Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Brain Fact Wednesday on ”The Neuroscience of an Effective Gratitude Practice”

Brain Fact Wednesday on ”The Neuroscience of an Effective Gratitude Practice”

November 23, 2021

Did you know that there is crucial component of mental, psychological, and social health that is often overlooked[i] and that “Gratitude is a mindset that activates your prefrontal cortex and sets the context for your experience such that you can derive tremendous health benefits?”[ii] Dr. Andrew Huberman

On this episode you will learn:

✔︎  Why your gratitude practice might be outdated, like mine, without brain-science in mind.

✔︎  The physical, psychological and social benefits of an effective gratitude practice.

✔︎  The most effective way to practice gratitude, with your brain in mind.

✔︎  5 STEPS for an effective Gratitude Practice that will help you tap into the mental, psychological and social benefits. 

If you are like me and have a gratitude journal that sits on your desk, and you might have heard of the many health benefits that being grateful can have on you and your life, but you aren’t really sure if your gratitude practice is truly an effective one—then, this Brain Fact Friday is for you.

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #181 on “The Ingredients of an Effective Gratitude Practice.”  I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. We can achieve outstanding and predictable outcomes with whatever it is we are working towards, when we act intentionally, with our brain in mind.

For those of us in the United States, we are approaching Thanksgiving, where we traditionally think of what we are grateful for. I know our Canadian listeners have had this holiday last month, as I watched friends and family celebrate, but I always wonder why there is just one holiday that puts an emphasis on practicing gratitude, especially when there are so many studies that show the clear benefits that gratitude has on our life. You can see for yourself. Go to and type in the word gratitude and fMRI and you will see many recent studies that show how “gratitude leads to benefits for both mental health and interpersonal relationships”[iii] and when you look at the researchers immersed in this work, you will see University Professor and Chair in Neuroscience, Antonio Damasio’s[iv] name come up often with his contributions to the understanding of brain processes that underlie emotions, feelings, decision-making and consciousness, in addition to his work with gratitude.

I’m sure those of you listening to this podcast would know that gratitude is good for your brain, and if you dig deeper into it, you would have discovered that “scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25%, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.”[v]

But as I dug deeper into the research behind this episode, I started to see there was much more to creating the benefits of a gratitude practice when you dive into the Science of Gratitude like the impressive and respected podcaster, Dr. Andrew Huberman[vi] who covered this topic on his podcast this week. I highly suggest listening to his podcast, where I had many AHA Moments, for a thorough look at the why gratitude has such a profound impact on our health and well-being.

Then I came across professor of psychology, at the University of CA, who has studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefit that go far beyond helping us to be happier and well rested.

Robert Emmons, a leader in the positive psychology movement, editor in chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology and Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, is the author of over 200 original publications in peer‑reviewed journals and has written eight books, including The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press), Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton-Mifflin), Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (Jossey-Bass) and The Little Book of Gratitude (Hachette).

Robert Emmons’ research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and how gratitude is related to optimal human functioning, improved health and overall life happiness. His research that began with college students, found that those who kept a gratitude journal for 3 weeks had the following benefits

Physical Benefits

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological Benefits

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social Benefits

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.[vii]



I’ve had a gratitude journal on my desk since October 5th, 2008 and this journal is hard covered, with an Introduction to Gratitude by Jack Canfield[viii].  I remember joining a training class that Jack was teaching, and he used this practice as a part of creating a positive future, by keeping your mind focused on what you were grateful for, with this journal. So I bought one, and have used it since then (not daily but often enough I can open it up and get a pretty good idea of what made me happy at a certain time in my life.

I remember when I first started this practice, I was working for a corporation that was going through some difficult times, and I was always looking for new ideas to infuse happiness and optimism into our work life. I shared the ideas with the importance of looking at the positive side of things with my teammates, and writing out everything we were grateful for on a daily basis, since I knew there were benefits to doing this. Fast forward to 2014, when I first began learning about the brain, and wrote the Level Up book, if you attended one of my presentations, you would have received a notepad where you could write your Daily Gratitude List when you sat down to hear my presentation.


Is There a Better Way?

So what’s wrong with a gratitude journal or list? I didn’t know there was anything wrong with this method until this week when I listened to Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast on “Gratitude.”

Dr. Huberman did mention that some researchers like Kelly McGonigal[ix] have done some incredible work with students around this topic, and I if I think about it, EPISODE #109 on “The Reticular Activating System”[x]  that explains why writing out what we are grateful for is not too far off the mark when we understand that there is a part of the brain, our Reticular Activating System[xi] which is a filter that helps you to focus on what’s important to you.  When we write our list of what’s important to us, or if we are writing things that inspire us, this practice will keep our mind away from thinking of the negatives in our life, or our defensive brain circuits, helping us to lean towards a more positive way of thinking.


