7 Secrets to a Healthier Brain and a Happier YOU
America is unhappy. In fact, we are the unhappiest we've been since the Great Depression, and things show no signs of getting better. Did you know that depression (the disorder, not the economic kind)—which was at epidemic levels even before the start of COVID-19—tripled in just a matter of months once the pandemic hit? Suicide rates are rising among many populations, and Americans seem to have lost hope. Now for the good news: There is a way out, and it starts in your brain.
Recently, JJ spoke with her friend Dr. Daniel Amen about his new book, “You, Happy,” and why he chose to write it now. Dr. Amen is one of America's leading psychiatrists, and he is on a mission to end mental illness by creating a revolution in brain health. He told JJ that there is a neuroscience to happiness and that it is a daily practice. And, he shared with her what he calls “the 7 neuroscience secrets to becoming 30% happier in just 30 days.”
We all want to be happier, especially nowadays. Whether we're still reeling from the fallout of a major pandemic or simply struggling to get by in our daily lives and relationships, finding happiness during tough times can be a challenge. And when we aren't working with a strong foundation of health? It can be even harder.
Listen as Dr. Amen and JJ discuss the 7 things you can do starting right now to build a strong foundation of happiness—beginning with preserving the physical health of your brain by adopting positive diet and lifestyle habits. From there, Dr. Amen explains how everyone's brain is different, and you'll find out how to take a unique brain assessment quiz to determine how happy you are and how to use targeted strategies to increase your joy.
Dr. Amen has been a guest on Ask the Health Expert many, many times over the years, and every time JJ talks to him she is blown away with his incredible knowledge and insight. Don't miss learning about his 7 key strategies that will help you be happier and live longer!
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ATHE_Transcript_Ep 446_Dr Daniel Amen
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Welcome. And thanks so much for joining me. This is ask the health expert here. I put the power of health in your hands and give you access to the top. People in health and wellness. In each episode, I share safe ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more. So if you wanna get healthy and get off the dieting for life merry-go-round, I'll give you strategies that will help you look and feel better.
I have one of my favorite people back on the show for, I don't know, maybe fifth, sixth, seventh time, because he is a crowd pleaser. Yes. I have Dr. Daniel Amen with me. And I have known Daniel for gosh, 20 plus years. I actually sought him out and went to an event I knew he'd be [00:01:00] at so I could meet him in person because I wanted him his help with my son grant.
And he was in my documentary. You are stronger than you think. Talking with grant about the spec scans, he had pre and post grants accident and, and what he could do to get better. So he was one of the key reasons grant was able to get better, actually visited me with his wife, Tana in the hospital with grant.
So I have quite a warm place in my heart for Dr. Daniel Amen. Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is gosh, he's one of America's leading psychiatrists of brain health experts. If not the leading psychiatrist, he has authored a co-authored nine professional book chapters, 85 scientific articles of more than 40.
Books, including New York times mega best seller change your brain, change your life. He's appeared on numerous television shows, including Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, the doctors, today show, good morning America. And the view and his public television shows have been aired more than [00:02:00] 130. Thousand times across north America seen by millions of viewers where he's taught on memory, attention, mood, nutrition, and more.
In fact, the Washington post has called him the most popular psychiatrist in America. And he has these incredible aiming clinics. That is where I took my son. And actually after my car accident, I went as well. That sees over 8,500. A month and he has really brought functional brain scans to the forefront.
He's done over 200,000 scans now, as well as he's appeared in movies, including including quiet explosions after the last round in the crash reel and was a consultant for the movie concussion starting will Smith. He has also appeared on the Emmy award winning show. The truth about drinking. And he's been featured in Newsweek time.
Huffington post ABC, world news, 2020, BBC London, Telegraph parade magazine, New York times, New York times magazine, Washington, post LA times. Men's health, bottom line and cosmopolitan, and on the, [00:03:00] ask the health expert podcast. All right. So I am so happy to have Dr. Daniel Amen with me today. We will be right back to dig into how to be you.
Dr. Daniel. Amen. You're back. I was trying to think. How many times have you been on the show? A lot. A lot. And I'd have you every week. If I could, because you are a crowd pleaser and always with the latest, greatest information, you know, it just, you just, you just keep reinventing and I am really excited about this book.
