#132: Brain Boosting Habits with Dr. Daniel Amen
#132: Brain Boosting Habits with Dr. Daniel Amen
How do COVID, alcohol, and marijuana affect your brain? In this episode, we are talking with Dr. Daniel Amen, one of America’s leading psychiatrists and brain health experts. His breakthrough public television programs on brain and mental health have made him well-loved by millions of viewers seeking guidance on memory, attention, other cognitive functions, emotional issues, behaviour and more. Dr. Amen has authored or coauthored 70 professional articles and more than 30 books, including New York Times mega-bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. He has appeared on numerous television shows including Dr. Phil, Larry King, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, and The View. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Time, Huffington Post, ABC World News, 20/20, BBC, London Telegraph, Parade Magazine, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, LA Times, Men’s Health, Bottom Line and Cosmopolitan. In today’s episode, we discuss Daniel’s childhood, how to work through trauma, and what trauma looks like in your brain. We’ll also talk about Daniel’s perspective on marijuana and alcohol, what COVID does to your brain, and the little exercises you can do to improve your brain’s health. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the brain and its secrets, this is a must-listen!
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Check out our website to meet the team, view show notes and transcripts: www.youngandprofiting.com
00:51 – How Daniel’s Family Background Made Him Who He Is
03:07 – Daniel’s Goat Story 07:54 – What Does Trauma Look Like In Your Brain
09:59 – How To Understand and Soothe Your Trauma
15:06 – Daniel’s Perspective on Marijuana and Alcohol on The Brain
17:32 – Does Marijuana Prevent Alzheimer’s?
21:36 – Obesity’s Impact on The Brain
27:17 – What COVID Does To Our Brain
29:20 – How to Improve Your Brain’s Health
35:24 – Understanding the Dragons That Haunt You 42:21 – A.N.T.S. (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
51:23 – Daniel’s Research He Wish Would Go Public 56:23 – Little Things You Can Do To Improve Your Brain
57:34 – Daniel’s Secret to Profiting in Life
Mentioned In The Episode:
Daniel’s Website: https://danielamenmd.com/
Daniel’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/doc_amen/
Daniel’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/DocAmen
Daniel’s Clinic Website: https://www.amenclinics.com/
#132: Brain Boosting Habits with Dr. Daniel Amen
[00:00:00] Hala Taha: You're listening to YAP Young And Profiting Podcast, a place where you can listen, learn, and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host Hala Taha, and on Young And Profiting Podcast, we investigate a new topic each week and interview some of the brightest minds in the world. My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in your everyday life.
[00:00:25] No matter your age, profession, or industry, there's no fluff on this podcast, and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of ex FBI agents, real estate moguls, self-made billionaires CEOs and bestselling author.
[00:00:47] Our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain, influence the art of entrepreneurship and more, if you're smart and like to continually improve yourself. Hit the subscribe button because you'll [00:01:00] love it here at Young And Profiting Podcast. This week on YAP, we're chatting with Dr. Daniel Amen.
[00:01:07] One of America's leading psychiatrists and brain health experts. His breakthrough public television programs on brain and mental health have made him well loved by millions of viewers seeking guidance on memory, attention, emotional issues, behavior, and more. The doctor has authored or co-authored 70 professional articles and more than 30 books, including New York Times mega bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
[00:01:33] He's appeared on numerous television shows, including the Dr. Phil show, Larry Kinglive, Dr. Oz and The View. His work has been featured in Newsweek Time, Huffington Post, ABC World News, 20/20, and so many more in today's episode, we'll discuss Daniel's childhood, how to work through trauma and what trauma looks like in your brain.
[00:01:53] We'll also talk about Daniel's perspective on marijuana and alcohol. What COVID-19 does your brain and little known
[00:02:00] exercises you can do to improve your brain health? If you've always wanted to learn more about the brain and its secrets to optimization, this episode is a must listen.
[00:02:13] This episode of YAP is brought to you by ZipRecruiter, according to Forbes, Jim's mom and pop stores, and more are set to go on an epic hiring spree to meet the pent up demand for all these services. But with these businesses reopening, that means that millions of jobs will need to be felt. So where do they turn to, to fill these roles fast ZipRecruiter.
[00:02:34] When you post a job on ZipRecruiter, they find qualified candidates for you and invite them to apply. Right now, you can try ZipRecruiter for free at this exclusive web address. ziprecruiter.com/yap, that's ziprecruiter.com/yap, ZipRecruiter the smartest way to hire.
[00:02:53] Hi, Dr. Daniel. Amen. I'm so happy to have you on Young And Profiting Podcast.
[00:02:58] Welcome to the show. [00:03:00]
[00:03:00] Daniel Amen: Thank you so much for having.
[00:03:02] Hala Taha: Of course. So you are known as like America's most famous psychiatrist, you are super accomplished. You've been doing this for 40 years, bestselling author of over a dozen books. You're known on TV, you've got television programs. You are just a rock star in this space.
[00:03:18] You are a psychiatrist, a brain disorder specialist. And it turns out that you're have Lebanese descent. So me and you are both middle Eastern. And for me being Palestinian, I feel like that's one of the reasons why I'm successful. I feel like that's one of the reasons why I have grit and drive. And so I'm curious to know how has your Lebanese descent impacted your career and the way that you are today in terms of how hardworking you are and how successful.
[00:03:44] Daniel Amen: My dad is like the embodiment of the American dream and that his parents came. My grandmother grew up in an orphanage in Bethlehem, and my grandfather came [00:04:00] from Haifa before it changed over to Israel. And they were very poor my grandfather worked in a Foundry in Flint, Michigan, and my dad's one of five, but for whatever reason, he had the drive in the family and worked in a grocery store and ended up owning his own chain of grocery stores and became the chairman of the board of a $4 billion company.
[00:04:27] And I think I inherited his drive and revenues are often called the merchants of the middle east. And I'm so grateful. I have an older brother because in middle Eastern families, the oldest boy golden child, if you're not the oldest boy, you are a bit expendable. And so I was second, which was just perfect because I had the drive, but I wasn't all that attached to the grocery business and just love psychiatry and [00:05:00] wanted to, that's what I wanted to do for my life.