But what was I missing? What did I not understand until I wrote this episode about creating an effective gratitude practice? Dr. Huberman’s podcast explained the missing link of what I’ve been doing wrong the past 13 years with my gratitude practice, with ideas for improvement. If you want the deep dive explanation, I highly recommend listening to his most recent episode on gratitude.

Here’s what I learned:

DID YOU KNOW THAT “we have pro-social circuits in our brain that are designed to bring us closer to ourselves, others and things (like our pets and certain foods) or anything that we want to be closer to and want more of? They actually reduce defensive circuits that involve areas of the brain and body associated with freezing or backing up, when these pro-social circuits are activated?” (Dr. Andrew Huberman)

Dr. Huberman went on to explain the positive psychology movement where Robert Emmons’ research comes in, and that there are parallel universes (happiness/unhappiness) where positive psychology urges us towards practices that tap into our neuro-circuits for happiness, away from sadness. I think of the speaker I worked with in the late 1990s, Bob Proctor[xii], who was always pointing us towards possibility thinking to find solutions to problems and away from the negative thinking of lack and limitation. This is much like what Dr. Huberman was saying exists with neuroscience, as our brain has these parallel circuits—the pro-social circuit that brings us closer to others, and the defensive circuit that backs us away, and is designed to keep us safe.

What’s important for us to all know is that gratitude is an important tool that leans us towards these pro-social circuits and all of the benefits associated with them so that they become dominant in our mindset and with regular practice, we will default towards this way of thinking. This is when the true power of a gratitude practice comes into play. When you are faced with a challenge in your life, where would you prefer to go with your default reaction to this challenge? To the defensive circuits that our brain has wired to keep us safe where we freeze and back away from the challenge, or to the pro-social circuit where we look for solutions to our problem that brings some sort of understanding, allowing us to move closer to others, and therefore experience the mental, psychological, and social health benefits. I’m sure you’ll agree with me with the choice to take the pro-social circuit for learning, growth and the health benefits any day, over the defensive circuit.


It was Antonio Damasio who we mentioned earlier, who discovered that these pro-social and gratitude circuits are activated when we feel resonance with another. This can be explained with an understanding of Theory of Mind that we covered on EPISODE #46[xiii] where we are able to experience the mind of another, knowing how another person feels, and Damasio found strong links in the Prefrontal Cortex with ToM that will lift our gratitude and pro-social circuits.


The way I learned my gratitude practice from Jack Canfield in 2008 was missing some key ingredients and this is precisely why I host this podcast. These episodes are not just for you, the listener, but I’m learning and growing as well. If I hadn’t of chosen this topic this week, and tuned into Dr. Huberman’s podcast, I would have moved into another year of practicing gratitude without my brain in mind.  I would never have known that the old way “is not particularly effective in shifting your neuro-circuitry, neurochemistry, or the circuits in your body towards enhanced activation of your PFC, or enhanced activation of these pro-social circuits” (Huberman) and would have been missing out on the myriad of health benefits.


Think of how gratitude activates your prefrontal cortex and sets the context for your experience so that you can gain access to those health benefits that Robert Emmons discovered with his research. Dr. Andrew Huberman affirmed that “a gratitude practice is not wishy washy…and that the neurochemical, anti-inflammatory and the neural circuit mechanisms that gratitude evokes are equally as important as potent forms of intervention like HIIT (high intensity interval training) and can steer your mental and physical health in positive directions, and that those effects are very long-lasting.”[xiv]

The most effective way to do this, and shift your pro-social circuits towards these health benefits is when you are able to put yourself into the mindset of another (ToM or the ability to attribute or understand the experience of another, without actually experiencing it), is one way to do this by giving gratitude to another, but we can’t just sit around and wait for others to tell us how grateful they are for us, so Dr. Huberman suggests a way that we can recreate this experience. This shift will take some thought on your part, as you shift from the old way (writing out everything that made your day) to now thinking about how someone else’s story, made THEIR day, and impacted you.  It’s a distinct shift, and will take some practice.


Here’s How to Do This:

To fully activate these gratitude circuits, one must be able to put themselves in the mindset of another person who is “receiving” (Dr. Huberman) gratitude, not just write out what you are randomly grateful for.  

STEP 1: THINK OF A MEANINGFUL STORY THAT INSPIRES YOU, THAT YOU REPEAT OVER AND OVER AGAIN: Think of a story that is powerful to you, or inspired you in some way, where a person overcame a struggle. The person receives genuine gratitude for the work they did in this process.  This could be you, or someone else who has received gratitude for overcoming a struggle or challenge.