Seems like perfect timing for it, but I'd love to know what made you decide to write you happier.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, when I saw the statistics that we are the unhappiest [00:04:00] we have been since the great depression that I'm like, oh no, we need a way out. And so I wrote what was really my way out of this disaster that we are in depression was at epidemic levels before the pandemic tripled in just a matter of months.
We know now it's doubled in children. Suicide is at a level I've never seen. I've been a psychiatrist for 40 years and It it's horrifying, but there's way out that there's actually a neuroscience to happiness. It's a daily practice. And if you can understand these seven secrets and I call them secrets because all the books on happiness, they're not talking about the idea that brain health is the foundation of happiness, [00:05:00] and it has to be geared to your.
Type that everybody's got a different brain and what makes some people happy, makes other people miserable. And so let's stop with the one size fits
JJ Virgin: everyone. Well, that makes a ton of sense before we go there. Cuz now of course I have to know the seven secrets. Why beyond just what's happened over the last two years.
Like what has created this unhappiness epidemic?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well the last two years for sure. But we were
JJ Virgin: besides that, cuz it sounds like we're already on our
Dr. Daniel Amen: way. I just started a new series on TikTok. You know, I have a million, 300,000 TikTok followers. It's no kidding to me and I figured it out for anybody.
Who's watching the wants to be on TikTok is write down a hundred. Of the things you say all the time, like you say the same [00:06:00] things all the time, like the three bite rule and, you know, do it in 30 to 60 seconds and that's what people want. They want snackable content. And I just, but I just started a series on Instagram called if I was an evil ruler and I wanted to create mental illness, what would I do?
Well, I'd basically create American society. 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy and in large
JJ Virgin: part it's. And well, that study was before the pandemic. And it was before
Dr. Daniel Amen: the pandemic and you know, the amount of obesity in teenagers and young adults skyrocketed during the pandemic because they were stuck at home.
They couldn't go to the gym and you know, DoorDash was the big winner so if I was an evil ruler, I'd create the food. We have in the United States. And if I was [00:07:00] really an evil ruler, so I think this is evil ruler genius. And I, my wife tells me I always get in trouble when I pick on the girl Scouts is I'd have little girls selling sugar and bad food.
Oh boy. Population. Because this is not good for you. You have to read the label of the Samoas and the peanut butter cookies. And there's so many, there's 62 evil ruler strategies. Going to talk about our society is built for illness. Not. And I was talking to a friend of mine. Who's from Mexico city and we were talking about the drug cartels and how they're just damaging Mexico.
And I'm like, well, we have our own drug cartels here. And the big winner in the pandemic is the pharmaceutical industry. Yeah. We just have
JJ Virgin: the government supporting them outright government,
Dr. Daniel Amen: supporting them. The anti-anxiety medications [00:08:00] which are addictive and cause dementia are up 34%.
Anti-depressants are up 20%. It's insane how we are. This is not happiness. This is dependence. This is sadness. This is brain fog. And, you know, the other thing JJ I've seen is COVID damages the brain. So I, I'm not a COVID denier. My dad actually died in part from COVID. And what we've seen on scans, cuz that's what we do at Amen clinics.
We do imaging it's like a little bomb goes off. In the brain and it causes inflammation. Now that's not to say the vaccines can't do the same thing, but with 140 million Americans exposed to COVID. If you get it over the next six months, you have a 20% increased risk of being diagnosed with mental health challenge, anxiety, depression, O C D [00:09:00] even.
We're seeing psychosis with this.
JJ Virgin: What's your risk. If you weren't, that's a 20% increased. So the people, so it's not just that people are stuck at home and all of that. This is 20% above everybody else already being diagnosed because of everything going on. Right. Okay. So just the fact that you had COVID okay, so this is painting quite a bleak picture.
So, so which probably is making people more unhappy. So I know that , that you must have done all this research. If you knew there was a way to reverse it. Otherwise that would just be the book called you unhappier, right? so the way
Dr. Daniel Amen: out is one. Realize that happiness and seeking happiness is a moral obligation.
