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Dr Daniel and Tana Amen answer questions concerning happiness, joy, and the steps you can take to make them last.
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 talking about our happiness challenge this week. And in this episode, we’re answering your questions about happiness. So let’s jump in to happiness.
Well, and don’t forget, you can sign up for the happiness challenge starts May 15th. If your late to this, or you are listening to this afterwards, you can still go to the 30 day happinesschallenge.com. Mm-hmm (affirmative) So question number one. What does happiness mean to you?
To me, you’re asking me ? So quite honestly, I think happiness is about being able to manage my mind. After growing up in chronic chaos and trauma and having chronic illnesses feeling like you’ve lost control. It’s really you, I’ve learned to realize you cannot control what happens around you. The pandemic taught us you cannot control what happens around you. But being able to control your mind is the most important thing to me. So being able to do EMDR, figure out how to process trauma and do meditation and be able to control and settle myself that is and have a connection to God.
Well, and if you think about it in the four circles, at least for me, happiness is about feeling energy and being without pain.
Right, so it’s strength, it’s cognitive clarity, it’s energy from a psychological standpoint, it’s not believing everything. I think it’s focusing what I love about my life, because before I go to bed at night, I always go what went well and always have great. I was thinking if I really wanted to be unhappy, I would go to bed every night and focus on what went wrong today. [crosstalk [00:02:34] That’s what most people do because they don’t have cognitive training or mental training.
And they don’t have discipline.
And they don’t have the discipline to direct their minds before bed. It’s such a very important time is sleep and then socially being happy is when we’re happy. And when I feel the most connected to the kids, even when my kids are struggling, I’m not unhappy. I love them and I want them to figure it out and I’m there to be helpful to them, but I can’t allow their happiness to control mine because then I’m always going to be unbalanced.
Especially if you have a big family and then spiritually it’s am I doing something meaningful to make a difference in the lives of other people ?
Right and I know this is going to sound really morbid, and it’s going to sound like the opposite of happiness, but it actually lends to my happiness. Getting cancer at 23 and sort of losing what I thought led to my happiness, led me to realize we’re all going to die. So happiness can’t be based on, it can’t be based on what happens to me here now it’s got to be based on something much bigger than that. And so I think that’s why my connection to God and something that is bigger than me is important. So my meaning and purpose in life, the legacy I leave is one of the things that lends to my happiness.
Another question is how can I maintain joy when my hormones fluctuate all month long?
Get your hormones fixed, no I’m kidding, sort of. Yeah so well not everybody can, so let’s just have this conversation. Not everyone can, because they’ve got certain health conditions that make it to where they can’t do hormone therapy. So if you can’t do that, I mean for me I get my hormones balanced because I just it’s a must, but not everyone can do that. We’re huge fans of it, if you can and if you can’t
Your talking about Bioidentical hormone optimization.
Yeah. And there’s some people though, if you’ve had breast cancer or you’ve had whatever it is
Right. But if you can’t, then you do everything else right.
You do everything else right. Make sure you are [crosstalk [00:04:45]
Play football. It’s like, well, if you’re going to do a bam brain damaging sport, you should be doing everything else
Because when your diet’s not right, you actually affect your hormones in a negative way. When you’re under stress, you affect your hormones in a negative way. So getting the other things right becomes critically important.
Another question is I can’t be happy without SSRIs, but they keep me away from extreme depression and anxiety. Thoughts about that.
Well, you’re the doctor. I mean, I think for the right person for some people maybe they’re helpful. For me, they were the wrong medication. They almost ruined my life.
You have to balance your medications or balance or supplements to your brain type. It’s going to be a big thing we talk about in the happiness challenge is everybody’s brain is different.
And so knowing what makes you uniquely happy. And so for the people who really struggle with depression, if they’re worried, rigid, and flexible, if things don’t go their way they get upset, SSRIs can be really helpful. But if they struggle with depression and it’s really brain fog and low energy and low motivation [crosstalk [00:05:58] SSRIs can be a disaster. Because what we see on scans is people who have the worrying depression, they have busy frontal lobes and SSRIs calm them down. People who have the low energy depression often have decreases in their brain and SSRIs decrease it further, which could dis inhibit them.
It was a disaster for me, it made me feel numb. I wasn’t depressed, but I was numb and it made me dangerously impulsive. So I think it’s really important to understand that if you’re on the right ones or not, and if you’re wanting to get off of them, please do it with the help of a medical professional, do not do it by yourself.
And this final question I really love is how do you make happiness long lasting?
I think I mentioned this in the last one, for my opinion on this, as you make it a practice. You do it as a daily practice, you are committed to it. Just like love, just like forgiveness, you make it a, [crosstalk [00:06:59] just like a hygiene. Right.
Just Like gums your gums.
If you don’t brush your teeth and floss your gums every day, you’re going to end up with gum disease. And happiness is sort of like mental flux, if you will. And I get frustrated with some of my patients, I give them great strategies and they try them once and then they don’t try them again. And then they go, well, it didn’t help me. And it’s just so frustrating.
Do you lift a weight one time and then go, oh, it didn’t make me stronger. Silly.
Or if you’re 50 pounds overweight on Monday
Right do you eat healthy one day
And you have a salad
Monday at lunch
You have a Doughnut on Tuesday.
And then on Friday you’re frustrated because you’re not trim. That’s ridiculous.
I mean, it’s literally going to take you a year
It’s a daily practice.
Of doing the right thing that will change your brand and your body. And so we’re going to give you 30 days of a happiness challenge, but we want you to put these habits in your life for the rest of your life.
But there’s one more thing and that is when a major, when something majorly changes in your life, it’s really important to always go back and reassess. So if you’re feeling unhappy, go back and reassess the four circles, again, biology, what’s going on? Are your hormones shifting? Do you have a thyroid condition? Did you hit your head recently? Reassess the psychology, the psychological circle. Am I disciplining my mind? Is there something else happening? Did I go through a recent trauma? Reassess the social circle. Am I, is something happening in my social life in my family or whatever that’s causing that? And reassess your spiritual circle, what’s giving your life meaning and purpose. So if I’m feeling unhappy, I immediately start looking at why, because chances are I need to fix something.
You’re so smart. I liked just sitting here hanging out with you. And you are going to be with me on almost half of the happiness videos. I’m very thrilled about that, we hope you love it. Send it to all of your friends, research suggests that if you do it with a partner, you will double your improvement. How exciting is that? And we will look forward to talking to you soon.
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