STEP 2: ACTIVATE YOUR GRATITUDE AND PRO-SOCIAL CIRCUITS AS YOU JOT DOWN SOME NOTES that go along with your story. As you are doing this activity, for just 1-3 minutes/day, think about how you are activating the pro-social circuits in your brain that will tip you towards physical, psychological, and social wellbeing.  

Think of the STRUGGLE/WHAT HELP WAS RECEIVED/AND THE IMPACT THAT OVERCOMING THE STRUGGLE HAS HAD ON YOU. I took one of my GRATITUDE notepads and wrote these tips at the top of the page. STRUGGLE/HELP and IMPACT. Then I picked a story that moved me that I will repeat as I my build my gratitude practice with my brain in mind.

STEP 3: THINK ABOUT HOW THIS STORY OF STRUGGLE IMPACTED YOU EMOTIONALLY? Using ToM (feeling resonance, empathy, or even sympathy with the person). Think of how the person who experienced the struggle felt as they overcame their challenges. How does this make YOU feel? Imagine your gratitude circuits lighting up in your PFC as you are doing this.

STEP 4: REPEAT this same story again for 1-3 min/day (3x/week) and with each time you activate your neural circuits, it will become easier each time, and won’t require as much effort. Essentially you are training your brain to look for the lessons learned from overcoming struggle, and the impact that this has on you emotionally. Did it inspire you to work harder, keep going, try something new? What did you learn from watching someone else overcome their struggle?  

STEP 5: BE CONSISTENT with your gratitude practice. During my interview with Sun Sachs[xv], the CEO of Rewire Fitness, he talked about the fact that the brain training component of the app only needed 3 times a week to generate the benefits.  Keep your Gratitude Story Notes somewhere you can quickly glance at them, (either on a notepad on your desk, or on your phone) and look at them 3 times/week.


To review this week’s Brain Fact Friday, DID YOU KNOW THAT there is a crucial component of mental, psychological, and social health that is often overlooked?[xvi]  Even with a gratitude journal on my desk for the past 13 years, I know that gratitude is a practice that could be improved, but until this week, I didn’t know exactly how to refine my gratitude practice.

I’m only on day 2 of looking at my Gratitude Story Notes, and know it will become easier with time and practice, and truly am grateful to have learned this new way of practicing gratitude from Dr. Huberman, and hope that you find it useful as well.

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week in the US, see if you can put this new gratitude activity into practice and tell a story over the holidays using the STRUGGLE/HELP/IMPACT Model, and activate those pro-social circuits with those around you. Then, my challenge is to continue this practice, and make it a habit, so that you not only recognize the lessons learned from those who overcome struggle and adversity, but that you let others know when they have inspired you with their story, lighting up their brain, and providing them with the health benefits that research shows are possible when we offer genuine gratitude to others.

Happy Thanksgiving for those in the US, and for everyone tuning in, I’m grateful that you have taken the time to join me.

See you next week.  


[i] Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Published November 1, 2008

[ii] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman “The Science of Gratitude and How to Build a Gratitude Practice”

[iii] Neural Correlates of Gratitude Published Sept. 30, 2015 by Glenn R Fox, Jonas Kaplan, Hanna Damasio, Antonio Damasio

[iv] Antonio Damasio

[v] Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Published November 1, 2008

[vi] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman “The Science of Gratitude and How to Build a Gratitude Practice”

[vii] Why Gratitude is Good by Robert Emmons Published November 16, 2010

[viii] Gratitude Journal by Jack Canfield and D.D. Watkins Published December 4, 2007

[ix] Kelly McGonigal on Gratitude

[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #109 on “Activating the Reticular Activating System to Set Your Intent and Achieve It”[x]

[xi] What is the Reticular Activating System May 2013

[xii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #66 on “Expanding Your Awareness with a Deep Dive into the Most Important Concepts Learned from Bob Proctor Seminars”

[xiii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #46 “As Close to Mind Reading as Brain Science Gets, Using Theory of Mind in Your Daily Life”

[xiv] Huberman Lab Podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman “The Science of Gratitude and How to Build a Gratitude Practice” (12:20)

[xv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #179 with Sun Sachs from Rewire Fitness

[xvi] Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Published November 1, 2008

Brain Fact Friday on ”Monitoring and Measuring Your Health During This Global Pandemic”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Monitoring and Measuring Your Health During This Global Pandemic”

November 18, 2021

Did you know that “many people experience an increase in respiratory rate prior to any other symptoms of COVID-19?”[i]

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for Brain Fact Friday and EPISODE #180 on “Monitoring Your Health During the Global Pandemic.”

 I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. We can achieve outstanding and predictable outcomes with whatever it is we are working towards, when we act intentionally, with our brain in mind.

