Surviving & Thriving, Never The Victim. A phenomenon that I’ve noticed after years of clinical practice is that those who identify as surviving and thriving almost always have the highest optimized mental wellness. There’s no room for being a victim of your mind. This doesn’t mean that, by definition, you’re not a victim. The difference is that you do notidentify as a victim. Much like letting go of offense, this is an active choice that may need to be practiced daily.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, 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 doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Around age five, I was electrocuted. Apparently, in the early ’70s, no one thought to check a kid’s heart status after an electrocution injury, so I was treated for burns and sent home. Within the year, I was waking with my heart pounding, shortness of breath, and profuse sweating. Everyone thought it was night terrors.
I carried the “night terror” diagnosis well into my adult years, even though less than 1% of children carry this into adulthood. By my early 30’s, I began struggling with anxiety and depression, and by the time I’d finished my medical training, I was placed on Prozac. This would be the first of nine different depression medications over the next 16 years.
Out of frustration with a broken medical system and a burning desire to end the madness, I set out on a journey to find healing. I closed my office practice and began working on re-educating and re-skilling. It’s led me to where I am today. Now, my focus is on healing the body, starting at the genetic level.
Genes are like light switches that can be turned on or off. They’re the basic building blocks of life. Most people think of genes in a negative light, but the overwhelming majority of our genes positively impact our health and often balance out the negative influences.
The key is knowing which of your genes have positive versus negative effects so that you can implement a custom-tailored plan to support your genes positively. Then, once this is done, other aspects of the healing journey come more easily and quickly.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
At the height of my frustration with mainstream medicine and the lack of healing that had occurred in my body, I had decided to leave mainstream medical practice. The problem was, I didn’t know how to get out of the hamster wheel.
Within days of saying to myself, “I can’t do this anymore. I’ve got to get out,” I attended a cardiovascular conference in Boston, Massachusetts. In the keynote address, Dr. Ernst Schaefer went utterly off-script. A Big Pharma company was paying him big bucks to speak about their drugs. Instead, he talked about natural treatment alternatives for cardiovascular disease management.
What he said piqued my interest, so I approached him as he exited the stage. He told me that with time, he’d concluded that the body was designed to heal and optimize itself. He’d also concluded that it sometimes needed a bit of help to get unstuck. He’d learned that natural alternatives were the answer, not the Big Pharma “chemical soup” prescriptions that many are forced to take.
Noticing my interest, he told me about a colleague and friend who offered functional and integrated medicine courses. He encouraged me to look him up and check into taking one of his classes. I accepted Dr. Schaefer’s challenge, and the next week I was in Salt Lake City, Utah at his friend’s course.
I left the course in Salt Lake City with an illuminated pathway off of the hamster wheel. Within 30 days, I announced to my patients that I was closing my office.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I first started practicing, I had a blended practice; office, inpatient hospitalization, and nursing home. At least once per day, the funniest thing would happen when I saw patients in the nursing home. Fully adorned with a white lab coat and a stethoscope around my neck, I would walk into a patient’s room, and they would ask me, “Are you a preacher?”
For years, it made me uncomfortable, I would laugh nervously, and I would politely correct them. I later concluded this was a mistake. My take-away was this. To those at the end of life, a preacher, pastor, reverend, rabbi, or priest is a symbol of comfort in times of distress. Who was I to take that away from them?
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Hands down, without my wife, I wouldn’t be where I am today. We married at age 19 and 20 and put each other through college and graduate school. She’s been my number one cheerleader encouraging me through all of my educational, professional, and entrepreneurial endeavors.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
To my colleagues in mainstream medicine who’ve been practicing for at least ten years, there’s a high possibility that you are burned out. So the question is this, “How do you stop the burnout cycle?” The answer, you get out of the hamster wheel.
Einstein was credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” Regardless of who said it, there’s a lot of truth here. Many busy professionals live in an endless loop of insanity.
As medical professionals, we’ve invested a lot of time and money into our education, so getting out of the hamster wheel seems daunting.
The best advice I can give is to make self-care a top priority. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will be there to care for others?
Lastly, allow yourself to think outside the box regarding your continuing medical education (CME). Mainstream medicine is notorious for shackling us with blinders that make us focus only on what’s inside the box.
Take the blinders off and get some CME’s in an alternative medicine field; acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, bio-identical hormone replacement, functional medicine, or naturopathy. These are but a few examples of the limitless possibilities from which to choose.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Two things come to mind. For some, this first one may not be practical, but for many, it will be. Every single one of my staff is a product of the product. Being in the functional and integrative medicine space, all of my team members were clients before coming to work for me.
Culturally, having staff who were clients first sets an excellent tone for interoffice interactions and client interactions. It conveys a depth of empathy and understanding of processes that’s unparalleled in standard-hire situations. So, when possible, I encourage you to foster an environment where staff can be a product of the product.