[00:05:04] And it just sorta work. I'm grateful.
[00:05:08] Hala Taha: Yeah, I can imagine. And likewise, my dad, same thing like embodied the American dream came over here, became a surgeon, grew up super poor. And so I can totally relate to, looking up to your father in that way. I know that you and your father actually didn't have the best relationship.
[00:05:26] So let's actually move on to that. You have a funny goat story that I want to talk about. And it's, I think a lot of middle Easterns have really traumatic goats stories. Like my older brother has a very similar one, so I heard those and I thought it was so funny. So tell us about the goat story, but really the lesson that I want to pull out is how trauma impacts your brain and how long that trauma stayed with you and how you healed it.
[00:05:49] So tell us about this goat story.
[00:05:51] Daniel Amen: My dad was a no B S person. He was not warm and fuzzy. It's two favorite [00:06:00] words when I was growing up or no. Whenever you asked him the answer was now and bullshit, I was at duke and when I was five, actually have a video of this. I played it at my latest public television special I'm five years old.
[00:06:17] We have a white goat, pure white. Her name was sugar. She loved me, I loved her, but she also loved my father's roses. So my father loved gardening and one day she had just ate too many of the roses and he sent her away. To the farm, which basically meant server's getting slaughtered. I didn't understand it at the time until a couple of nights later, my dad and his brother were joking.
[00:06:51] They were feeding us sugar for dinner and goats, stew. I remember throwing up [00:07:00] running to my room crying and just thinking what an awful human being he was. And then I let it go. And it was decades later, I am a psychiatrist. I'm speaking at a big conference on spirituality and the mind and Monterrey, Mexico.
[00:07:23] In Mexico, they actually have, one of their street vendors. They sell goat meat and, I walk by and I could smell the goat mate. And then I saw it. And then all of a sudden I had a panic attack. It was like, I got flooded with that memory of when I was five in the murderer of sugar over this stupid roses, that's just, the brain works through association.
[00:07:54] The cool end of the story is when I told my dad I wanted to be a psychiatrist. [00:08:00] He asked me why I didn't want to be a real doctor, why I wanted to be a nut doctor and hang out with nuts all day long. So that really crystallizes our relationship. But seven years before he died, he got really sick. And for the first time in his life, he looked at me and he said, I'm sick of being sick.
[00:08:18] What do you want me to do? And that's when our relationship really transitioned into a more helpful adult relationship.
[00:08:29] Hala Taha: Yeah, I'm glad that you guys ended up making up before he passed. I think that's, you must feel a lot of comfort knowing that you guys healed your relationship before he, he, transitioned into another place.
[00:08:43] So I definitely understand what you went through. I actually lost my father to COVID last May. So I know how that.
[00:08:51] Daniel Amen: Last minute. I remember the day and I was just horrified. When people go COVID, it's a cold, it's no, it's
[00:09:00] not a cold. I'm so sorry.
[00:09:01] Hala Taha: Yeah. It's okay. I think he had such a great life.
[00:09:04] Everybody remembers him. So while he was actually, I know your dad was really tough around the edges. My dad was just like this super nice, generous. Everybody loved him, community leader, just such a great guy. So I just feel like he left such a great legacy. So I don't feel so like bad about it. Cause I just feel like he touched so many people and everybody loves him and it just was his time.
[00:09:27] I guess I have to be positive about.
[00:09:29] Daniel Amen: It if I can ask how old was he?
[00:09:31] Hala Taha: He was 74.
[00:09:33] Daniel Amen: Wow.
[00:09:34] Hala Taha: Yeah. I'm the youngest of all our siblings. I have four.
[00:09:40] Daniel Amen: I'm working with seven, a good Catholic webinars.
[00:09:44] Hala Taha: Yes. That's a lot of kids and I'm the only, non-doctor all my siblings are doctors except for me.
[00:09:50] And I'm the media personality. So to each their own. So let's talk about that trauma, what that trauma looked like in your brain, what did that, what does [00:10:00] trauma look like in your brain? So when that goat thing happened, you ended up having to eat your pet goat. That was probably very traumatizing. What does that look like in your brain.
[00:10:10] Daniel Amen: So I actually published a couple of very large studies. So at Amen Clinics, we have nine soon to be 10 clinics around the United States. We do brain imaging work. We think you should actually look at the brain before you go about messing with it. Too many people are being put on psychiatric medications and no one's actually ever assessed the Oregon of behavior, which is your brain.
[00:10:37] And I published a study on 21,000 people showing we could separate emotional trauma PTSD from physical trauma, traumatic brain injuries with very high levels of accuracy. And it's what we call with emotional trauma. This diamond pattern where your [00:11:00] limbic or emotional brain. Becomes over active and you just can't stop thinking about it.
[00:11:09] That trauma I grew up with got sad in my brain and then periodically something would trigger it. And then all of a sudden I would feel awful. And that's true for so many people, but trauma actually leaves an imprint of activity that can be flipped, switches that you just aren't ready for. Like walking by goat made on this.
[00:11:43] Hala Taha: Yeah. That's, it's super interesting that things can stay with you for so long. And you don't even, you might not even remember that you have this memory, but then something triggers it and you're like, oh shoot. I remember when that happened, when I was much younger. So how do you overcome that? How do you cleanse that trauma from you [00:12:00] or just trauma stay with you forever?
[00:12:02] Daniel Amen: No, there's a lot of work that you can do. To one, understand it, and two I, published a, another study on a treatment technique. I'm very fond of called EMDR, which stands for eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing. It's a treatment where you bring up the drama. So I could talk about the goat story and the therapist gets your eyes to go back and forth while you do it.
[00:12:33] And initially it heightens the feeling, but after they're done it dissipates and it's really cool. And I think it's the bilateral hemisphere stimulation simulated on one side than the other one side, then the other. That helps bring it up and then calm it down. There's another treatment technique.