And why do I say that? It's actually from a video by Dennis Prager I love called why be happy? And [00:10:00] I grew up Roman Catholic and, and I'm grateful for my Catholic education, but I can guarantee you that idea that happiness is a moral obligation was nowhere to be fat to my family. In the schools I went to in church.
No. But why is it a moral obligation because of how you impact other people? I can guarantee you, if you were raised by an unhappy parent, married to an unhappy spouse or raising an unhappy child, whether or not happiness is an ethical issue. And all of those people would say yes, so. It's not selfish to seek happiness.
It's altruistic. Now let me say that. Hedonism is the enemy of happiness. And one of the lies of happiness is I need more of something in order to be happy. Well, that's a lie. I mean, all of us know about celebrities who end up [00:11:00] killing themselves. They had plenty, but they didn't have happy. And. What makes you happy in large part depends one on the health of your brain.
I did a study for this book on 500 consecutive new patients in Amen clinics. We gave them the Oxford happiness questionnaire, and then we compared the happy group with the unhappy group and the unhappy group had unhealthy brains that they had overall lower blood flow to the brain. It's we're doing a new study on hope and it seems.
JJ Virgin: the same. Wow. So I would imagine exercise is gonna be a very important thing here.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Happiness. So for secret number one is the foundational secret of happiness is the physical health of your brain. So automatically you should be thinking exercise to increase blood flow to the brain and an anti-inflammatory diet, which also increases blood flow to your [00:12:00] brain.
And there's actually specific foods like beets and oregano and cayenne pepper that have been shown to increase blood flow along with cinnamon. And so. That's the first foundational secret. And this is why you should not let your children, especially girls hit soccer balls with their heads. It it's just insane.
What, it's another evil
JJ Virgin: ruler's trap. Well, but also like volleyballs, you know, my, my. Husbands kids are both volleyball players. And I started looking at volleyball and, and brain injuries. I'm like, oh my gosh, I, I wouldn't have thought volleyball. Right. But the head, you know, the ball's bang off their heads too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: well, and especially those people who are tall and who are at the net that they get whacked with the ball.
JJ Virgin: Do you know that Tim's son is now six, nine . Oh my we're like, where did that come from? Yeah, number one, volleyball recruit in the country. So I was like, all right, let's protect his [00:13:00] brain. It's too bad.
We can't put uh, and
Dr. Daniel Amen: I did a study on NFL players in my study had four times the level of depression is the general population. Isn't that crazy. So that secret number one gets your brain, right? Secret. Number two is target strategies to your brain type everybody's different. And I, over the years have created these 16 brain types that are basically based on five fundamental types, balanced.
I'll say anything will make you happy. You have a very healthy brain spine.
JJ Virgin: How many people do you see like that? About 30%
Dr. Daniel Amen: of our people. Wow. Now I don't know if their spouses would concur. Type two is spontaneous. That's my ADD group sleepy, frontal lobes. They love novelty and surprises. They're creative.
They hate routine. And easily distracted and often late type three is [00:14:00] our persistent type. They. Surprises. They love routine. They tend to worry and hold grudges and if things don't go their way, they get upset. But the thing that makes them happy is routine. The sensitive type that's type four, they love connection.
The pandemic was really hard on them. And type five is cautious. And their security freaks. So type two would love jumping out of an airplane and type five. There's just not going to happen. makes them sad. Makes them miserable. And so knowing your type then helps, you know, what supplements would be best for you, what behavioral strategies will be best for you.
And one of the things I ask people to do is look for the micro moments of happiness. What's the smallest [00:15:00] thing that happened today that made you happy. Like I have strawberry tea and I love strawberry tea. So. Just this taste well, and plus
JJ Virgin: you have a guy like you've got a mug, like a massive mug of strawberry tea.
that's a, so how, but this is gonna sound like a ridiculous question, but how do you know if you're really happy? Is it just obvious? Like, is there a thing that you say, oh, I'm that made me really happy? Well,
Dr. Daniel Amen: we did a 30 day happiness challenge and we actually gave people the Oxford happiness questionnaire and that.
