Move forward with an attitude of gratitude. When it comes to staying mentally well, the most straightforward place to start is gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of your day, take an inventory of your wins, celebrate them, and then write a brief gratitude statement for each win. As you do this, you’ll be reminded that progress, not perfection, is the key to success.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Brian G. Brown of the Genesis Zone Advantage™.
Dr. Brian G. Brown, the “Gene Fatigue” Doc, is a functional & integrated practitioner, author, and international speaker. He leans into his 23 years of experience to help high-achievers naturally eliminate “gene fatigue” obstacles that lead to unresolved emotional and physical challenges, so they can optimize for higher achievement & live the life of their dreams.
Dr. Brian accomplishes this by focusing first on the genetic causes, which he calls the True Root Causes™. Through this lens, he can facilitate more precise and practical recovery and performance optimization using gene-centered nutrition & supplementation.
After an undiagnosed pediatric heart condition that nearly claimed his life and left him with extreme fatigue and a host of physical and mental health challenges, Dr. Brian developed the Genesis Zone Advantage™, an efficient 4-step formula to naturally resolve emotional and physical health challenges at their True Root Causes™. Powered by his proprietary formula, Dr. Brian has helped thousands overcome emotional and physical difficulties, reclaim energy, and optimize their life for high achievement.
Dr. Brian is the author of the forthcoming books Health Hijackers for Women and Health Hijackers for Men. Dr. Brian is a dynamic presenter whose insights have been featured on podcasts and stages before world audiences. He can be found in Medium, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, iHeart Radio, and forthcoming in BuzzFeed & Entrepreneur Magazine.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Though most of my childhood was spent in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, I recall living in south Mississippi for a brief time during middle school. We lived in Jackson, Mississippi on Ross Barnett Reservoir, which is quite hilly compared to the flatter-than-pancake Mississippi Delta. Thanks to those hills, I learned to ride a skateboard.
During my family’s time at the reservoir, I got my first job delivering newspapers for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. I’d have to get up at 4:30 a.m. each day to start my route. Even though I’m not an early morning person, it taught me how responsibility and hard work builds character.
It was also during our time there that the area received a record snowfall of six inches. Snow of any kind is highly unusual in the South, but to a middle school student, who’d seen nothing more than a dusting of snow his entire life, it may as well have been six feet. I can recall it like it was yesterday. Being the consummate adventurer, I can also remember attempting to ice skate on a pond and falling through. Thank goodness the water only came up to my waistline.
Though I was only in Jackson, MS for just over a year, I have fond memories of my time there that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
From an early age, I had recurring respiratory problems. Maybe the respiratory issues were due to living with smokers or the high exposure to farm chemicals all my life.
On top of these, an electrocution injury at age five led to a heart rhythm disturbance that nearly killed me as an adult and led to a host of other health challenges like depression, anxiety, brain fog, low energy, and weight gain up to 390 pounds.
Sprinkle in a lot of natural curiosity for deciphering puzzles and always wanting to answer the question why, and I guess you’ve got a perfect recipe for someone whose career path chose him.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I honestly believe that I have the most fantastic office staff a person could ever want. Without them, this journey would not be possible.
There’s not a single person who works for me who isn’t a client first. This relationship fosters a strong sense of belief in everything we do for our clients. It also allows us to be keenly mission and vision-focused at a whole new level.
Realistically, I’m aware that having staff members who are clients first may not be achievable long term, but for now, it has been one of the best gifts a business owner could receive.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Early in my transition from mainstream medicine to functional and integrative medicine, I operated under the fear and illusion that I needed a business partner to succeed. After nearly two years of operating in the red, we mutually parted ways.
Within 60 days, I’d turned the company around and was operating in the black. Since that time, I’ve never looked back.
The moral of the story is never doubt your strength or vision, never make decisions out of fear, and be hypervigilant about eliminating scarcity-thinking.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Anyone interested in optimizing mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing would be well-served by reading James Nestor’s book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. At its base form, he explains how the science of proper breathing is the original biohacking strategy. In his own words, “the greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.”
I’ve utilized breath-work with clients for optimizing human performance. In more recent years, I’ve added the nutritional support of genes to breath-work. Both have resulted in a positive compounded effect on higher peak performance that’s unparalleled to either one alone.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.
– Tony Robbins
I’ve heard it put another way, “The distance between dreams and reality is action.”
This quote is significant because many in society possess knowledge and dreams of optimizing wellness. The issue is they don’t apply what they know. If wisdom is knowledge applied, then by definition, they lack wisdom.