[00:12:55] I like a lot called Havening. So like safe Havening, H A V E N I N [00:13:00] G. And people can learn about it havening.org I also talk about it in my new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening. And I remember shortly after my dad died last year, I'm like in my mom's house a couple of days later, we're just going through papers and some idiot put a picture of my dead dad in the mortuary in a random stack of papers.
[00:13:26] And I remember going through it and then I saw it and it was like, somebody just. Through hot water on you, and it just upset me like the rest of the day, what it would do this. And I noticed the picture bothered me. I help people with this problem. And so I did Havening and again, by lateral hemisphere stimulation.
[00:13:49] So it's either you stroke down from your shoulders to your elbows or you stroke your face, which during the time of COVID, it's probably [00:14:00] not a good idea or rub your hands like this. And so you bring up, so I noticed later in the day okay, you're obsessing about this. So you think about it and I just started.
[00:14:13] And you do it for 30 seconds and you rate it like on a scale of one to 10, how upsetting it is. And it was like a nine and I'm still very raw for my dad died, but after 30 seconds of Havening and I noticed it was sorta like a four. And after doing that it to do it like up to six, seven times after the third time, it didn't bother me.
[00:14:37] Then after I did it a couple of more times, it became my favorite picture because it was the last picture of my dad on earth. And he was at peace. And so there are lots of ways, some people use tapping, sometimes people use hypnosis, which I'm a big fan of the trick is [00:15:00] do something. That helps rather than do things that hurt, there are fixes that fail marijuana, alcohol, ice cream, being angry, randomly dating to just sue the hurt you have. I like it I wrote a book once called Feel Better Fast and Make It Last, what are the strategies we can use that help us now and later versus now, but not later.
[00:15:33] Hala Taha: Yeah. I love that Havening and thing, it's so funny. I want to just clear something up. So my dad died May, 2020, which is why I'm more over it than I think your dad died May, 2021. So my dad died right.
[00:15:47] Oh, your dad died May 22. Okay. I thought I just wanted to be dead. You're still fit. Yeah. You know what?
[00:15:54] I, it's funny that you just talked about the Havening thing, cause that's actually going to really help me because I, unfortunately, [00:16:00] my dad died in the hospital and we weren't allowed to visit him. And the last time, the only time they allowed us to go to the hospital was after he died. So I. See this image of my dead father and I, and it's so hard to get out of my mind.
[00:16:14] So I want to definitely use up the next time that happens. And then I like the fact that you said that it's your favorite picture. Cause it's great to reframe things in that way from a negative into a positive. So I actually will take that forever. So thank you for sharing that with me. Okay. So let's talk about alcohol and smoking marijuana on the brain since you brought it up.
[00:16:35] Talk to us about your research with SPECT scans and what your perspective is on marijuana and the brain, because marijuana is getting legalized everywhere. It's really common, especially for millennials to be smoking marijuana. And I think that you have a perspective that needs to be heard about it.
[00:16:57] Daniel Amen: Yeah. And I have no dog in the fight, I'm quite [00:17:00] frankly more likely to see you if you use marijuana than if you don't, but. I like this verse in the new Testament, John 8:32 know the truth and the truth will set you free. Marijuana is bad for the brain. How do I know? I've looked at thousands of marijuana users actually published a study on a thousand marijuana users compared to healthy brains.
[00:17:28] Every area of the brain is lower in blood flow. So from the moment I ordered my first scan in 1991, I'm like, oh, marijuana makes your brain look older than you are. And it gives the brain that sort of toxic, unhealthy look. And then if you've been a psychiatrist for 40 years, you realize marijuana causes some vulnerable people to have an increased risk of psychosis.
[00:17:58] And if you [00:18:00] smoke, if you use marijuana as a teenager, You're much more likely in your twenties to struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I was on the Michael Savage show years ago. He was a famous talk show host, and he's going, you're going to get a lot of haters. And I'm like, yes, but everybody who's going to call is spontaneously going to complain of short-term memory problems, because marijuana affects your ability to learn.
[00:18:31] And remember, I'm a fan of it being legal. Why please don't put people smoke pot in jail. That is just a bad use of resources. Let's just teach people that, maybe this is a fix that fails. And ultimately there are a whole bunch of other things you can do to feel better.
[00:18:51] Hala Taha: Yeah. What about that argument? That marijuana smoking prevents all timers. Is there any truth to that?
[00:18:58] Daniel Amen: Absolutely not, [00:19:00] and the people who are selling it, the people who are for it are going to dig up all the research they can on it. But the number one predictor you're going to get Alzheimer's disease, is low blood flow to the brain.
[00:19:16] Number one, predictor marijuana, lowers blood flow to the brain.
[00:19:22] Hala Taha: Let's talk about obesity because people think obesity, they think you're physically unhealthy. I don't think they're thinking about your brain and how obesity impacts your brain. Can you talk to us about that?
[00:19:32] Daniel Amen: The research actually is horrifying and I come from a family of fat people.
[00:19:38] My dad used to always say when I said, but I have a brother that's 150 pounds overweight and a sister 150 or 200 pounds overweight, and I notice there's that tendency, and if I just ate everything I wanted, I'd be fat. And then one of my friends published a [00:20:00] study that said, as your weight goes up, the size of your brain goes down and I'm like, oh no.
[00:20:10] And that actually gave me the motivation to lose the 20 pounds. I've been trying to lose for 30 years. Cause I'm not ever doing anything purposefully to have a smaller brain. That's a brand violation for me. And then I looked at my own database because I have a group of normal scan, normal people.
[00:20:28] Healthy people. And I didn't separate out the people who are overweight or obese from the people who are healthy weight. So I looked at that and being overweight significantly was associated with low blood flow to the front part of the brain. Things like focus and forethought and judgment and impulse control.
[00:20:50] And then I was doing a big NFL study at the time. I looked at my NFL players who are overweight versus healthy weight. Again, low blood flow, [00:21:00] and then I coined a term called the dinosaur syndrome, big body, little brain. You're going to become extinct, we need to get serious about this. And then last year I published a huge study on 35,000 scans and found there is basically a linear correlation as your weight goes up. The function of your brain goes down everywhere and we're in trouble with 42% of us over no 42% of us obese in the United States.