This week’s Brain Fact Friday hit me unexpectedly, when I woke up and saw something that caught my attention with the Whoop Fitness Tracker I’ve been wearing, since I interviewed Kristen Holmes on EPISODE #134 earlier this year.[ii]

BRAIN FACT FRIDAY: Changes to Respiratory Rate Are An Early Warning of COVID-19

Did you know that “many people experience an increase in respiratory rate prior to any other symptoms of COVID-19?”[iii] I woke up to an exclamation mark next to my daily vitals that I watch, and never having seen something like this, I clicked on it to see that my respiratory rate had risen, higher than usual.


Not thinking much about this, I clicked on the chart, and noticed it  had jumped up significantly from 15.5 to 17.6 rpm and the note at the top of the screen said my “recent RPM measurements are significantly above your typical range. This indicates that your body may be experiencing illness, anxiety, or another condition.” I felt completely normal, but remembered reading something that WHOOP had covered with a Pro Golfer who noticed his respiratory rate jumped up prior to a positive COVID test, and I searched for that article.

WHOOP measures respiratory rate [iv] during sleep using a phenomenon called Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia. Emily Capodilupo from Whoop explains that “when you breathe in your heart rate increases, and when you breathe out it decreases. Typically people average between 12 and 20 respirations per minute (RPM)” and this data set usually doesn’t change much on a daily basis. But when it does, it’s something to pay attention to.

Not feeling any symptoms at all at this point, and being double vaccinated, I didn’t think I had COVID, but seeing a jump in these numbers made me wonder.

When I read the article WHOOP posted last June about pro golfer Nick Watney, who noticed his respiratory rate increased (similar to mine) before he was to play in the second round of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament[v], and this rise in respiratory rate seemed like a “pretty consistent tell-tale sign” so like Nick, I was tested, and sure enough it was positive. This was long before any symptoms had hit, allowing me to take a proactive approach to recovery and isolation, and when the symptoms did hit (a temperature increase and the worst nausea I’ve felt since pregnancy) I was prepared for them.

So, for this week’s Brain Fact Friday, did you know the science behind respiratory rate and COVID-19 and why this finding is so important?

“COVID-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection. The infected cells are the alveoli, the point of contact in your lungs to your blood. As they get damaged, your ability to get oxygen into the blood and get carbon dioxide out becomes less efficient. In order to compensate, you have to take more breaths.” (Mark Van Deusen, which explained why my respiratory rate increased. I also noticed that it was more difficult to take deep breaths, and my lungs felt like they used to feel after swimming laps of a pool (something I haven’t done in years).  

While WHOOP is not a medical device, and this Week’s Brain Fact Friday is not medical advice, but to provide additional information to help you to understand the importance of staying on top of your health numbers, to be proactive, during this global pandemic when anything can change at a moment’s notice.


I was able to catch my positive results early, allowing for a quicker recovery, minimizing exposure to others from this reading and now that it’s all over, thought it was important enough to cover the importance of measuring our numbers during this Global Pandemic. Knowing that COVID-19 “is most contagious in the 2 days before symptom onset”[vi] is a huge eye-opener for anyone to be aware enough to catch this virus early and mitigate its impact.

Just to note, while there are times that as a podcaster, I do receive products as a gift, or at a reduced price, in exchange for a product review, but this was not the case with the WHOOP device. I actually purchased it for a gift to myself (at the regular price) when I turned 50 earlier this year, so that I could stay on top of my numbers, and I’m so glad I made that choice.

During my isolation time, I was able to watch my respiratory rate return to it’s typical range, and my see my body’s recovery return to the GREEN range, which showed it was normal, and ready to return to normal activity.


To close out this week’s Brain Fact Friday, I know that knowing our numbers is important, but never thought they could save your life, and others around you.  It’s fine when you wake up, consistently checking your numbers, and not seeing any change, you might think this practice would be meaningless, until that one day, like me, you notice an exclamation mark, that catches your attention, stops you in your tracks, and makes you step back, and take a closer look at what could possibly be going on with your body.

There’s nothing more important to me, than YOUR health and well-being and I wish you all well as you go into the weekend. I hope this Brain Fact Friday has been as helpful and life-changing as it was for me.

See you next week.


Leveraging WHOOP Technology to Predict COVID-19 Risk June 22, 2020 by Emily Capodilupo

UPDATE to this article that has now been peer reviewed and published in the journal PLOS ONE.


[i] Knowing Your Baseline: Case Studies in Respiratory Rate in Time of COVID-19 by Mark Van Deusen

[ii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #134 with Kristen Holmes from on “Unlocking a Better You: Measuring Sleep, Recovery and Strain.”

