The True Meaning Of Victory, with Justin Wren

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

MMA fighter-turned author Justin Wren was at a crossroads in his life when he made the decision to venture into the Congo. The impact he made on the pygmy culture he found there would change their lives for the better, forever. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Justin discuss how purpose can transform your life, and how the concept of victory can exist on many different levels.

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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.
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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're here with Justin Wren, Fight for the Forgotten, my new friend. And I'm just so grateful you came to the clinic, and you're going to have a better brain.
Justin Wren: I know that.
Dr Daniel Amen: With a better brain, you're going to have a better life.
Justin Wren: I know that.
Dr Daniel Amen: But you have really focused on making other people's lives better. And we left off our story with you having this vision and then meeting this guy and taking you to the Congo.
Justin Wren: Yeah. And it's pretty wild because ... Yeah, I told Caleb and then another buddy that came with us named Collin, I told him the vision, and then we fly on numerous planes to get out there. Then we drive a crazy amount, and then we get out, and we get on a motorcycle. Then we get in a canoe and go across the river, and then we hike and hike, and then all of a sudden we hear ... We're on a little foot path, and just like in the vision, we hear drumming.
And then we get closer, and we hear singing. And then we get into a clearing, and we meet these people, and the first guy in the vision I saw had his ribs kind of poking out. This guy was coughing and coughing, and he was sick. We come to found out he has tuberculosis, but even to the ... We find out they're hungry, poor, sick, oppressed, all these things. And Caleb and Collin are grabbing me saying, "This is your vision." And I'm like it was just too crazy to believe. And so, I still don't have a way to really explain that except a higher power. But I've been adopted in this family-
Dr Daniel Amen: I heard of prophets had visions.
Justin Wren: Okay.
Dr Daniel Amen: And as a psychiatrist, when I hear visions, I don't automatically assume crazy. [crosstalk 00:02:26] I get curious and I see where it fits in someone's culture because I think it's like 60% of the world, they actually believe in visions and voices and things like that. So the first thing is, is it culturally a norm and does it fit who you are? So I went to a Christian college and a Christian medical school and there are certain parts where it would fit, where if you're in a secular place and you hear that, they're like, "Oh, schizophrenia, have to put you on some medication for that." But isn't it awe-inspiring to have that vision that then turns out to be what you experience?
Justin Wren: Right. And so even the chief pulled us aside and says, "Everyone else calls us the forest people." Because I was still doubting it kind of or in disbelief. And then the chief pulls us aside. And I told Caleb and Collin, "This is just too crazy or too wild. I don't understand. Like why?" And the chief pulls us aside and said, "Everyone else calls us the forest people. We call ourselves the forgotten." And that was what I wrote down on the piece of paper at the very top, forgotten. And so that's where our name comes from is Fight for the Forgotten. And since then, I went and got to live there for a year in the forest, slept in the twig and leaf huts on the dirt and the fire was our blanket. and we've been able to get back 3000 acres of land for them for the first time in their country's history, drill 61 water wells.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:04:03] For the Pygmies right?
Justin Wren: Back in their name.
Dr Daniel Amen: And one of the big issues was they were getting their land stolen from them.
Justin Wren: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And the water rights were stolen. Is that correct?
Justin Wren: Yes. Either it was stolen from them or they didn't have any access to clean water. And so one of the traumatic things we see in my brain scan is a little boy named Andy Bo. And I flashed back to that moment at different times and I was cupping the back of his head and holding his little hand whenever he took his last breath or when the blood came out of his ears. And that changed me, seeing a little boy at one and a half years old die and we dug his grave and that's happened a few times. And so that wrecked me and forever gripped my heart. But it's also motivated me to how can we help people get access to clean water so they don't-
Dr Daniel Amen: They broke your heart open.
Justin Wren: Absolutely. Crushed me. And then now we've been able to help drill 61 water wells there, helped them start farming.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wait, you said crushed you? Say more about that.
Justin Wren: It was crushing to my spirit at that time. But I think either my spirit, there's been a new resolve or resilience that's formed through it.
Dr Daniel Amen: I like broken-open.
Justin Wren: Broken-open.
Dr Daniel Amen: Because crushed, sort of means damaged.
Justin Wren: [crosstalk 00:05:26] I like that. Okay. There you go.
Dr Daniel Amen: And it motivated you.
Justin Wren: It did.
Dr Daniel Amen: And the words you use-
Justin Wren: Matter.
Dr Daniel Amen: Matter.
Justin Wren: Pretty [inaudible 00:05:32].
Dr Daniel Amen: Right? The words you use matter. So you want to always, like I edit all my books and then I have an editor edit the books, right? We want to be editing our thoughts and is this helpful? [crosstalk 00:05:44] Or is it hurtful for us? And crushed is seems, sounds permanent.