[00:21:34] 72% of us overweight. This is the biggest brain drain in the history of the United States. I have a mnemonic I like, if you want to keep your brain healthy or rescue it, if it's headed for trouble, you have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. And we know what they are, and the mnemonic has called bright [00:22:00] minds.
[00:22:00] If you're overweight, you have six of them just being overweight because the fat on your body, if you're overweight, it lowers blood flow. We just talked about that. It prematurely ages, the brain fat cells increase inflammation. And everybody now knows that if you're overweight or obese, it increases your risk of dying from COVID-19 pat cells store toxins.
[00:22:26] They change hormones. So the end in bright minds is neuro hormones. It takes healthy testosterone, which is important for men and women and turns. Into unhealthy cancer, promoting forms of estrogen. This is a bad thing, and then the D in bright minds is diabesity high blood sugar, more likely to have if you're overweight or being overweight.
[00:22:55] So we need to get serious. And being too thin [00:23:00] is not good for your brain, right? Your brain needs nutrients, but we need to stop supersizing things. And neuro marketers are winning and they brag about it. Like with Lay's potato chips, I don't know if you remember, but they used to have a slogan that you can eat just one it's they're addictive.
[00:23:21] And we thought about how to make it that way, or are they put super cutewomen? Carl's Jr burgers, and these women aren't eating these burgers, but it's that unconscious connection that if I eat this cheeseburger, Catherine Webb is going to watch. No, she wanted the quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
[00:23:44] She's not going to want you, if you keep eating those burgers.
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[00:26:44] It's so funny because people don't really think about food and its impact on your brain, but to your point, it's super, super strong. So we were talking a little earlier about COVID-19 and I've heard, other viruses can impact [00:27:00] your brain. And so I was wondering from your perspective, what you think COVID-19 would do to our brain, just knowing what other viruses have done to people's brains in the past.
[00:27:12] Daniel Amen: So I have hundreds of COVID scans and it's not good news, for some people, their immune system handles COVID-19 and they're not even symptomatic for other people. They end up in the ICU, they lose their sense of taste and smell. They're more likely to get anxious or depressed or have brain fog.
[00:27:34] And I actually have a handful of scans where I had the person scan beforehand. And then they got COVID-19 and COVID-19 tends to increase inflammation in the brain. And it sorta jacks up your limbic or your emotional brain leaving you at a significantly higher risk for [00:28:00] anxiety, depression, brain fog, and irritability.
[00:28:04] I find I do a lot of smell retraining with my patients and, we get them a diffuser and lots of different sense, and we work on them for 10 minutes a day. I just want you to smell these and see if you can tell the difference, cause we're training their smell neurons to wake up. And it's amazing how many people with COVID.
[00:28:30] It changes their sense of taste and healthy food. Just doesn't taste good, for them anymore. And they end up eating, more low quality foods which can really negatively impact your health. COVID serious and both you and I know that and we have to be serious about preventing the spread as much as we can.
[00:28:56] Hala Taha: So is there anything that we can do if we got COVID-19 to [00:29:00] help counteract what the virus would do to our brain?
[00:29:04] Daniel Amen: Yeah, I wrote a book once called Memory Rescue. And if you want to prevent or treat those 11 major risk factors that we talked about earlier, and, I think of brain health, in really simple terms.
[00:29:19] The first thing is brain envy. You want to care about it? Freud was wrong, penis envy is not the cause of anybody's problem. I haven't seen it once in 40 years. So you have to really love your brain and then avoid things that hurt it and do things. That help it, and so most people sorta really know what hurts their brain.
[00:29:44] And, we talked about marijuana, alcohol is really not better alcohol, any alcohol is associated with an increased risk of seven different kinds of cancer. And so people that go everything in [00:30:00] moderation, that's the gateway. Thought to hell because it just means you're going to cheat. You're going to continue to give yourself permission to cheat, and you're really not going to get serious about your health and and the reason I don't do those things, I think of it purely as an act of love that it's not deprivation.
[00:30:19] I'm not depriving myself of something. It's I love myself and I love my family and I love my mission. I need a good brain to actualize those things. Cause I know you, you think about business and work a lot with business. What's the oragan of success in business, it's your brain. And so right, it's a series of decisions that you purposefully make over time.
[00:30:50] That's what grows great businesses. And so I avoid things that hurt it, bad food. Don't hit soccer balls with my head,
[00:31:00] thoughtful when I drive and then I engage in regular brain-healthy habits, relationships, sleep, you want to feel better tomorrow and go to bed early tonight. That sleep is absolutely essential, simple supplements, multiple vitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, we talked about COVID-19 people have low levels of vitamin D died more often than people who had healthy levels.
[00:31:25] How simple is that? Super simple, your best defense against COVID-19. It's your immune system and your brain,
right? It's the decisions that you make day in and day out?
[00:31:43] Hala Taha: Yeah. 100% COVID is super serious. I hope everybody out. Are you pro vaccine? Are you pro-vaccine?
[00:31:50] Daniel Amen: I am, because it turns COVID into a cold, right?
[00:31:54] Getting a vaccine. That doesn't mean you won't get COVID in doesn't mean you can't spread it, but it [00:32:00] prevents it because your body now recognizes it as a troublemaker. It prevents it from getting out of your lungs out of your respiratory track. I have so many stories of people who didn't get the vaccine that really got hurt.
[00:32:17] And I have so many stories of, I do a lot of work with police, teaching police, how to have a brain healthy police departments. And one of the departments I work with. One of the guys that works there is like morbidly obese, and he wasn't going to get the vaccine and his chief like chewed him out, and I was like, you need to get it because you're at the greatest risk.
[00:32:41] And he ended up, got the vaccine, got COVID. And it was like, he had a cold for three days. It was really amazing. So yeah, I, and people go, we don't know. And we're part of an experiment. Those who haven't gotten the vaccine or the control broke in the experiment and so [00:33:00] far, it's not a good thing.