Is a really good indication on whether or not someone is happy or not. It's rated on a scale of one to six. And if you're about four and a half, that's probably a good place to be. If you're six, that's actually a bad place to be because you're so happy you won't get anything
JJ Virgin: done. got it. So, all right, so you've got the types and the, what [00:16:00] you do lifestyle wise, supplement wise is going to
differ based on the type. Like I would personally like to jump out of the plane and don't wanna be in a routine that would make me crazy. And you know that already, cuz you know me you know, as you're describing these types, I'm like type two. Sounds great.
Dr. Daniel Amen: as long as you married three, cause if you're married to a type three, then you know, there's chronic conflict.
And if you know the type of your partner and people can learn their type brainhealthassessment.com, brainhealthassessment.com. They all right. We
JJ Virgin: will get all this brainhealthassessment.com. We're gonna put all this stuff in a, on a page so we can get you all linked up. We'll put 'em all in the show notes, cuz there's lots of good stuff going on here.
So the brainhealthassessment.com does that tell you which type you are?
Dr. Daniel Amen: It does. And also tell you how healthy. Your brain is likely to be. And, and is
JJ Virgin: that based on things like, you know, how you eat and your stress and your sleep and your, what you've done [00:17:00] historically sports wise environment or what's it based
Dr. Daniel Amen: on all of that and memory flexibility, focus, energy.
Yeah, it's really, it's only 38 questions. So it takes people five or six minutes to do, but it really gives you great information, including what your type is. And then based on your type, our secret three is you need to supplement your brain and my favorite happiness. Supplement is saffron.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. I saw that you sent me some of that.
So let's talk about saffron. I think of saffron of, of, and paella.
Dr. Daniel Amen: right. It's the world's most expensive spice pound for pound. It's more expensive than gold. But I created something called happy saffron because there are 24 randomized controlled trials showing it's equally effective to antidepressants.
Except rather than most antidepressants, which sort of knock [00:18:00] off your sexual drive and function saffron has been shown to improve it. Plus saffron has been. So we're just
JJ Virgin: keeping that out there as a secret because like, isn't that crazy? Oh my gosh.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So I'm a huge, and so I created happy saffron. In the dose used in the studies mixed it with zinc and curcumin, cuz both of those independently have been shown to enhance mood.
Now, part of it depends on your type and I think, I think we agree most everybody should take a really healthy, multiple vitamin high dose, high quality fish oil optimize your vitamin D level likely. A probiotic given the state of the food in our society. But then the supplement needs to be geared to your type.
So type two, we make something called focus and energy to pop up someone's frontal lobe type three serotonin mood support to calm down. Their frontal [00:19:00] lobes tend to work too hard saffron for all the types really, but it's masterful for the sensitive people and GABA for my cautious group. In fact, when I gave Tana Tana's the cautious group security oriented.
And she didn't find during the early parts of the pandemic, but when the societal unrest. Happened. She got very anxious and so I gave her we make GABA calming and she became so nice. It, it was shocking. It was lovely.
JJ Virgin: And I would imagine too, when someone's really got everything else dialed in.
Like the thing we can't do with supplements, because we gotta always remember the name supplements. Like you gotta get the diet and lifestyle and all, and the baseline foundational stuff. Then when you do these, these things like, like what you just saw can be amazing. And what gets me frustrated with supplement to someone's eating garbage, not sleeping, stressed out and they'll okay, I'm gonna try this thing.
I'm like, well, [00:20:00] hold on. You know, gotta get everything else on board here. How quickly do you see with the saffron? How quickly do you see? Cause you know, with antidepressants, you takes a while, right? Well, I was just with
Dr. Daniel Amen: my mother-in-law in Florida and she was telling me since the pandemic, she's feeling sad.
She's 75 and I'm like, well, I have happy saffron here. Cause I take it every day and I gave it to her. And within three days she said she felt much better. My assistant was feeling blue during the pandemic and I gave it to her. And two days later her son goes you're Humming. We should just put this in
JJ Virgin: the water.