[iii] Knowing Your Baseline: Case Studies in Respiratory Rate in Time of COVID-19 by Mark Van Deusen

[iv] Understanding Respiratory Rate: What is it, What’s Normal, and Why you Should Track It by Emily Capodilupo

[v] Knowing Your Baseline: Case Studies in Respiratory Rate in Time of COVID-19 by Mark Van Deusen

[vi]Leveraging WHOOP Technology to Predict COVID-19 Risk June 22, 2020 by Emily Capodilupo

Sun Sachs, CEO of Rewire Fitness on Their First-To-Market ”Neuro Performance Mobile App for Athletes”

Sun Sachs, CEO of Rewire Fitness on Their First-To-Market ”Neuro Performance Mobile App for Athletes”

November 16, 2021

“What if we could practice for those most difficult moments that we will face in competition, for those moments when your mind begins to unravel, and self-doubt starts to creep in? How could this type of practice change our lives? Not only for sport, but for anything that requires mental toughness?” Sun Sachs, Rewire Fitness


Watch the interview on YouTube here.

Download the Rewire Fitness App FREE TRIAL here.  

Stay tuned for today’s episode #179 with Sun Sachs, CEO and Co-Founder of Rewire Fitness[i] who will explore this very important question with a human performance platform that he created, combining his passion with endurance sports and software development, to create an app that many of us have been looking for, providing evidence-based solutions for tracking your readiness to perform, building mental resilience, and improving your mind/body recovery.


For those new, or returning guests, welcome! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share this new platform with you. At a time when mental resilience is crucial for the entire world, not just those who know the importance of mental toughness for sport, but for every one of us, myself included, this is a skill that requires daily practice. Every athlete knows the importance of mental resilience in sport and would tell you that at least 50-90% is mental when it comes to the focus and precision needed for their performance, but if you ask them “how much time do you spend training your mind?” most will not have a solid answer for you.

I receive many emails from people around the world with different ideas and suggestions from the podcast, and I’m laser focused with the direction we are going and the speakers we are looking for, but every once in awhile, someone comes in front of me, and if I had read the email quickly, or not taken the time to understand exactly what their product is, it would have been a missed opportunity.


This was the case when I was saw the email from Rizala Carrington from Rewire Fitness that came in just a few days before the end of October.  The heading of her email said “First to Market Neuro Performance for Athletes” and in the body of the email I saw something about an app that “unlocks human performance” with major investments from Under Armour and elite athletes such as NBA All-Star Kyle Korver. 

On this episode you will learn:

- Sun Sach’s journey as an athlete and why he founded Rewire

(would love to know this!)

- Why cognitive fatigue is a blind spot for most athletes

(I wonder what solution he has?)

- Why most readiness trackers are using an incomplete data set (YES! As a fitness tracker user, I’ve noticed this and I wonder what they see is missing/the solution).

- Tips for accelerating mind/body recovery (YES! What do they suggest?)

- Why the traditional way of building mental resilience is flawed (exactly! I don’t have all the answers but know there must be a better way than just pounding the pavement).

This began my conversation with Rewire Fitness, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this app. I signed up right away, so that I could experience the product before creating their questions, and each day, kept emailing Rizala with how impressed I was. If you are an athlete, or a regular person like me, looking to take your performance to new heights, sit back, and listen to this interview and when it’s over, I highly recommend going to their site, Rewire Fitness,[ii] and starting your own journey with the FREE trial they offer.

Let’s meet Sun Sachs, the CEO and co-founder of Rewire Fitness, and explore this app together.

Welcome Sun Sachs, it’s incredible to see you again. Thank you for joining me today.

INTRO Q: Sun, it’s been just a couple of weeks since Rizala Carrington sent me the email introducing me to your work, and I feel like we’ve known each other for much longer. Maybe It’s because I spent the weekend listening to your podcasts,[iii] on the edge of my seat on your Alpine hike one, but it wasn’t difficult for me to see that what you have created fills a need I noticed when I started tracking HRV to measure performance, but can you start out with when you saw this need and what it took to create this app to fill it?

Q1: We don’t need to be a pro athlete to know that when it comes to sport, we all know how to train the body, but can you explain what happens if we are missing out on cognitive training? Why is cognitive fatigue a blind spot for athletes or anyone looking to improve their mental toughness?

Q2: I know you dive deep into this on your podcast, but for someone new listening, can we walk through each of the 3 PARTS of the APP? I’ll introduce each part, and then could you provide the research behind the training we are doing as we are using the app?