[00:33:02] Hala Taha: I totally agree. I think if you're out there, you need to get vaccinated. They say 99% of people who go into the hospital right now, are the folks who have not gotten vaccinated. And so you definitely need to take care of yourself, take it seriously. We both know that it's a very serious virus, any last things on telling people to get the vaccine.
[00:33:22] Cause I'm definitely putting this out on social media. I think it needs to be spread across billboards.
[00:33:26] Daniel Amen: I have an Instagram account and we almost have a half a million followers and they love me for the most part. And we posted my wife and I, when I got the vaccine and the level of hate that we got, it was shocking to me.
[00:33:45] But at the same time, I'm not going to let you know the people who disagree with me change the way I think, or the advice that I give, I want you to protect yourself there, there is this same [00:34:00] fight for vaccinations, with smallpox and the people who didn't get it, they spread it smallpox more and that's not okay because that was lethal.
[00:34:12] COVID is potentially lethal, especially for vulnerable people.
[00:34:18] Hala Taha: Yeah. They said that COVID over the last 18 months has killed more people than HIV over the last 40 years. That is serious, and we should take it seriously. Thank you for sharing your perspective on that. Let's talk about dragons. So in your new book, you talk about these dragons that are coming from our past haunting us today.
[00:34:40] What are these dragons and what are some of the dragons that you have from your past?
[00:34:44] Daniel Amen: So as I was writing your brain is always listening. My new book, I initially thought your brain listens to the food you eat. And the news you listened to in the social media, you follow. And then I'm like, your [00:35:00] brain also is listening to the past.
[00:35:02] And I have a friend sharon May who uses the analogy of dragons in her couples counseling. And I'm like, I wonder what dragons I have, and so together, Sharon, I came up with 13 dragons, to one degree or another. We all have a little bit of them, but people have primary and secondary dragons.
[00:35:23] My primary dragon, is the abandoned and visible or insignificant drag. And I wasn't abandoned, but I was invisible being one of seven, third, completely not special in a Lebanese family, being the second son. And, it hurts sometimes, and I built a life based on being significant. I love helping, and when I don't help that dragon on the sort of breathe on, breathe fire on my emotional brain.
[00:35:54] And I have to be careful because I can't help everybody. You sorta have to want to be helped [00:36:00] for it to work, not everybody's actually a good candidate to get psychiatric help. The second one I had, the inferior flawed dragon. When, so I'm smaller I, was like the smallest kid in my class, and that was hard.
[00:36:19] And then being second and then being Lebanese, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles, where it was a high Jewish population. And there was always that sort of conflict in my family, and in the neighborhood in being Palestinian, you understand here in the United States. Most people take Israel's position and we're like, there really is another side to this story that very often in the US doesn't get told.
[00:36:52] And so there's also the anxious dragon, the wounded dragon, the whole goat story, the [00:37:00] responsible dragon, or if you grew up Roman Catholic, like I did the shouldn't shaming dragon, that's always pointing his finger at you. My favorite of all the dragons is the ancestral dragon. That's where the issues you have, they're not yours that you inherited them.
[00:37:23] They actually got written into your genetic code. And I just think now about civil war in Syria and all those children that are being traumatized. That trauma's being written in the genetic code. So when they have babies, the babies are more likely to struggle with anxiety, more likely to have issues with post-traumatic stress disorder.
[00:37:50] And if you think of, being Palestinian or Lebanese, there's a lot or Israeli, there's a lot of [00:38:00] trauma. In our family history, that is part of our genetic code. When you think of the whole black lives matter movement, there's generations of trauma, but they're not special, right? Being Palestinian.
[00:38:17] You understand that, it's not just one group virtually every country around the world has its issue with repressed people. And even after the repression may be better, they're still the trauma that can move. Through generations. There's also another of the dragons I've been thinking about lately is the death Dragan and COVID has just exploded this, not being able to see your father when he was in the hospital or children are worried about death, more than ever before because of the death numbers and one of my funds strategies.
[00:38:59] [00:39:00] So each of the dragons, where do they come from? What's the upside because all of them have an upside. How do you fix them? So we have strategies and my favorite strategy for the death dragon. You have to know you're going to die. It's the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty purposeless lives because when you.
[00:39:25] I think you're going to live forever. You don't take care of the relationships and issues you need to take care of, and so when I was in college, I wrote my own funeral. Very helpful to just know there's an end. So if there's an end, I need to make today, I need today special. And one of my favorite techniques is to actually list 10 good things about dying and living in near Los Angeles is I'll never have to drive in LA traffic.
[00:39:56] Again, these people are seriously crazy. [00:40:00] I won't have to go to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist, got my teeth cleaned two weeks ago. And it's like, why are you poking my gums with this sharp metal object? So just looking at what's good about it. Take some of the sting out of it.
[00:40:16] Hala Taha: Yeah. I love that.
[00:40:17] It reminds me of something that I'd spoke with Robert Greene and he taught me about the law of death denial. It's very similar to what you're talking about right now. And I love how you put some strategies in place, like writing your own funeral or writing 10 things down that is good about death, because it can actually be the greatest motivator.
[00:40:34] Death can be the life's greatest motivator. I totally agree in the outro. I will list all of your dragons and give everybody a great overview of that later on. And you guys can go to knowyourdragons.com for a free quiz. If you want to find out what your dragons are. All right, let's talk about another animal or insect and that's ants.
[00:40:55] What our ants, A N T S tell us about [00:41:00] that. Automatic negative thoughts, right?
[00:41:03] Daniel Amen: Automatic negative thoughts come into your mind and ruin you. And it's shocking that you can get out of high school or college or having an advanced degree and no one ever taught you not to believe every stupid thing you think, that actually no classes in managing your mind.
[00:41:30] And I came up with the term ants, about 30 years ago, I had a really hard day at work. I had four suicidal people. That's a lot in a day, I had two couples who hated each other, and two teenagers who'd run away from home. And at the end of the day I came home, I was worn out and I had an ant infestation in my kitchen.