Dr. Daniel Amen: well, I love it. And, you know, as opposed to the side effects that many antidepressants have this, you know, I've just not seen side effects. It it's
JJ Virgin: so crazy. The difference between drugs and side effects and supplements is like these supplements have these side benefits. right. You're like, and, and
Dr. Daniel Amen: people [00:21:00] go, oh, but you know, they could be dangerous.
Compared to medication. They are 66,000 times less dangerous. I mean, when you really look at the statistics and, you know, in medical school, they taught us first, do no harm, use the least toxic, most effective treatments. And, you know, I thought when I started imaging people and saw the biology of the mental health challenges, people saw, I'm like, oh, I'm gonna use more.
I in fact, use way less medicine, cuz I realize the brain is an organ. Like your heart is an organ. If I get you to eat right. And exercise and supplement and do secret number four, which is only love food that loves you
JJ Virgin: back. Amen. Dr. Amen.
Dr. Daniel Amen: we're in a relationship with food and I think both you and I have been in bad relationships.
In the past. And I I'm just, I refuse to do [00:22:00] that anymore. And you know, I'm married to my best friend and I'm damn sure not doing it with food.
JJ Virgin: Well, don't you think most people just have never connected the dots. They don't, they don't. And, and I'll give you my example of my darling, Bryce, Virgin, who? I said, Bryce, you know, whenever you eat pizza, you get a migraine.
Oh mom, that's not true. I'm like, oh yeah, I've been watching. I watch that's what happens, you know, and this was when he was late high school and I'd be out and a pizza would get ordered. I'm like, I, I can totally correlate it. And he goes off to college. He's so afraid that he's gonna miss college cuz of migraines that he stops eating gluten and dairy and never has another migraine.
It's like, okay.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that's what I want for my patients. I always say we're gonna do a master's course in. We're just gonna pay attention to what helps you be happy. And what makes you sad or what makes you [00:23:00] hurt or what makes you have digestive issues? And people can just start paying attention, but no, you are in a relationship.
With food. And I only wanna love things that love me back. You know, I did this big project in Saddleback church, the Daniel plan, and one of the pastor's wives told me she would rather get Alzheimer's disease than give up sugar. And my eyes got really big,
the bad boys.
You know, one of my favorite parts of the new book is secret number five, master your mind and gain psychological distance from the noise in your head. And I have a new exercise, where I talk about killing the ants and positive psychology I start every day with today is going to be a great day. I end every day with what went well today.
But what was new is give your mind a. Because this idea of [00:24:00] psychological distance from the noise, cuz you know, thoughts come from all sorts of places. They come from our genes, from the voices of our parents, our siblings, the news, the music you listen to social media and your thoughts. They just lie all the time.
If you can name your mind, then you can choose to listen to it or not. And were, I don't know if, were you any good at talking back to your parents when you were a teenager? A little
JJ Virgin: bit. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And you know, we have kids that talk back, but I was, I never learned to talk back to
JJ Virgin: myself. So what did you name your mind?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Her. Which is after the pet raccoon I had when I was 16 and I loved her I mean, literally I had a pet raccoon and but she was a troublemaker. She TP my mother's bathroom one day. She ate all the fish out of my sister. So
JJ Virgin: she, she did the things [00:25:00] you wanted to do. Sounds like.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well no, I never wanted eat the fish out.
My sister's aquarium. She'd leave raccoon poo around and it's just like my mind, it just stirs up trouble. And so now, because I have named my mind that when Herman gets outta control, I can put her in the cage or more recently, I'm like, oh, you wanna stir up trouble? So in my mind, I'll just put her on her back.
Cuz I used to do that and tickle her and play with. And it's like, you don't have to believe every stupid thing you think, and it's not the thoughts you have that make you suffer. It's the thought you attached to mm. Make you suffer. Cuz everybody Seinfeld once said the brain is a sneaky organ. We all have weird, crazy, stupid sexual violent thought that nobody should ever hear.
And just because you have a [00:26:00] thought has nothing to do with whether or not it's true or even whether or not you believe it. So it's really separating ourselves from. The monkey mind and our heads and happiness is literally not being attached to the negativity.
JJ Virgin: Good one. I was just thinking, as you was saying that, you know, one of the things that's happened as grant came out of his coma and, and really became, came back into his body and started to be able.