  • PART ONE: READINESS ASSESSMENT: Wake up, same time every morning, before I grab my coffee and do my readiness assessment. Consistency. Tracks lapses and misses, cognitive fatigue and readiness. What’s the science behind this part of the program, that I know you mention came from the military?
  • PART TWO: MINDSET RECOVERY: I can do the Mindset Recovery pre workout (to put me in the right mindset) for competition mindset, or even before I have a big presentation to calm me down and reduce my stress. I love the affirmations and binaural beats (and my headphones for this part). Can you explain the science behind the Mindset Recovery, and how it reduces stress or preparing me for competition? I like hearing how you used this on your Alpine hike when you didn’t get enough sleep (or had to wake up at midnight, so how could you?) and used this part of the program to mimic the audio, calming your brain? This could be extremely useful for people in many different situations.
  • PART THREE: NEURO-TRAINING: That is the part of the program that builds my resilience, prepares me for those difficult times that we all must face. With daily practice, I’m working my willpower muscles and strengthening this part of my brain. Can you explain this part, and how this is a better approach than the method I told you I was using, (the hammer approach) that just takes up too much time to build resiliency and strength?

Q3: As someone who measures everything, I noticed that there was a data set that was missing, and even wearing 3 trackers consistently, I was fully aware that something was being left off the table. Can you tell me when you noticed this and was it intentional to not have something else that we wear? I was so was glad to see this skillset can be accomplished through an app that’s stand alone.

Q4: I listened to your podcast with your cyclist study, and how brain training improved their results by 120%! WOW. Can you revisit these results and any other outstanding stats like this?

Q5: What I loved the most about this app, coming from someone who worked 6 years with a motivational speaker whose focus was on training your mind to be in control of all of those outside forces that will inevitably come our way, is that not everyone has the chance to have this training, and if you have, there are still moments in life that will happen that will stop us in our tracks, and if we are not prepared for them, could catch us off guard. How does this app prepare us for life in general, and why is it not just for athletes?

Q6: Of course, I had to listen to your hike up Mount Rainier and its comparison you made to Mount Everest. I interviewed Dalip Shekhawat on EPISODE #45[iv] of our podcast and heard the preparation that went into his climb, making me think how your app could have helped him during his training and climb. Can you explain how the app helps us to deal with the mental strength we must generate to prevent something from unraveling (and causing death if you are hiking up a mountain like Ranier or Everest) or losing a game (might as well be a death if you are a pro athlete) or preventing a life situation from getting worse? Can you take us through this experience?

Q7: I’ve heard you mention a BETA program where you were already working with endurance athletes, winners of triathlons, and coaches from different sports. I know that ALL athletes are looking for new ways to improve performance, but what are you doing with this BETA program? Are you tailoring any of the exercises to certain sports and what is your vision for the future of the app?

Q8: Anything I’ve missed that’s important?

Thank you, Sun, for those who are listening who want to try out the app, I will put the link in the show notes that they can click on to access the app for a FREE Trial. I want to thank you very much for your time today, and like I mentioned to you when we first spoke, I will be a lifetime member of this app, and will continue to follow your vision. Thank you for all you are doing to help build mental toughness and resilience in those who have been looking for a new way to accomplish this. Best of luck with the future of this app, and all you are doing to prepare the world for mental and physical toughness.



Best of luck.


Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #125 on “What is HRV and Why is it Important for Tracking Health, Recovery and Resilience?”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #134 with Kristen Holmes from on “Unlocking a Better You: Measuring Sleep, Recovery and Strain.”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #134 BRAIN FACT FRIDAY on “Using Recovery to Become Resilient to Physical, Mental and Emotional Stressors.”

Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda ublished April 22, 2014





[iv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #45 with Dalip Shekhawat on “Lessons Learned from Summiting Mount Everest”

Dr. Brian Stenzler on ”DREAM Wellness: Taking Your Mental and Physical Health to New Heights.”

Dr. Brian Stenzler on ”DREAM Wellness: Taking Your Mental and Physical Health to New Heights.”

November 13, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #178 with Dr. Brian Stenzler,[i] M.S., D.C. the CEO of Dream Wellness on his new book “DREAM Wellness: 5 Keys to Raising Kids for a Lifetime of Physical and Mental Health” where the DREAM in the title of his book stands for (Diet, Relaxation, Exercise, Adjustment and Mental Wellness).

Watch the interview on YouTube here. 

Take the DREAM SCORE Assessment here

In this interview you will learn:

✔︎ How healthy you are, according to Dr. Stenzler’s DREAM SCORE Assessment.

✔︎ Recommendations to improve areas of weakness from the DREAM SCORE with tips from the DREAM Wellness book.

✔︎The 5 Keys for DREAM Health and why they are important for everyone.

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom, a parent, or in the corporate environment. The purpose of this podcast is to take the fear out of this new discipline that backs our learning with simple neuroscience to make it applicable for us all to use right away, for immediate results.