[00:41:56] And currently I'm battling ants in my [00:42:00] house. So I just know how irritating they are and I was cleaning them up. Like ants, automatic negative thoughts. Cause you know, when you're in medical school, you have to learn so much. You're always using memory tricks to remember things. And I'm like, my patients are infested and the next day I brought a can of raid and spray to work and I put it on my coffee table and I said, I'm going to teach you how to kill the ants and the kids because I'm also a child psychiatrist just loved it.
[00:42:33] And then I went to Pier 39 in San Francisco, near my office and I got an anteater puppet and then subsequently gave away these little anteaters, because you don't have to believe every stupid thing you think. And whenever you feel sad or mad or nervous or out of control, write down what you're thinking.[00:43:00]
[00:43:00] And then ask yourself whether or not it's true. I don't know if you were any good when you were a teenager talking back to your parents. I was excellent, but no one ever taught me to talk back to myself, that if I have a thought I'm no good. It just came out recently. I love Naomi Osaka and how she's been so public with her struggles and she's getting ready for the US open.
[00:43:32] And she came out with, I am never enough, I'm never good enough. And I'm like, no one's ever taught her to manage her mind. And I've been blessed, I came out last year. I've been Justin Bieber's doctor for a long time and Miley Cyrus. They have exactly those same thoughts and no one had ever taught them.
[00:43:56] It's you don't have to believe every stupid thing [00:44:00] you think, that you can learn to manage your mind. And I have another fun technique called give your mind the name. So it's based on a concept called psychological distancing. You can distance yourself from the chatter. And I actually gave my mind the name of Hermie was my pet raccoon.
[00:44:23] When I was 16, actually I had a pet raccoon and she was a troublemaker and I loved her, but she teepeed my mother's bathroom. She ate my sister's fish out of the aquarium. She used to leave raccoon poo in my shoes. She's just like my mind. All of a sudden, my mind will pop up with these terrible thoughts and I'm like, oh, Hermie, I need to put you in the cage.
[00:44:49] It's oh, I don't need to listen to you today. And periodically I'd just check in and see how she's doing. But mind management is so [00:45:00] important. Now you need some anxiety. Let's just get that out of the way, right away. People with low levels of anxiety die, the earliest from accidents and preventable illnesses, but obviously too much devastate your life.
[00:45:16] And so I want a nothing anxiety that I do, the right things, but no more, which means I have to manage the thoughts I have. And there's an exercise in your brain is always listening of write down a hundred of your worst thoughts. And then I have you ask yourself five questions on each thought, and it's so powerful.
[00:45:42] If you do it a hundred times, the ants will dissipate and having an ant infestation. Now, when you go to bed, you just feel these creepy crawly things on you, even when they're not there. When you have negative thoughts, they affect everything in your [00:46:00] life, from your happiness, your relationships. Yeah. They just affect every.
[00:46:06] Hala Taha: Yeah, I feel like negative thoughts can impact your success to your point, your relationships. And like you said, they don't teach that in school. I wish they would teach mental health in school the same way that they implemented, like PE I wish they would do something like meditation class or some sort of mental health class.
[00:46:23] I hope that's in our future soon.
[00:46:26] Daniel Amen: We have a of course, and we actually have an elementary school curriculum where we do just that we stick, kill the ants and manage their minds and do diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing is so helpful, so simple, so important, and it's something you can control.
[00:46:46] And if you ever watch a baby breathe or a puppy breathe, they breathe almost exclusively with their bellies. Living through stress, especially a pandemic, our breathings become more chest-based [00:47:00] shallow or more rapid, which just makes us more anxious.
[00:47:04] Hala Taha: So you say breathe through your belly then.
[00:47:07] Daniel Amen: Yeah. So imagine a balloon in your room. And when you breathe in, blow it up. So let your belly get big. Which means for women never wear tight clothes. Cause if you're wearing something tight, you can't expand your lungs and that's going to make you more anxious and having five sisters and five daughters that this is, I'm like no tight clothes.
[00:47:36] And it's oh, but I want to look skinny. And it's yeah, you'll be skinny and anxious and less attractive because being anxious, isn't attractive and then take twice as long to breathe out as you breathe in. And so there's a cool app. I like called Awesome Breathing and I'll program it four seconds in eight [00:48:00] seconds out.
[00:48:01] You just have to do it for two minutes. Like when you come home, I want you to just try this. Instead of the other thing we talked about just for three minutes, awesome breathing. And when you program it four seconds in, hold it for a second, eight seconds out, hold it for a second, just for three minutes, and then email me and tell me how you feel, because I guarantee you're going to trigger a relaxation response in your body, but your mind will be clearer than ever.
[00:48:37] And as a business person, it's not what you really want. Clarity, you want clarity, you want focus you want energy, but without the frenetic pace, without the sort of monkey mind going on and diaphragmatic breathing just it's so cool because it's
[00:49:00] intentional, it's biologic, it's psychologic, and just helps you be your best.
[00:49:05] Hala Taha: Yeah. And what's the name of that app? It's Awesome Breathing, you said.
[00:49:08] Daniel Amen: Awesome Breathing.
[00:49:10] Yeah. It's free. It's so simple.
[00:49:13] Hala Taha: Awesome. I can't wait to try it. We'll stick that link in our show notes. So we are about to wrap up here. We're running out of time. I have a question for you. I'm one of my last questions is what would be the one thing you wish would go mainstream, out of all your research that you've done, that you wish that the medical field and your colleagues would really understand, and you wish that it would just go mainstream.
[00:49:38] What's one piece of research you wish would just go mainstream.
[00:49:41] Daniel Amen: Let me pick two. The first one is imaging. If you don't look, you don't know, I'm furious. My colleagues have tried to diminish me over the years and it's I'm trying to get more information to help my patients and stop guessing like you are and [00:50:00] in May.
[00:50:01] This year, one of my top 10 happiest moments of my whole life happened, when the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine put out new procedure guidelines on brain SPECT imaging, basically as if I wrote them. And so imaging needs to go mainstream. How do you know that your depression is not the result of being exposed to COVID or having an environmental toxin or had a head injury that changed your life?
