The 5 Things To Focus On While In A Quarantine Cocoon, with Jim Kwik

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

An interesting side effect of the coronavirus quarantine is that people are ‘cocooning’, preparing themselves to come out stronger, smarter, and better when this is all over. How can you maximize this process? In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are again joined by Jim Kwik, who gives you the 5 main things to focus on while transforming into a brand new you.

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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
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Welcome back. We are still here with our friend, our very good friend, Jim Kwik. And he's created programs for accelerated learning, and they're just fantastic. But I really love your new book, Jim, Limitless. And what I love, because I'm actually putting out a book right now, too, and they asked the same thing, "Should we change the publication date when we're going to release it?" And I think your book is perfect for this time. So I love that you've taken all of your strategies that you've used over the years to teach people about memory and learning, but you've actually turned it into a way to overcome these challenges and barriers and limits that people have during this crisis.
Jim Kwik: Yes.
Tana Amen: So I'm just super excited about that. And I was just resonating with you as you were talking in the last episode. So I'm hoping we get time in another episode to talk about some of those things.
Jim Kwik: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you both. So [inaudible 00:01:39] go through some of these things. Limitless, its subtitle is Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life. And it's not about being perfect. It's about progressing and advancing beyond what we believe is possible. And how can you become limitless in a limited world, right? And that's really what the focus is of this book. Not only does it teach speed reading and memory enhancement and focused, concentration skills. But really, we're talking about a framework for doing what you believe is not possible.
And so right now, a lot of people feel very limited because of what's going on in the world. And the metaphor I'm using is that of a butterfly. It feels like we're going through a metamorphosis right now where even people feel like they're cocooning. They are physically distancing themselves. They're a caterpillar inside of a cocoon. And so what I would love to do is give people five things that they could be doing while they're cocooning so we could come out of this stronger or wiser or be able to soar and make the best, at least, of the time that we're doing this.
And so here are the five things. Now, in the book, Limitless, I have a quote from a French philosopher that says, "Life is the C between B and D." "Life is C between B and D." And people are thinking I'm speaking in code or tongues. B stands for birth and D stands for death. C, life, stands for choice. And I really do believe our life is the sum total of all the choices we've made up to this point, big or small. Right? Where are we going to live? Who are we going to spend time with? What are we going to eat? What are we going to feed our minds? The choices that we make every single day. And so I want to give people five choices that they can make right now that would be more fitting so that they're smarter and wiser in this process.
Now, when I use the metaphor of a butterfly, it's interesting, because it has a caterpillar. When a caterpillar believes it's the end of the world, it turns into that butterfly, right? And while the beauty is in the butterfly, the growth happens in the cocoon. And so here are five things, choices that people can make while they are in this cocoon. And I'll make them five Cs so they're very easy to remember. The first choice we can make while we're cocooning ... Because when we're all cocooning, we're alone, right? We're alone with our thoughts. We're alone with our doubts. We're alone with our fears. We might even be feeling alone. And we know what loneliness does to the human psyche. And so here are five things to be able to make progress.
Number one, I would say clarity. Clarity. Meaning that sometimes when we're just going ... Before this, we're just going 100 million miles an hour and very rarely do we take a pause to just connect, saying, "Are we going in the right direction?" Where I am right now in this cycle ... Because that's what we're going through, a change of cycles, right? And some people's stress is clinging on to the cycle that was rather than what is currently going on.
And so in terms of clarity, how you get clarity is using questions. And I believe questions are the answer. So a simple question to give you clarity on your life is something like, "What's most important to me right now? What's most important to me in my life? What's most important to me in my career? What's most important to me in school? What's most important in my relationship? What's most important at work, and my impact?" That gives you clarity of values. Because again, you could be very efficient at climbing the wall of success on that ladder, but if you get to the top and it's leaning on the wrong wall ... You want to get clarity sooner, right? And so that's the point. So ask yourself, "What's most important to me in life?"
The second clarifying question I would invite everyone to ask is, "Are my actions aligned with those values? Are my actions truly aligned with those values?" Otherwise, if they're not, a lot of people say that they're burnt out and they think it's because they're doing too much. And granted, many people are. But maybe you're not burnt out because you're doing too much. Maybe it's because you're doing too little of the things you value, the things that make you come alive. So the second question is, "Are my actions aligned with those values?" And if they're not, then you wonder why you procrastinate or you wonder why you sabotage. You take one step forward and two steps back because you're not doing the things that give you purpose and fulfillment. So that's number one is clarity.