The desire I have for all my clients is that they have massive dreams and abundant knowledge of optimal wellness, but they’re also wise action-takers.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
For several years, I’ve focused on nutritionally supporting genes and their impact on optimal performance. What I’ve found is a key to unlocking hidden imbalances that mainstream medicine and complementary & alternative disciplines miss.
Unlocking hidden imbalances allows for the resolution of challenges within days or weeks instead of months. And, it allows for positive changes to remain in effect longer. I call this the Genesis Zone Advantage™ because it starts at the origin of your physical makeup.
When you were created in your mother’s womb, you received half your DNA from your mother and half from your father. These genes are like light switches. Some bad switches are turned on, and some good switches are turned off.
The physical and chemical processes that these switches control cause or prevent many of the challenges you have. By merely giving genes the proper nutritional support, we can get the switches turned in the right direction.
Getting genetic switches turned in the right direction means that you feel better, have more energy, have a better mood, have less anxiety, think more clearly, have better stamina and endurance, sleep better, and ultimately live a fuller, healthier life.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series, we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
It’s easy to assume that mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness are separate entities. In some ways, they are, but in many ways, they’re not. It may be easier to think of it like this. Mental wellness is the umbrella that is held up by physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
For the sake of this interview, it’s undoubtedly more comfortable to discuss them separately. Still, in my mind, they are inseparable, just as your breath is no less important than the red blood cells that attach to oxygen and your heart that circulates them to deliver the oxygen to your body’s tissues.
As one final point of clarification, mental wellness and emotional wellness are easily confused one for another. Emotional wellness is more universally-focused and deals with empathy, emotional intelligence, and emotional regulation. It’s more or less how you respond to the world and people around you.
Being the master umbrella that is composed of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, mental wellness is not to be confused with mental health or disease management for conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia. From the wellness-standpoint, it’s more singularly-focused on your relationship with yourself and how you process information.
Here are three good habits that can lead to optimal mental wellness.
In my 23 years of experience, I’ve met people who struggled to give gratitude for anything in their lives, held onto unforgiveness, considered themselves a victim versus a thriving human being, or honestly had no concept for why they wanted or needed a wellness strategy. Living like this can spell disaster no matter who you are and will almost certainly lead to self-destruction and/or self-sabotage.
- Move forward with an attitude of gratitude. When it comes to staying mentally well, the most straightforward place to start is gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of your day, take an inventory of your wins, celebrate them, and then write a brief gratitude statement for each win. As you do this, you’ll be reminded that progress, not perfection, is the key to success.
- Choose to forgive quickly. I’ve worked with too many high achievers in the past who harbored unforgiveness toward themselves or others, and it kept them just out of arm’s reach of success. Forgiveness doesn’t mean “forgive and forget.” To forget means asking for “situational-dementia,” which predestines us to repeat our past.
It is possible to forgive and not forget. Letting go of unforgiveness and offense is as easy as making an active decision to let it go. Often, this is not a “one-and-done” scenario either. If the offense is big enough, it may require a daily choice to let go. Regardless, you are in control of the choice to let go.
- Know your why and make it big enough to sustain you. The six-inch space between a person’s ears determines a person’s success more than 80% of the time. We are our own worst enemy. We set ourselves up for failure, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. And, too often, it boils down to not having a big enough WHY.
At a base level, we must ask why we want X, Y, or Z in our life. Why do we want better relationships, weight loss, business growth, or better mental or emotional wellness?
Our WHY is the motivating factor and the driving force we need for seeing our mission through to the end. But, on the most challenging days, it’s the super-sized why that will sustain us. Here’s a tip. Tie your why into an emotionally strong hook, and I mean powerful hook.
Here’s an example from a client of mine. “If I don’t get my health under control and I become disabled or die, my twin sons will be raised by their father, who was physically and sexually abusive to me in our marriage. That can’t happen. I won’t let it.”
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
In this area, I’m kind of eclectic. I enjoy Tai Chi, Yoga stretching, rowing, cycling, breath work, spending time in prayer, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. These things are meditative to me and interwoven into the fabric of my life.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
The number one habit for optimizing physical wellness is hydration.
Men should drink 3–4 liters of water per day, and women should drink 2–3 liters of water per day. These are minimum requirements. If you’re one of those who says, “I don’t like water,” there’s a good reason this is happening. Your natural thirst drive has been turned off.