[00:50:33] How do you know if you don't look, depression's not Prozac deficiency and I'm not opposed to Prozac. I just don't think that should be the first and only thing you use in the dark. Think of depression like chest pain, it's nobody gets a diagnosis of chest pain because it doesn't tell you what causes it or what to do for, the second thing I want to go mainstream is brain envy.[00:51:00]
[00:51:00] I want us to love our brains. Nobody loves our brain there'll brain, cause you can't see it. When I first looked at my brain in 1991, I'm like that's not healthy. I played football in high school, had meningitis as a young soldier thought I was special because I could get by on four hours of sleep at night.
[00:51:17] And when I saw my brain and I realized I wasn't special, I was stupid. Loving your brain and really taking care of it. I want brain health to be as popular as Peloton and working out and physical health. And if you want to mentally strong, you have to work out just like being physically strong.
[00:51:41] It's a daily practice.
[00:51:43] Hala Taha: And something that I want to stress is just the way that you can lose weight. You can make your brain better. So if you scan your brain now, does it look better now than it did when you first initially scanned it 20 years ago? Or whenever that was?
[00:51:55] Daniel Amen: Radically better? I have a new, I have a series.
[00:51:59] In fact, [00:52:00] you should do it with me on Instagram called Scan My Brain, where we take influencers, scan them, and then I go over it with them. And we just did Dr. Emily Morse. I don't know if Emily, but Sex with Emily, huge podcasts and Sirius Radio. I scanned her and then she fell in love with her brain and did what I asked her to do.
[00:52:20] And 18 months later, her brains dramatically better. We have that episode coming up soon on Instagram. And that's the whole point. It's your not stuck with the brain. You have, you can make it better, even if you've been bad to your brain.
[00:52:38] Hala Taha: I would love to do that test with you. I feel like that would motivate me to stop doing what we talked about before, because I would know the truth and stop believing these false narratives that are out there that I've lied to myself.
[00:52:52] Basically it really quick, I do want to talk about coordination and how coordination and dancing and doing things,
[00:53:00] like playing ping pong can actually improve your brain. And any other tips that you can give us in terms of things that I would have never known. If I wasn't studying you that like dancing would be good for my brain.
[00:53:11] What are some little things that we can pick up and start doing that can help improve ourselves? That aren't so obvious?
[00:53:18] Daniel Amen: So table tennis is the world's best brain game because you got to get your eyes, hands and feet all working together. While you think about the spin on the ball. No, not beer pong. It's like dancing is amazing because it's a coordination exercise, but not if you're drinking while you're dancing.
[00:53:37] The cerebellum in the back bottom part of the brain has half the brains neurons. Cerebellum is Latin for a little brain. It's involved in coordination, but so much more when we activate that with coordination exercises, people think better. They actually make better decisions. So being involved with coordination exercises on a [00:54:00] regular basis is great for you.
[00:54:02] Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally, I think just any physical activity, I can correlate from when I started to becoming successful, it was when I started going to the gym, like literally I feel like it changed my mind. It changed the way that I thought. So doctor, I do want to be respectful of your time. The last question I ask all my guests is what is your secret to profiting in life?
[00:54:21] Daniel Amen: So in 1986, I wrote a book called the Sabotage Factor. All the ways we mess ourselves up from getting what we want. And the number one hallmark of self-defeating behavior is blaming other people for how your life turns out. So I take responsibility and responsibilities, never blame. It's just my ability to respond to whatever situation comes my way.
[00:54:47] So it starts with that. And then it goes to, what do you want? Clarity clearly defining what you want. Relationships, work ,money, physical [00:55:00] emotional, spiritual health. I have an exercise called the One Page Miracle, write it out and write what you want, not what you don't want. Focus on negativity will bring more negativity in your life.
[00:55:14] I think if I had to go to why have I been successful? Because I'm responsible and I have clarity and I stopped caring, what other people think of me? There's a rule I love called the 18 ,40, 60 rule that says when you're 18, you worry about what everybody's thinking of you. When you're 40, you don't give a damn what anybody thinks about.
[00:55:36] And when you're 60, you realize nobody's been thinking about you at all. People spend their days worrying and thinking about themselves, not you. So do what makes you happy as long as you can support your family. There's people go, do what you love. And it's as long as you can support your family is an important caveat to [00:56:00] that.
[00:56:00] And I think that, and brain health, because I love my brain. I'm 67. I have the same energy I had is when I was 30. I have the same mental clarity. I just have a lot more experienced in wisdom.
[00:56:14] Hala Taha: I love that this was such an excellent conversation. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything?
[00:56:20] Daniel Amen: So they can go to amenclinics.com. So Amen, like the last word and the prayer clinics.com. They can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram @docamen.
[00:56:32] Hala Taha: Amazing. Thank you so much. It was such a great conversation.
[00:56:37] Daniel Amen: Thank you.
[00:56:39] Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to Young And Profiting Podcast. If you haven't yet, make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
[00:56:44] So you never miss an episode, man. I think this conversation with Dr. Daniel Amen was so good. I asked my team to push it out earlier than originally scheduled, because I think it's super important, especially after such a challenging couple of years with the pandemic, to be able [00:57:00] to check in on ourselves mentally and make sure that we have the recovery tools for past trauma.
[00:57:05] Daniel told us a story about a pet goat that he had when he was a little boy, his father sent away that goat. One day he loves so much, and then they had him for dinner. He was mortified. He was disgusted. And decades later as an adult, that traumas still lived in him. The brain works through associations.
[00:57:22] So even if you don't know it, emotional trauma can live in your brain and then come up when you least expect it in order to overcome serious trauma, you have to do the hard work. You should seek advice from a medical professional who can help you find the right treatment. And then you should avoid forms of recovery that don't work.
[00:57:39] You should avoid trying to overcome trauma by using alcohol, marijuana, or eating junk food. Those are all really bad vices for your brain and will have the opposite effect. And Daniel Amen, new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening. He uses the analogy of dragons that describe unhealthy thoughts that go into our emotional brain as promised.