You know, articulate, et cetera, was his monkey mind was B, B, B, B. And he just thought that was all reality. I'm like, no, honey, everyone's got a monkey mind that says all this crazy stuff all the time. We all do that. You just, you know, it's not real and you don't have to act on all those things. Oh, so,
Dr. Daniel Amen: so what would you name your mind?
JJ Virgin: Well, you know, when you were first describing it, I'm like, I, it sounded like you, it, you described as someone you didn't like, but then when you described [00:27:00] it that way, I'm like, all right. I have to think of something that I always loved growing up. Like my, that was maybe fun. Although even my, even my younger, my younger self that was, I would call myself the bad ballerina.
Because I actually got in trouble right before a ballet recital and got in a little fight with another ballerina, which resulted in like hair pieces, flying and leaves and everything else, you know, we're five, right. my
Dr. Daniel Amen: mom's like, so, oh,
JJ Virgin: so the bad ballerina shows up. Yeah. It's probably the bad ballerina. Mm.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Doing this series on Instagram called scan my brain, where we take influencers, scan them and I evaluate them and we're just getting ready to publish Carrie Ann Inaba. The judge from dancing with the stars. And I love her so much.
We have a before and after series with her and she named her mind psycho, Sandy. Cause it could get [00:28:00] really out of control, but over time, you know, over the months that I've seen her, she's really made friends and she helps psycho Sandy settle down. So she doesn't need to murder her. She, she just needs to know, I can choose to listen or I can choose to not listen.
I have a police officer named his mind, Andy, after his pet parrot, because the parrot knew eight words. It was the same eight words over. And he goes, that's what my mind does. The same thing. You know, you're full, you're a failure. You'll never be better. And so now he said, when my mind starts to do that, I just metaphorically put the cover over
JJ Virgin: the, that is so good.
It's also good for people to hear because, you know, I think what grant was grant was sitting here thinking he was the only person who ever had these thoughts and I'm like, honey, we all do that all day. Every day. There's all this stuff going on. Like, [00:29:00] unless you start to be aware of it, right? I mean, it's just people, your, your brain's out there chattering
Dr. Daniel Amen: well, and ultimately happiness and mental discipline is a daily practice.
People don't understand that. Oh, I went to therapy. And it didn't work for me. It's like, but are you doing. Good psychological habits day in and day out. Right? You can't be 50 pounds overweight on Monday, have a salad and expect to be trim. Oh, come on. Right. right. I mean, that's just
JJ Virgin: silly. I think part of the challenge and I love the fact that there's also the happiness scales, cuz the challenge is, you know, you work out and you can go, wow.
Okay. I can, I can, you know, lift more than. Could a month ago you can quantifiably see differences. And so I've been meditating, which in, in itself is an amazing situation. I actually do this every single morning without fail. Just made the commitment. [00:30:00] And, but the challenge and I just want, you know, I'm gonna treat this, like going to the gym.
It took me a while to get, to start to get any kind of results at the gym. I'm not gonna see a difference in a week meditating. Like, like let's be. So I think the challenge with a lot of this is how do you quantify the change? How do you be able to shift the difference? Cuz I think I'm doing this and nothing's happening.
So why should I spend the time?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, so there are measurements like the Oxford happiness questionnaire. I have my patients rate. You know, whatever we're really working on, but typically it's their mood, their anxiety, their energy, and focus on a scale of zero to 10. Zero is awful. 10 is great. And then do these interventions and, well, let's see.
Are those numbers going up because if they're not going up, then it could be something else. It could be like COVID and you have an inflamed limbic brain. It could be your thyroids off. It could [00:31:00] be you have mold in your house. Right. And that's, I think really what's unique about my message and work is it could be your brain when you're doing the right things and your brain, and you're not getting the results.
It could be something else. Like, I don't know if you've noticed, but there's this epidemic of low testosterone in. You know, young men, particularly, I've never seen anything quite like it. And you know, is that the toxins we're putting on their bodies? Is it what? I mean,
JJ Virgin: there's so many things. It could be, it could be all as stress.