To get the natural thirst drive reactivated, you’ll have to force yourself to drink water. Once it reactivates, you’ll naturally crave water. For some, this may only take a few days. For others, it may take a few weeks.
The number two habit for optimizing physical wellness is getting the right amount of quality sleep every night.
Sleep requirements vary from one person to the next, but quantity isn’t enough. Science is telling us that the quality of sleep probably matters more.
If you want to significantly improve your sleep, I recommend tracking your sleep. Tracking will give you the best insights into how to modify your sleep. There are plenty of biometric measuring devices on the market today. Look for one that breaks down your sleep into various stages.
Pay specific attention to the delta wave, or deep, sleep. Though it can range from 0–35% of your total sleep, the average adult should spend about 15–20% of their night in this deep stage. That’s about 1–1.5 hours.
Here are some things that can help ensure you get quality sleep.
- Avoid eating within two hours of going to bed.
- Avoid heavy evening meals altogether.
- Avoid alcohol within 4–5 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine within 6–7 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid screen exposure within 1–2 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid long afternoon naps.
- Exercise regularly.
- And keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
The number three habit for optimizing physical wellness is purposeful movement.
Too many people fall victim to one of the biggest myths I see perpetuated regularly. They say, “I walk at work, so I get plenty of exercise.” In this instance, the movement is not purposeful. Sure enough, it’s “movement” and is certainly better than sitting behind a desk all day. It’s just not designed to elevate the heart rate and keep it elevated for a sustained period, which is where the wellness benefit arises.
For those who sit at a desk all day, research shows that this is proving to be worse than cigarette addiction.
Purposeful movement is critical to reversing the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle. When you sit behind a desk all day, you have to be hypervigilant and intentional about moving your mass! Try not to overthink it. Purposeful movement can be as simple as taking a 20–30 minute walk.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I’m glad you asked about healthy eating because that would’ve been the fourth habit for optimizing physical wellness in the last question. In my clinical experience, the main blockage I’ve found regarding practicing what we know is self-sabotage via lack of mindfulness. For most, this is carried out subconsciously as if on autopilot.
How many times have you rushed through eating, and by the next meal, you’re unable to recall what you ate previously? How many times have you sat mindlessly eating in front of our computer, watching TV, listening to a podcast, or reading? How many times have you eaten foods that leave you more hungry within an hour of eating as if you never ate?
Most of us are simply too distracted. We ignore our food and don’t give eating the dedicated physical space it deserves. Within four hours of eating, we couldn’t tell you what it smelled like, what it looked like, what color it was, or how it even tasted if our life depended on it. And, we do all of this while attempting to multitask.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we choose foods that don’t meet our body’s energy demands, and we overstimulate the pancreas to release too much insulin, which makes us feel hungry all the time.
These blockages are easy to overcome. Purposefully choose to set aside dedicated time to eat undistracted. Choose to activate all your senses when eating, paying attention to your food’s appearance, smell, and taste. Lastly, choose to incorporate foods that don’t overstimulate insulin, e.g., staying away from processed foods, fried foods, refined sugars, and overdoing it with starchy vegetables and over-processed grains.
Making these changes is a work in progress for most people. Be patient with yourself, choose to incorporate one recommendation at a time, and then move onto the next one.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Limit your exposure to negative energy. Too often, we subject ourselves to a steady diet of negative emotional energy. Just as eating a regular diet of processed junk food can have horrible health consequences, consuming a diet high in negative energy can have disastrous mental wellness consequences.
The first step for limiting your exposure to negative energy is to place yourself on a media diet. Simply stop watching and listening to the news! And yes, this includes those beloved social media platforms and chat rooms that suck you into their negative vortexes.
I learned from a mentor of mine nearly 23 years ago that if the news is important enough for you to know, you’ll hear about it from those around you. The key is this. When you stop watching or listening to the news, you’re no longer a passive bystander who’s subjecting themselves to repeated trauma and negativity.
Learn to set healthy boundaries. Typically, concerning healthy boundaries, two challenges repeatedly arise. The first challenge comes with a healthy use of the word “no.” The second is prioritizing self-care. Both are closely related because learning to say “no” in a healthy, balanced way assures that self-care is prioritized. Emotionally, saying “no” is one of the most beneficial skills you can develop.
Some will say “yes” to pretty much everything, but doing so means saying “no” to self-care. These people have boundaries that are too loose. Inversely, others are good at saying “no” to appropriate boundary violations in their personal lives, but they also say “no” to self-care. These people have boundaries that are too rigid.