The second thing we could choose to do while we are cocooning is care. And that's kind of obvious. And your listeners know how to do this. They've probably forgotten more about self care for your brain and the rest of your body than most people will ever learn, right? And I just wanted to emphasize it's not just about physical hygiene. We know six feet separation. We know sanitize everything, wash your hands. But mental hygiene. And what I would encourage just a reminder, and sometimes people know this, but it takes a coach to say it again and again, is just remember that what you're feeding your mind ... Right? We know that chronic stress shrinks your brain. We know chronic fear actually compromises your immune system, right? That area of psychoneuroimmunology which makes us more susceptible to colds, to flus, to viruses.
And so one of the reasons why we're so fearful is we're just glued to those screens all the time and what it's feeding us. And here's the thing that people just really need to get. Just like Instagram or Facebook has an algorithm, meaning if you're going through Instagram and you just happen to engage with all the cat posts, you watch all the cat videos, you like and you comment and share all the cat posts, then Instagram's going to show you a whole lot more cats because it has an algorithm, right? It's going to start feeding you. And you feel like that's the whole world.
Well, if you started looking at everything that's scary on the news and dark and threatening, which your brain gets hijacked, right? It has to look at what's threatening, and what bleeds leads, right? But if you start doing that, you engage in that material, then your mind has that same algorithm like social media and it's going to start feeding you more of that and you're going to feel like that's all of your reality. And the challenge is we have limited bandwidth, conscious bandwidth, and if your focus is on that, then your focus isn't on possibility. Your focus is not on gratitude. Your focus is not on opportunities that could present itself. And so I would say part of care is doing everything the two of you teach, having a good brain diet, prioritizing sleep, stress management [crosstalk 00:07:52]-
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love the sounds of the [crosstalk 00:07:53]. I wrote it down.
Tana Amen: Me too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There's a term I like. I've been on the radio in London every Thursday night answering questions from callers on LBC Radio. And this caller said, "We have a global amygdala hijacking." And when you really understand that, I know you understand that, but the amygdala is part of the brain that responds to fear. And now it's been hijacked because initially you had to watch the news-
Tana Amen: You had to, right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... to find out what's going on. And it scares you to no end. And even though most people are safe and most people are doing what they're supposed to be doing to stay safe, it just seems like the whole world-
Tana Amen: Yeah. I had to stop watching the news. I could not hear the death tolls anymore. I can't. So I go outside in my backyard and watch the hummingbirds instead. [inaudible 00:08:48]-
Jim Kwik: Exactly.
Tana Amen: ... happy. That makes me freak out.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You're managing this global amygdala hijacking and not giving in to the algorithm that so much of the news wants us to have. They're part of the-
Jim Kwik: I mean, it's a business. The media is a business and we are their products that they're selling to advertisers and everything. So it's very specifically designed. I'm just saying have mindfulness and people have choice and they could ask themselves this question.
Tana Amen: And you have to be responsible for what you put in your brain and understand it and be ... As a nurse, we talk about being an advocate. You have to be your own advocate of what goes-
Jim Kwik: Yeah. Very much so.
Tana Amen: ... in your brain. So-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now, we only have a couple of minutes left in-
Jim Kwik: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... this one.
Jim Kwik: Yeah. The book-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So-
Jim Kwik: We could wrap up with this. It's just the last three very quickly, besides the first C was clarity, second is care, third is contribution. One of the antidotes to fear is service. And so my question for everyone listening is, "How can you take your time, your talent, your treasure, to make a difference?"
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Jim Kwik: For me, we're donating 100% of the proceeds of this book. On our Instagram, we're doing programs for students for free. But how can everyone contribute? And it could be as simple as calling a neighbor to see if they're vulnerable, or making food for frontline workers. That's contribution.
Fourth C, very quickly, is creativity. It was during the great plague that William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, wrote Antony and Cleopatra. It was when they shut down London and the university where Isaac Newton had to physically distance himself, and that's when the apple fell on his head in his yard and he came up with the theories of motion and the theory of gravity. So what can we create? Because the future belongs to the creatives. Maybe it's a blog. Maybe it's a business. Maybe it's writing, it's music. How can you be creative?
And then finally, the fifth C I would recommend is capability. Meaning you have your to-learn list, I mean, excuse me, you have your to-do list, but what's on your to-learn list? What have you always wanted to learn? And right now, we have unfettered access to the world's information. YouTube, podcasts like this. You can learn salsa. You could learn Spanish. You can learn speed reading. And I think if there's one skill to master right now, a capability, is learning how to learn. Because if there was a genie who could grant you any one wish, you would ask for limitless wishes. But if I was your learning genie and I could grant you any one learning wish, any one subject, one skill, what's the equivalent of asking for limitless wishes? Learning how to learn. Because if you could learn how to learn, you could grant all of your own wishes. You could apply that towards money, mind, management, marketing, Mandarin, music. Everything in your life gets easier. And that's what I teach in the book.
Tana Amen: I love that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So great. To learn more about Jim Kwik, you can go to We're just so grateful to have you on. When we come back, we're going to dive into this more. Stay with us.
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