It could be the Xeno estrogens all over the place. Like there's so many different things that are going on that could be lowering testosterone. You're like, which one is. And it's all of them just like what's hurting your brain. Like it's all of these things together, right. So let's go to, so did we do number six?
We did [00:32:00] number five. Right? Number
Dr. Daniel Amen: five is mindset five, six. I love six so much is notice what you like about other people more than what you don't. If you want to be happy, you have to give it. Because it's in the active giving that you get to keep happiness. So when you give happiness away by noticing what you like more than what you don't, you're actually creating your own happy support group.
And so many people are focused on. What's wrong about their children or their partner or their boss or their coworkers. And if you notice that, and that's your primary thing you're paying attention to, you're actually gonna get more of that. You are reinforcing the behaviors that you notice. And so I collect penguins.
I actually have two of them behind me because when I was. When my son, who's now 45. When he was seven, he was hard for me. [00:33:00] He was argumentative and oppositional. And I was a child psychiatry fellow at the time, which means training to be a child psychiatrist. And I was talking to my supervisor and she says, you need to spend more time with him.
And so I took him to a place called sea life park in Hawaii on Oahu. And they had all sorts of cool sea animal shows. But at the end of the day, we went to the penguin show and the Penguin's name was fat Freddy, and he did all these amazing things, jumped through a hoop of fire, bold with his nose, counted with his flippers jumped off a high dive and I'm like, whoa.
And at the end of the show, the trainer asked him to go get so. and he goes and gets it and brings it right back. And in that moment, time stopped for me because when I asked Anton to get something for me, he doesn't want to do it. And. He wants to have a discussion about it for like 20 minutes. And I knew he was smarter than that penguin.
And so I went up to the trainer [00:34:00] afterwards and I said, how'd you get Freddy do all these really cool things. And no lie, she looked at my son and then she looked at me and she said, unlike parents, whenever Freddy does anything, like what I want him to do, I notice him. I give him a hug and I give him a fish and the light went on in my head that even though my son didn't like raw fish, my,
JJ Virgin: I was gonna say, so Anton got fish.
Dr. Daniel Amen: my daughter, Chloe actually loves sushi. So it would've worked for her. But even though he doesn't like raw fish, When he did the things I wanted him to do, I didn't pay any attention to him. Mm-hmm cause I was very much like my dad, I just sort of expected compliance and I noticed what was wrong. And so I collect penguins as a way to remind myself to notice what I like about people in my life.
And it is such a powerful technique. And, and I know, I mean, you [00:35:00] know, Tana, she has red hair. If, if I spent a lot of time noticing what I didn't like, I'd make her sad and mad and there are things I don't like, but that's not where I focus. I focus on how amazing she is and then she actually becomes more amazing.
You are powerful by what you pay attention to. And that goes nicely into seven, which is live each day based on clearly defined values purpose and goals because purposeful people are happier and they live longer. Now you gotta have the foundational stuff like brain health and brain type and supplements and right.
Food and disciplining your mind. But I find that this is just critically. Important that if you're Tony Robbins says happiness is progress. Well, you have to know where you are going, where you're going for your [00:36:00] health, for your wealth and for your relationships and work. So if I know that I want a kind caring, loving, supportive, passionate relationship with my wife, then every day I go, is my behavior getting.
What I want, as opposed to you are not doing this, you are not doing that, that victim mindset. You are gonna be unhappy, but it's like, no, this is what I want. What am I doing today to make that happen? And so the question, each of these secrets have a question, the question for seven, does it fit? Does my behavior fit the goals I have for my life?
And, and I think this is the one. Reason why I've been as successful as I've been. I've been very focused on, I've been telling my brain what I want and, and it's not selfish. Right? Cause most people I think [00:37:00] are like me and they want goodness in their lives. But does it fit? You know, if I was gonna get a tattoo, I don't have any yet.
I'm thinking about it. does it fit be one of the
JJ Virgin: first ones? I can't wait to see that one. .
Dr. Daniel Amen: Maybe
JJ Virgin: right on the top, Daniel with the tat I don't know. I don't know about that. I just . Hmm. Maybe try a henna one first just to try it on.
