Building wealth is in many ways about habits and mental discipline, in other words it is mostly in our heads. It is what happens in our brains that is a key factor in our ability to save, control impulse, stay calm while the market fluctuates, be disciplined and focused, etc. The most successful investors and behavioral researchers will tell you this. The modern media story line will tell you building wealth is about having a fancy job title, a certain kind of image and inventing the next Facebook or world changing technology. Wrong! Those of us like me (ordinary folks,) have every chance to build a truly wealthy life and I believe much of this starts with the health of our brain. We do not need to be movie stars, tech titans or any number of over achiever that hit a lucky break in order to have healthy minds that create wealth.
Go along with me for a minute before you think this is silly. On one of our regular trips to the free public library, my wife picked up a book titled The Brain Warrior’s Way by Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen. I have seen Dr. Amen appear several times on our local public television station and I think his work is fascinating and very important. He has many books out on brain health and I find them all informative and inspiring. He basically illustrates how all our health and quality of life starts with a healthy brain. I would say that having a healthy brain is directly connected to our ability to create wealth, save and invest. With a healthy brain we make better decisions, we are calmer, we are more focused, all hallmarks of investment success.
This book by Dr. Amen resonated with me because one of the reasons we called our group The Money Vikings is because building wealth is a kind of battle and it helps to be a smart viking warrior. Each day there are forces at work attempting to separate you from the money you work so hard for, and that is just the beginning of the battle. There are also internal enemies to your own brain that will work against your best intentions of saving and investing.
From Dr. Amen:
“When you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, every day can feel like a battle. Forces are destroying our bodies and our minds. The standard American diet we consume is making us sick; we are constantly bombarded by the fearmongering news media; and we’re hypnotized by technical gadgets that keep us from our loved ones…But you can win the war. You can live your life to fullest, be your best, and feel your greatest. The key to victory rests between your ears.”
Here are some highlights from Dr. Amen’s research that could help a lot of people. And I believe these actions could help us build wealth for the following reasons: A healthy brain makes less impulsive decisions. Having a healthy brain leads to clearer thinking and higher energy levels, maximizing our income producing potential. A healthy 🧠 could reduce health care costs for us and our family. I think my future wealth depends on having a healthy brain.
So what can we do to help create a healthy high functioning brain? One more thing, this is not psycho babble hocus pocus, Dr. Amen shows scans of healthy brains that are smooth and even all around. The unhealthy brains (for example the brain of an alcoholic or a person addicted to drugs) show unevenness, deep dark pockets and areas that are disfigured and not connected. You can actually see with your own eyes what an unhealthy brain looks like!
Dr. Amen talks about the “Standard American Diet” or aptly created acronym SAD. This diet is:
- Highly processed, so foods are stripped from nature
- Pesticide sprayed
- Artificially sweetened
- High glycemic, loaded with carbs and starches that spike our blood sugar
- low fiber
- laden with hormones
- tainted with antibiotics
This is a recipe for sickness, disease and death. That to me sounds like the opposite of a life filled with True Wealth. The good news, having a healthy brain seems very much in our control. We can make daily choices that add up to a very healthy brain over time. Here is how I would boil down Dr. Amens advice:
A variety of vegetables, fruits, fish and lean meats, etc. Go for optimal fats: Avocado, cocoa butter, fish, coconut, grass fed meats, nuts, olives and seeds.
Avoid harmful fats: Industrial raised animal fats, processed meats, trans fats, safflower, corn, soy and canola.
Go for a colorful assortment of vegetables and fruits. When I say color I do not mean “fruit loops”, bad!
TWO: Sleep & Rest
THREE: Limit alcohol, drugs and caffeine
FOUR: Build healthy intimate relationships
FIVE: Get aerobic exercise, walking, moving, dancing, yoga, etc.
SIX: Manage stress, meditation, etc.
I would argue that if a person is working to manage their health, then they have the skill set to manage their finances. It is all about small incremental efforts that add up to great value and results over time. So again, there is no all or nothing in life, life can be too frantic and random. We have to do the best we can each moment. So maybe I am not doing all these things right, but I can get up the next day and try to have a healthy breakfast, take the stairs, choose a healthy salad as a snack, drink more pure water, etc. I can say no to harmful things. Think about how easy that can actually be, saying no to a very unhealthy food choice or a toxic person. Say no and move on with your day, this might pave the way to saying yes to the healthy stuff.
An investment in your health is very similar to an investment in an asset. Actually in a lot of ways it can be even better, because the health investment pays off almost instantly. Think about the way you feel after you go on a walk or are in nature or do a jog. I feel great! Think about the way you feel when you eat a healthy meal, you may feel energized and satisfied. An unhealthy meal may make a person lethargic, tired and moody. With a monetary investment you have to wait longer, but I think they are connected.
When a person has a healthier brain, there are several advantages to their finances:
Less inclined to make poor financial decisions
Less inclined to do “retail therapy”
Higher self esteem could result in better productivity and recognition at work
Clear mental focus and perhaps creativity, leading to more income producing behavior
Lowered health care costs over the long run can save a person a lot of money
One last thing, it is never too late if your alive. He has shown how people can transform their brain health by making improvements in their habits and decisions. I am sure there are many more benefits. Or perhaps a person just simply wants to feel better and think more clearly. Whatever your reasons, I would recommend picking up any of Dr. Amen’s books.
This is not health advice tailored to any individual, please see your personal health professional for advice.