Here’s the take-home message. Self-care is not selfish. You must prioritize self-care. It’s critical to not only your survival but also to the survival of those around you. It’s just like the pre-flight instructions we’re given at takeoff, “If there’s a loss of pressure, a mask will fall from the ceiling. Please place the mask on yourself before helping the person next to you.”
Martyrdom is not sexy! Take care of yourself so you can have the strength, agility, endurance, and fortitude to carry out your vision and mission and subsequently have a massive positive impact on others.
Choose to release anger. There is a lot of anger in the world right now, and research proves it. A recent Gallup Poll found that 20% of Americans struggle with significant amounts of anger all the time; that’s one in five of your family, friends, and neighbors. A Harvard Medical School study revealed that ⅔ of our nation’s teens struggle with anger to the point of verbally lashing out at others, throwing objects, breaking objects, or punching walls. And a AAA Study showed that 80% of American drivers had experienced anger that led to road rage at least once in the past year.
Roman philosopher, Cicero, said it best, “Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body.” Unhealthy anger is a disease of the soul, but too often, we’re not even sure what we’re angry about.
When you’re in the heat of the moment, take the focus off of the anger. It’s a natural emotion, so in all likelihood, you don’t have an anger problem. You have a problem choosing what to do with the emotion of anger.
To gain some self-perspective, rate yourself on a scale of 1–10 on how irritable/angry you are, then ask yourself these questions:
- What am I angry about?
- Why am I really angry?
- Where is this anger genuinely coming from?
- Who hurt me? Am I angry at someone?
- Is someone merely angry with me, and I’m reacting negatively to that?
- Am I angry at a situation?
- What is this anger revealing about my emotional wellness?
- What is this anger doing to my physical wellness?
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
Smiling improves emotional wellness, but this benefit extends to those on the receiving end and the giving end. However, research tells us that brain wave and neurochemical response benefits occur least with the Mona Lisa-type of a smile, better with a broad ear-to-ear smile, and best with a good old belly laugh. Additionally, forced laughter and forced smiling have good effects, but natural laughter and natural smiling come out on top every time.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Firstly, treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s the golden rule. It’s short, sweet, and straightforward. There’s little more to add other than a simple acronym I learned from a mentor of mine, H.O.P.E. It stands for “help one person every day.” It’s that simple.
Secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. You may be thinking, “Isn’t this the same as ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’?” Not quite. It’s one thing to love your neighbor. It’s an altogether different ballgame to love another person as you love yourself. It implies that you have to have a healthy and robust love of yourself before you can adequately love another. Maybe this is what’s wrong with the world today. Perhaps we have too many people who don’t know how to love themselves.
Prayer would be my final habit, and it yields positive outcomes. I recall a study that I read several years ago. The authors discussed active participation in prayer among cancer patients and how it improved survival rates among those who participated. A short time later, other studies were published that looked at remote or intercessory prayer for ill patients. In one study, heart patients in cardiac intensive care units (CICU) had shorter CICU stays and better overall outcomes. In another study, patients with blood infections (sepsis) had shorter hospital stays and got rid of fever faster with intercessory prayer. In both instances, the patients receiving remote prayer didn’t know it was happening.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
For me, being in nature affirms how connected I am to all living things and how beautiful all living things are. It also reminds me how small I am in the broadest scope of our world and the universe. And, I find it quite freeing to be in nature because it reminds me that “control,” at least as I view it in my little corner of the world, is little more than an illusion most days. I guess you could say it keeps me balanced and centered.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
In the past few years, technology has taken giant leaps in nutrigenomics, the study of the interaction between nutrition and genes. Even though the field is in its infancy, I’ve been able to use these principles to help people reach higher achievement levels within weeks by only nutritionally supporting their genes. Previously, positive changes of this magnitude would’ve taken months.
Now, we can identify imbalanced genes and support them nutritionally, positively affecting mood, anxiety, energy, detoxification, inflammation, and cellular function. Imagine if it were routine practice to identify a person’s propensity for developing depression or anxiety in earlier life stages. We could then put a customized plan in place to nutritionally support their genes so that they never had issues with those conditions.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I’d love to sit down and share a meal with Dr. Mehmet Oz.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Here’s how people can get in touch with me:
On the web: www.drbriangbrown.com
On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drbriangbrown/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.griffin.brown
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drbriangbrown
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drbriangbrown/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/drbriangbrown
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.