Dr. Daniel Amen: think I'll do it on my neck.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, just get a little wife beater shirt. Come back with a little henna tat.
That'll be great.
Oh, my gosh, this is such great, great information. It really feels like it lends itself to like, you know, again, you said you had a challenge, a course, a workbook, like there's just so much to dig in here with This. It's fantastic is definitely one that you're gonna wanna grab you happier. And I'm gonna put everything I know that you [00:38:00] have, you said you have a, you happier cookbook.
What, what what things should I put at the link where I'm gonna list everything everyone can grab. So you
Dr. Daniel Amen: happier If they order the book, Tana has a new cookbook.
JJ Virgin: Nice. They can download. Tana is an amazing chef. Holy smokes. Like she is incredible with what she can cook. Like there, you will never, ever complain that things don't taste good when you're eating healthy.
Any of that ridiculous whining. Has it's fantastic. So that's, that's super cool. I wanna put your assessment also the Oxford happiness score and your link to your saffron, your happy saffron. So we will get all of these things in one easy place so everybody can get it. We'll put it at jjvirgin.com/youhappier go.
Imagine that you happier. Cause I have so many, so many links for things of yours over the years. Gosh, I can't think of like a better time for this book to come out. I'd love to have you share a story of [00:39:00] someone. I think this is a great way to wrap it up. Someone who came in scoring low and was able to turn it around using your techniques.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So we did a 30 day happiness challenge on amen university. We had 32,000 people sign up. and every day we give them a short video, like six, seven minutes on one of the principles from the book. And at the end of 30 days, they were 32% happier. And not only that, their energy went up and their memory went up.
I was so excited and I have so many great stories, but one of them,
JJ Virgin: 32%. Could you imagine if that was a.
It would be right. you could patent. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You could patent the program. Maybe we should do that. But one [00:40:00] of our testimonials, she said I had no idea that I was responsible. For my happiness. I was always expecting other people to do it for me. And that's why I was dis and, and I just love that it's and she said, happiness is a habit.
It's a daily choice by the things you do. And the. That one gave me goosebumps. Yes. And another one who said, you know, my husband watched me do it and he started doing it too. And his relationship with our autistic son got so much better. Mm.
JJ Virgin: This is, this is big, big, big work. This is so good. It's it's like teary good.
Dr. Daniel Amen: we actually did the challenge at Amen clinics. I have 10 clinics around the country now, new one in Florida. Yay. And and brain MD. So [00:41:00] all of the units at Amen clinics and it was so fun. And then what they did is each team produced a video. For me on the impact that it made. So we're gonna try and take happiness into.
Businesses schools, churches. So good
JJ Virgin: daily practice. So good. It's so good. So good. Thank you so much for your time and for all your work. This is just fantastic. And I will do my part to get it out there as well. And for everybody listening, this one needs to be shared far and wide. So again, I'm gonna put all of the resources that Dr.
Daniel Amen talked about at jjvirgin.com/youhappier, you happier. And thank you again, so appreciate you and everything you do.
Oh my gosh. That was one of my favorite all time podcasts and one that I'm in. Ask [00:42:00] you to do me a favor with, please share this. I can't think of anything more important right now. And I'll tell you a little story. I've been going to Dr. Joe Dispenza workshops for the past year and a half. And the last one, when he talked about what would you love?
Like what would be the thing you'd wanna draw to you? And I go, you know, I just really wanna be happy and I'm listening to this going. And I was talking to, to, to Dr. Daniel Amen offline, and he goes, yeah, it, it really shifts things. When you hear that you have a moral obligation to be happy. Like this is, this is something that you wanna put at the forefront.
Think how many things shift just by doing this. So again, share this with your friends and reminder about all of the cool stuff I'm gonna have at JJvirgin.com/youhappier link to the book. You can get, Tana's amazing. You have your cookbook when you grab the book and also the link to Dr. A.
Questionnaire. And then the Oxford happiness [00:43:00] assessment. So all that will be in one place, making it easy, peasy for you. And, oh and, we'll put something about the U the happy saffron too. And again, thank you so much. And if you haven't subscribed yet, come on. I don't want you to miss anything. So subscribetoJJ.com and I'll see you next time.