I first met Dr. Stenzler in 2014 when I was at a conference in San Diego with brain training and business expert, John Assaraf, and I was cutting it close to making it to the airport on time on the last day of the event. Dr. Stenzler was standing next to me, and offered to give me a lift so I could stay a bit longer and not have to worry about the time. When you meet him, you will see that this is who he is. Offering to take me to the airport (when we had only just met that minute) is just a small testament to who he is. Although he had been helping thousands of people with his chiropractic work (at the time he was President of the California Chiropractic Association) when the coronavirus global pandemic hit our world in March 2020, he knew that his book was urgent, and important, and he made it a priority.

In 1996, Dr. Stenzler and his business partner Dr. Gregg Baron first trademarked the term D.R.E.A.M. to make it easy for people to remember what a wellness lifestyle entailed and in 2021 he published his book, DREAM WELLNESS to bridge the gap from the current reactive system of “healthcare” toward a proactive model of wellness by providing the tools and venue for one’s journey. To give you some history on Dr. Stenzler, by the year 2003, he had two successful DREAM Wellness locations on Long Island, New York. His unique holistic approach towards helping people express their true perfection has enabled DREAM Wellness to expand to the west coast where there are currently three thriving locations in San Diego (Del Mar, Pacific Beach and Santee). By offering a wide range of holistic and wellness services under one roof and traveling around the globe to consult with businesses and organizations, Dr. Stenzler is truly living his DREAM.


He is the picture of health that you can see for yourself in the picture of him in the show notes that was taken just last Wednesday when he was attending a conference at a hotel not far from my house. I ran out to say hello, we exchanged books, and in a short conversation, Dr. Stenzler was there to offer ideas and suggestions, saying “how can I help you” with what you are working on.  I’m honored to call him one of my friends and love the work that he is doing to inspire physical and mental health in our next generation.  Without further ado, let’s meet Dr. Brian Stenzler.

Welcome Dr. Stenzler, so good to see you again.

Brian speaks, and I ask “Hey, how was your conference? Did you meet all the people you needed to meet and accomplish what you were looking to do?”

INTRO Q: Dr. Stenzler, I like to open up with a question to get to know you better, outside of what I want to ask you about your book, and the work you are doing with DREAM Wellness and I found this question in “The Author’s Journey” section of your book where you mention that your vision for your career changed 180 degrees from wanting to be a movie producer, to finding your career in chiropractics. Can you explain how you made this shift that brought you to where you are today? Making movies does sound exciting!  

Q1: Dr. Stenzler, we first met around 7 years ago, and although we kept in touch through social media, where I can see what’s important to you in your life (raising a healthy son) with your wife, Brooke, I’ve got to ask you, are there ever times when you find it difficult to take the healthy route for your family? I’m asking because my nickname at home, given to me by my two girls, is “turmeric” because they say I put turmeric in everything. I really don’t but they are poking fun at me with the path I choose, and never veer off from. Are there any times that you give in, throw up your hands and say “eat the candy” or whatever it is?

Q2: I began reading your book this weekend, and it’s a manual, over 400 pages, so I can’t say I’ve finished it yet, but I did have a chance to complete the DREAM SCORE ASSESSMENT[ii] that you introduce in chapter 4-2. I took the test over the weekend, and knew I was going to get a high score because health is my #1 value that I make non-negotiable. I was just surprised that you mentioned you don’t often see scores like this.


What typical scores do you see?

I mentioned to you some of the things that I do to keep health at the forefront, and it’s something that I know makes me weird and something I hear jokes about because I just don’t ever bend on health because it’s really important to me.

Here’s a story for you to put this into perspective. I volunteered at my kids’ school with this other parent to order food for the class, (we had to go order it, and bring it to their school picnic) so we had to go through the drive through of 4 different fast food places. I’m not kidding, I was sweating. I’ve never ordered food this way, and there were crispy fries and all these types of fries, what on the earth happened to plain burgers and fries? The other parent laughed and said to me “I didn’t think there was such a thing as someone who’s never ordered fast food” and it was the first time I think I was embarrassed about my healthy lifestyle.

Q2B)When I hear “everything in moderation” I cringe because I think it’s a slippery slope. Is there such a thing as being too intense with health? What do you think? 

Q2C) What does DREAM stand for, why did you choose these specific staples and what do you think someone a consistent score in the 90s all the time, like you?

Q2D) What about someone who receives a low score? I know that often it’s just because health is put last on the list, ahead of other priorities that are also important. How can someone make the changes needed to put health first when their day is already packed tight? What are some easy ways to kick it up a notch and see improvements?

Q2E) How did you intend the assessment be used with the book? Why is it important to have both the book/manual with your assessment score?

Q3: I do mention these top 5 health staples[iii] on the podcast all the time and am constantly looking for what experts who can move the needle towards health. I mentioned to you the things that I do to put health first, and like you with your book, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, I grabbed my husband who needed a lifestyle change with all the travel he was doing for work, and we made a commitment to hike every morning—something we have kept up for almost 2 years now. Each of these health staples requires a commitment of time and energy. For someone who scores high on the DREAM ASSESSMENT, what do you think it is that you are doing from your DREAM staples (Diet, Relaxation, Exercise, Adjustment and Mental Wellness). that gives you this high score? What are your areas of improvement?