Secondly, coming out of the first COVID year in 2020 has taught us a lot about work culture adaptation. I had been moving in the direction of telehealth for several years, but the rest of my team worked from a physical office building. One of the most significant epiphany moments has been allowing a flexible work environment. If a staff member wants to work from home, then do so. If they wish to work in the office, then do so. We’ve seen workplace happiness and productivity increase with this model.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
I’m so glad you pointed out that mental wellness is not merely binary and that one can improve mental wellness even when it appears good already. This is why I prefer to use steps that are applicable no matter where you are on the spectrum.
In my 23 years of clinical experience, I’ve met people who struggled with unforgiveness and ingratitude. I’ve met others who considered themselves victims versus thriving human beings. Some had no concept of WHY they wanted or needed a wellness strategy. In any case, they unwittingly set themselves up for failure.
No matter your place on the spectrum, the effects can be disastrous if they aren’t kept top of mind. That’s why I’ve included these top five things that will optimize your mental wellness.
- Let Go of Offense. We’re all human and make mistakes. Research tells us that society, as a whole, is angrier than the previous generation. This is primarily due to harboring unforgiveness or offense, and it can take down the mightiest of persons. Letting go of bitterness is an active choice. The mistake people make is thinking that it’s a “one and done” option. In most cases, it requires an ongoing process of actively choosing to let go and forgive.
- Practice the Art of Gratitude. When it comes to mindset, the most straightforward place to start is gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of your day, take an inventory of your wins for the day. Celebrate your successes and write a brief gratitude statement for each one.
- Surviving & Thriving, Never The Victim. A phenomenon that I’ve noticed after years of clinical practice is that those who identify as surviving and thriving almost always have the highest optimized mental wellness. There’s no room for being a victim of your mind. This doesn’t mean that, by definition, you’re not a victim. The difference is that you do not identify as a victim. Much like letting go of offense, this is an active choice that may need to be practiced daily.
- Do You Have a Big Enough Why? I’ve come to learn that if your why is big enough, you can accomplish pretty much anything. I had a client that struggled for months to find a big enough reason why she should lose nearly 100 pounds. She would lose five pounds and gain seven due to self-sabotage. When the light bulb finally went off, she realized that if the weight loss didn’t occur, she could become disabled or die. This would relegate her twins to living with an abusive ex-husband — her why suddenly got big. Within ten months, she’d take off nearly 85 pounds. What is your why, and how big is it?
- Progress Not Perfection. This is a hard one for most Type-A personalities because many are in hot pursuit of perfection. Perfectionism is a seductive mistress that’ll pull you into her vortex of lies that she is the same as progress. Although it’s possible to achieve progress during perfectionist pursuits, it demands a tremendous amount of energy and resources that often lead to burnout. The answer is what I call “The 51% Rule.” With this rule, dial perfectionism down from 100% to 51%. In the end, you’ll discover that you’re able to get more accomplished, be able to keep your sanity intact, and feel better physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
Whether you’re retirement age, in mid-life, or approaching mid-life, there is one thing that you can do to solidify the optimization of your mental wellness. You can learn to nutritionally support your genes.
I hear things from clients in mid-life and beyond like, “I don’t have time to feel bad… have low energy… or deal with depression or anxiety. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m tired of dying a slow, miserable, painful, and grouchy death.”
Once I’ve identified your gene imbalances, I craft a custom-tailored plan to support your genes nutritionally. This allows your genes to function correctly so that symptoms like depression, anxiety, irritability, brain fog, and low energy begin to resolve quickly in days versus months. It also saves you years worth of expensive guesswork found with other methods.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
The basic human need as a teen and pre-teen is belonging versus individualism. There’s a persistent struggle to belong while remaining a unique individual. If I could give teens and pre-teens any suggestions for achieving optimal mental wellness, I’d have to say to them, “Don’t let peer pressure define who you are. Be your own person and walk your own path.”
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
The Big Leap by Dr. Gay Hendricks is a book that I’ve fallen in love with. Dr. Hendricks explains how to overcome the mental blocks that hold us back. He calls this The Upper Limit Problem. It’s a book that I keep on the corner of my desk and refer to often because once I’ve cracked through one upper limit and enter a new level, there always seems to be a new upper limit to breakthrough. Life is full of upper limits that deserve to be shattered. This book has helped me do that on numerous occasions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Like Dr. Gay Hendricks’ Upper Limit Problem, I would create a movement that helped people break through the upper limit of their physical issues at the genetic level as well as their thoughts and emotions. Not surprisingly, as genetic research advances, we’re learning that our thoughts and emotions intersect at meridians within the nervous system that is regulated by gene expression. In essence, the two are inseparable.
With technology having advanced as much as it has the past few years, we’re now able to identify genes that can be nutritionally supported to operate more optimally. When combined with eliminating all manner of “stinking thinking” and emotions that hijack our behavior, supporting genes to become expressed more healthily becomes the next evolutionary step in peak performance.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. ― Mark Twain
As far as relevance is concerned, I’ve learned that finding your why or purpose is a journey. I’ve found this pursuit to be a series of significant events that draw us closer to our destiny. That’s what I think Carl Jung meant when he said, “Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.” I laugh to myself when I think of these quotes because I’ve done an awful lot of “research” in my lifetime.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
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 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drbriangbrown/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/drbriangbrown
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!