Justin Wren: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Where broken-open means you felt the pain. It's-
Justin Wren: I like that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Horrifying. But then you let the pain motivate you to help more people.
Justin Wren: Yeah. And as our-
Dr Daniel Amen: And there's videos of this online. Actually you have a TED talk.
Justin Wren: I do.
Dr Daniel Amen: Where can ... So people Google-
Justin Wren: Justin Wren, Fight for the Forgotten or Justin Wren TED and it will come up and it shares more of that story there.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, I know. It was beautiful. I watched it. It was ...
Justin Wren: Oh, thank you. Yeah. We've seen 1500 people transition out of life of slavery and into a life of freedom, like from getting their own land, having their own water, even helping them master-
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:06:33] So that's got to be a better feeling than raising your hand.
Justin Wren: [crosstalk 00:06:37] Absolutely. A village getting access to clean water or land or starting their own farm and having that celebration and eating their own fruit for the first time after being hunter-gatherers and not having any way to to have sustainable food. Those kinds of-
Dr Daniel Amen: Let me just break in a little bit. I've treated a lot of world-class athletes and singers and actors and fame is a drug. A fame is a drug that actually wears out your pleasure centers and a lot of people who get well-known, the fight or the performance or being recognized over and over again releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of brain. But if you do it too much, too often, it actually deadens that part of the brain. You actually wear it out, but transforming a life never wears out.
Justin Wren: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right? It's like the gift that keeps on giving.
Justin Wren: So I ... You're giving me a good visual here. I've been to the Superbowl and the World Series in NBA finals, and I've been to UFC 100 and 200 and some of the biggest boxing fights like Pacquiao, and those are arenas full of 10s of 1000s of people. But a small village of 80 or 130 people getting access to clean water, that celebration is something so different and it's the depth of gratitude and the transformation. It's a victory over death. It's a victory in life that matters, like our words matter.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's not a show.
Justin Wren: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's not a show.
Justin Wren: Yeah, it's-
Dr Daniel Amen: It's life.
Justin Wren: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: On the edge.
Justin Wren: And so those moments are what I live for now. It's for a village or if it's just for one person. There's a young boy named, Raiden, that we're helping here now with fight for the forgotten. He was relentlessly bullied. He was born deaf in his right ear. He's got autism and he's diabetic. He's gained 110 pounds in the last 10 or 11 months because he's on seven medications. And so we're trying to help him get healthy. But this video went viral of him getting beat up at school, at the urinal. 12 kids in the bathroom, four or five filming it.
Then the next day, just on a yard, three people are hitting them all at once. And now it's like, how can we help him? And he was diagnosed with a concussion and I was at that doctor's appointment with his parents and well, the doctor mentioned hyperbarics and that that'd be great for a concussion. And so I was like, "Oh my gosh! Everything happens for a reason." I had just started and decided to take a Raiden with me to hyperbarics. This place called Oklahoma Oasis and in Oklahoma city or Edmond and he's now had, he's actually had more than me now. I've taken him to like 20 treatments and since I've been out of town, he's had 22 treatments and we're just loving-
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:19] Oklahoma's actually a very unusual state. That's where I went to medical school. So I'm very fond of Oklahoma, but they actually passed a law giving access of hyperbaric oxygen to veterans.
Justin Wren: [crosstalk 00:09:33] To veterans.
Dr Daniel Amen: That is so cool.
Justin Wren: Oklahoma aces.
Dr Daniel Amen: I mean I was so proud of my state for that.
Justin Wren: Well, they're the ones who-
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:37] And I'm still irritated with them about the whole obesity thing.
Justin Wren: Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: We need to do better, right?
Justin Wren: Yeah/ So my wife, who, you know, Emily is helping Raiden discover hummus, carrots and hummus and cotton candy grapes or different things to try to replace the food just to help them have a healthier lifestyle. So we're getting them in the neurofeedback and all this stuff to try to rally around him. And I think the point of that is Emily shared with me, "I know why you're doing this and you just want to be the person to Raiden that you needed when you were his age."
Dr Daniel Amen: You were being bullied.
Justin Wren: Right. And so and how she's loved them and how we, our team with Fight for the Forgotten has loved him in the whole community, even the Pittsburgh Steelers and the LA Chargers and Baker Mayfield of OU, and now the Brown's. Everyone's starting to rally around this young man and it's awesome. You can't do everything you want for everyone, but you can do what you hope to do for everyone for one person.
Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.
Justin Wren: And so just investing that time to be just, I don't know if you call it a mentor, but just someone to love him like I wish I was loved at that age and so-
Dr Daniel Amen: [inaudible 00:10:46] the treatment and when we come back, we're going to go back to the bullying and how to get it out of your head. Stay with us.
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