[00:57:58] I'm going to outline all the [00:58:00] dragons. Daniel mentions in his book here in the outro. The first one is inferior or flaw dragons. This is when you feel inferior to others, anxious dragons. When you feel fearful or overwhelmed, wounded dragons, you're bruised by past trauma should and shaming dragons. You're racked with guilt, special, spoiled, or entitled dragons.
[00:58:19] You feel more special than others. Responsible dragons. You need to take care of others. Angry dragons, you Harbor hurt and rage, judgemental dragons. You hold harsh or critical opinions of others due to past injustices that you've suffered. Death dragons, you fear the future and lack of meaningful life. Grief and loss dragons.
[00:58:39] You feel loss and fear loss. Hopeless and helpless dragons, you have a pervasive sense of despair and discouragement. Ancestral dragons, you're affected by issues of past generation. So everybody has dragons and these dragons can actually be beneficial and they can, of course, hurt you and hurt your success in life.
[00:58:59] And [00:59:00] Dr. Daniel outlines, how do you overcome these dragons in his book? And personally, I feel like I have a bunch of these dragons. I definitely have special spoiled or entitled dragon where sometimes I feel more special than others. It's good and bad. Like I said before, I think your weaknesses can be your biggest strength.
[00:59:16] So I feel more special than others. Meaning I feel confident. I feel life is limitless. I'm super optimistic, but at the same time, people might not think I'm the most humble person. They might not want to do favors for me. They might think that I already have it all figured out and nobody really wants to give me a handout or help me because I am really confident and that's not the best relationships.
[00:59:37] It actually turns out to work. Okay. In terms of my success as an entrepreneur, I also have wounded dragons. I'm 100% bruised by past drama, whether that's, past relationships that I've had, that weren't the healthiest or the fact that my dad tragically died from COVID-19 last year. And I definitely still have work to do in terms of healing from that trauma and then ancestral dragons.
[00:59:59] I'm [01:00:00] Palestinian. Oh my gosh. I feel like I probably have such crazy ancestral dragons just by being Palestinian. So it's super interesting. I can't wait to dive deep into knowing these dragons better, knowing the benefits and the negatives of having these dragons and how to overcome them. And if you want to know your dragons and how to overcome them, you can go to knowyourdragons.com and take Daniel's free quiz.
[01:00:23] That's knowyourdragons.com and you can take Dr. Daniel's free quiz to find out what your dragons are and how to overcome them. These dragons also relate to ants or atomic negative thoughts. Remember mind management is super important when it comes to getting rid of those ants. And one exercise. Dr. Daniel recommends is to write down 100 of your worst thoughts and then ask yourself five questions about each one.
[01:00:46] By the time you do this a hundred times, your aunts will hopefully disappear. Dr. Amen and I talked about mental and emotional health. We also touched on physical health. Dr. Amen has hundreds of brain scans of people that suffered from COVID-19 [01:01:00] and he says it could increase inflammation in the brain and typically leaves people at significantly higher risk of having anxiety, depression, brain fog, and irritability.
[01:01:09] Daniel says we have to love our brains. We have to be mindful of how we treat them. We can heal and optimize our brain health by eating healthy whole foods like brain superfoods, hemp seed, Brazil nuts, tumeric. We got to get adequate sleep. We have to avoid drugs and alcohol, and we can engage in stimulating coordination activities like ping pong or dancing.
[01:01:29] If you liked this episode and you want to learn more about mental health, go check out my YAP Live Conquering Invisible Enemies, featuring a slew of powerhouse people in this space like Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Amy Morin, and so many more. Here's the clip from that live episode.
[01:01:46] Guest: Yeah. If we think of one in four people being impacted by either depression or anxiety acutely and any given day.
[01:01:54] And part of that being driven by the fact that we're so lonely. We need to rethink how we can [01:02:00] physically interact with people and part of the problem I would argue. And part of the reason why I launched a lot of them, when you start up is to bring people together so they can start exercising again.
[01:02:09] I think the lack of physical activity. Is one of the real contributing factors here. So we're isolated, we're stuck at home, staring at a screen of electrons all day when we need to get back into our bodies and engage in some kind of aerobic activity, whether it's jogging or dancing or walking, or hiking, doing something in nature that will take us out of our minds, that trapped, where we might feel anxious or depressed and simply just start moving.
[01:02:33] And that will impact our health. So that's one of the things I tell you, I know coming full circle.
[01:02:39] Hala Taha: Again. If you want to learn more about mental health and get some tools and strategies to better your
mental health, go check out my YAP Live Conquering Invisible Enemies, featuring Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Amy Morin, and so many other powerhouses in this space.
[01:02:55] As always. I love to end this episode with a recent Apple Podcast review [01:03:00] dropping us an Apple Podcast. Review is the number one way to thank us at Young And Profiting Podcasts. And this week I want to shout out Gavin Hartling, he says the best career and life advice ever.
[01:03:10] The Young And Profiting Podcast with Hala Taha is perfect. If you're looking for easy to understand advice on business, life health, your mindset, and so much more, this podcast has become a morning ritual for me and gets me fired up for the day. Thank you so much, Gavin, for your awesome review. And I'm super happy to hear that you include YAP in your morning ritual.
[01:03:29] I feel like anybody who had listened to gap every single day and every single morning could change their life for the better, very quickly. If you'd like to be featured on Young And Profiting Podcasts, just drop us a five-star review on your favorite platform. And another thing that I love that you guys do to support the show is when you take a screenshot of this app, you upload it to your Instagram story.
[01:03:49] Tag me @yapwithhala. I'm going to repost it and then let's chop it up in the DMS. I'd love to hear from my listeners. I'd love to meet you. Follow you back, talk to you about what you like or dislike of the show. [01:04:00] I love to connect with my listeners. You can also find me on LinkedIn, just search for my name.
[01:04:05] It's Hala Taha. Big, thanks to the YAP team as always. This is Hala signing off.
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