Happiness Starts with Your Brain Type

Dr. Daniel Amen

Pair your brain type with neuroscience-based habits, rituals and lifestyle choices to increase your happy.



In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

“Americans are the unhappiest they have been since the Great Depression,” says Dr. Daniel Amen. But he’s determined to change that.

He’s a physician and double board-certified psychiatrist who looks at happiness as a brain function. After studying more than 200,000 brain scans of people from 155 countries, Dr. Daniel Amen discovered five primary brain types and seven neuroscience secrets that influence happiness.

“I wanted to spend my time and energy and research on happiness because, ultimately… happiness is a moral obligation because of how you impact other people,” Dr. Amen says. “The big central point [is] the brain is the organ of happiness, and if your brain is not healthy, you are not likely to be happy.”

What makes you happy? The answer lies in knowing your specific brain type and how it’s being influenced by seven specific chemicals.

“Brain health is central to happiness.”

Dr. Daniel Amen

Happiness originates in distinct brain regions: pleasure in the orbitofrontal cortex; motivation and habit formation in the basal ganglia; and mood and cognitive flexibility in the brain stem.

You may be one or a combination of these five primary brain types: (take this brain assessment to find out yours)

  • Balanced: you have a very healthy brain
  • Spontaneous: you have low dopamine
  • Persistent: you’re often worried, rigid, and inflexible
  • Sensitive: you need other people and isolation is hard
  • Cautious: your GABA levels are low

When you know your brain type and what’s making you, well, you, the rough edges of your day-to-day smooth out and you can live life with more ease. In the process, your relationships with others will improve, your happiness will grow and your sense of self will become stronger.

Learn more about brain types and what actually boosts your happiness according to neuroscience in Dr. Amen’s book, “You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type.”

Those seven secrets to happiness include things like brain health, targeted nutrients mindset and following a path that’ right for you.

“Happiness comes from moving your life forward toward your life goals with meaning and purpose, based on your values, despite whatever obstacles are in your way,” Dr. Amen says. “A happy life doesn’t focus on the past with regret or look to the future with fear.” 

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  • Dr. Daniel Amen who’s our guest today wrote a book many, many years ago, called Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.  – 1:22
  • Americans are the unhappiest they have been since the great depression.  – 3:14
  • Tell me about the kind of scan that you do at Amen clinics that’s source of data for your happiness book?  – 6:18
  • And it’s the difference between dripping dopamine or dumping dopamine.  – 10:49
  • How do you know if you’re sitting here listening to the show, “Jeez, is my oxytocin where it should be? Is my serotonin high enough? Am I dripping dopamine versus dumping dopamine?  – 13:43
  • They wanted to be together. It’s just how their brains work always got in the way.  – 19:24
  • Managed care was never about patients, it was about profit. And they’re like, “Psychiatrists are too expensive. Let psychiatrists do the medication and we’ll pay therapists to do the therapy.”  – 25:21
  • We’ve had about five million people take our brain health assessment. – 29:42
  • I filmed 30 short videos based on the content of the book. And we got 32,000 people to sign up, to take the 30 Day Happiness Challenge.  – 34:48
  • The first time I ever wrote about this technique I love called Give Your Mind a Name just so you can begin to separate from it.  – 38:01
  • Olympics are bad for the brain, because here are all these Olympics that have to be the best. That’s a prescription for unhappiness because you have to beat somebody.  – 44:01
  • I read a book called the Structure of Scientific Revolution and it helped me so much. And Thomas Kuhn wrote it in 1962 and he said, “Scientific revolution happens in five stages.  – 48:26
  • You talk about these three regions of the brain that are responsible for happiness in the book. The orbital frontal cortex, the basal ganglia and the brainstem.  – 58:49
  • I’m trying to keep your neurons as healthy as I can. And not only blood bring nutrients, but it takes away toxins. And if you don’t have good blood flow, you have more toxins in your brain.  – 1:04:30

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