn’t have done that. I would have done that. But at this stage in my life I like routine.
So, another question that someone wrote in is what are the enemies of happiness?
We just mentioned one, too much pleasure. Over stimulation and pleasure is one. What about head injuries?
The enemy of happiness. The NFL study I did showed NFL players had four times the level of depression as the general population. So, those of us that played football, loved football, but weren’t good enough, that’s a blessing. I remember because I was a backup quarterback in high school. I just remember being so grateful for that when I did my NFL work. Because if I was good enough, that means I would have been hit in the head so much more and likely wouldn’t be as happy now.
What about hormone imbalances?
Which is an epidemic, did you see that study recently of boys who were exposed to environmental toxins have less fertility and even smaller genital size? That’s horrifying. So toxic load can go with unhappiness. Being overweight. People say fat and happy. It’s like, no it’s fat and unhappy because the fat on your body stores toxins, increases inflammation…
Turns healthy testosterone, testosterone is involved in maintaining your happy, into unhealthy cancer-promoting forms of estrogen and lowers blood flow to your frontal lobes. I did a study with NFL players; same position, one person was overweight, one person was healthy weight. The overweight group, significantly lower blood flow in the front part of the brain.
So too much pleasure. Physical. Any of the bright minds risk factors that we talk about a lot. If you don’t sleep you’re more likely to be unhappy. I told you I had a nightmare last night. I rarely…
Oh if I’m short on like a half an hour of sleep, I’m…
And I was up like at four o’clock and I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. My brain was, short-circuiting not quite sure why. And on days I don’t sleep, I know I actually have to protect myself and not make big decisions. And if I’m irritated, not to say the first thing I think. I just become a little bit more watchful.
Do you remember this happened about a week ago? We had a pretty big decision to make and I woke up at [2:30] in the morning because that’s what happens to me, lists in my head and thinking and the mouse on the wheel.
And so the next day was one of those days where a topic came up and we almost got into an argument and we stopped and I went, you know what? We can not talk about this today cause I have not slept. And so that’s a really good tip. When you talk about the opposite or the enemies of happiness, you need to know when, having enough knowledge and enough discipline to know when not to talk about things, because lack of sleep will get you into big trouble, really fast. Because if I don’t sleep, you don’t have the discipline then, or the ability to even put the brakes on saying certain things.
And taking timeouts like you did, so helpful, if you know things aren’t going to go in the right direction. Now don’t Stonewall. Stonewall is where you refuse to talk about it, and that’s one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse according to John Gottman, a relationship psychologist, who’s just brilliant.
But saying “We can’t talk about this now, let’s talk about it tomorrow because I haven’t slept.” That’s important.
So insightful. Lack of sleep is an enemy of unhappiness. And if you’re with a person who worries, who sort of holds grudges, who tends to say no, take them on a long walk. And about 10 minutes into the walk, you can bring up what you’re concerned about. And they’re just more likely to be flexible with you. So an enemy of happiness is not knowing someone’s brain type and knowing what to do specifically for them.
Wow. We hope this has been helpful for you. We certainly get happy if we’re helpful, leave us a comment, question or review. That’s how you can make us happy. Share whatever you learned today, like the enemies of happiness. I think we should do a blog on that. We’ll see you next week. Stay with us.
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