Q3B) If you take a quick look at the TOP 5 health staples I’ve chosen to focus on for this podcast, I think I see 3 of your staples that are missing from mine, (relaxation, adjustment and mental wellness) and I’m going to be addressing 2 them on the podcast after yours. What do you do to sharpen these 2 areas?


Q4: I loved seeing the sense of urgency you saw to release this book when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world. I also saw an urgency to speed things up at this time and see how we could take the situation and create something positive out of it. What opportunities did you create, or door that were opened for you with this book?

Q5: What are your final thoughts, or anything important that you think we might have missed? 

Q6: For people who want to get the book and take the dream score, is this the best place?

I will put all of the links for people to follow you in the show notes and want to thank you for your time today to explain your DREAM Wellness book and vision for physical and mental health for our future generations. I say for those listening, just take the DREAM SCORE assessment and get the book to make the improvements that come back to you after the assessment. I did see some areas of improvement that I can make, and know there’s always room to hone in on ways to take our health to higher levels so we can experience those high levels of productivity.

Thanks for everything today, Dr. Stenzler!








YouTube Channel:  




Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group  





The Passion Test

Dr. Stenzler on San Diego Morning Extra News

The 100 Year Lifestyle by Eric Plasker, D.C.



[ii] Dream Score Assessment

[iii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE on “The Top 5 Health Staples”

Horacio Sanchez, Jon Lieff MD, Howard Rankin Ph.D, and Tom Beakbane on ”The Most Significant Insight from Neuroscience That Could Transform Education”

Horacio Sanchez, Jon Lieff MD, Howard Rankin Ph.D, and Tom Beakbane on ”The Most Significant Insight from Neuroscience That Could Transform Education”

November 11, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for our very FIRST Panel Interview and EPISODE #177.

Watch the interview on YouTube here.

For those new, or returning guests, welcome! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments.

This week, I’m thrilled to welcome back 4 guests to our very first panel interview, with Horacio Sanchez, from, Dr. Jon Lieff, MD from, Dr. Howard Rankin, PhD. from, and Tom Beakbane, author of How to Understand Everything. Consilience: A New Way to See the World"

This panel was actually Tom Beakbane’s idea, after his EPISODE #144[i] this summer, he mentioned that he had listened to Dr. Lieff’s episode on his book, The Secret Language of Cells, and thought it would be a good idea if we hosted a panel discussion in the near future. Not wanting to miss any opportunity to learn something new, I agreed, and wrote down the idea, thinking of late Fall for this panel discussion. When the time felt right, I emailed Horacio Sanchez, Jon Lieff, Howard Rankin and Tom Beakbane with the idea, and all agreed immediately, and it was set in stone.

Today I want to welcome back all 4 speakers to our discussion, and will give their background, so you can see where they have come from, as you listen to their thoughts and ideas on this episode.

The topic for today will be “What is the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education” so as I read through each speaker’s bio, you can think of how their experience can contribute to this topic, with some ideas that we can all take away and think about the action steps that we can bring to our schools or workplaces. I really do believe that these ideas can transform our results, and it just takes you, the listener, to implement one idea at a time, for this change to occur.

Here’s today’s panelists.

1. Horacio Sanchez

We have had Horacio on the podcast twice before, so this will be his third episode. What I love about Horacio is that he was mentioned as an expert in educational neuroscience in our first interview with Ron Hall, from Valley Day School, who said what he learned from Horacio changed the trajectory of his career in education. I just remember putting an image of him in Ron Hall’s video and thought for someone making such an impact in the field I’m most interested in; I should learn more about his work. And that’s where my friendship with Horacio began. You can listen to both his episodes to learn more: EPISODE #74 we covered “How to Use Brain Science to Improve Instruction and School Climate” with a focus on his book The Education Revolution, and on EPISODE #111 we focused on his most recent book “The Poverty Solution.”

2. Jon Lieff, MD

Our next panelist, Dr.Jon Lieff, I was introduced to last summer, with his new book, The Secret Language of Cells that we discussed on EPISODE #143. His topic was fascinating and inspired me to write EPISODE #147 on “Improving Mental Clarity by Understanding our Brian States, Brain Fog, and How It’s Created” and gave me a new understanding of how our cells communicate with each other, how T cells send messages to the neuron to stop making so many memory cells when we are stressed, creating brain fog and making me think of new ways to support brain health. I had lots of feedback from Dr. Lieff’s interview that showed how it opened up many people’s eyes to new ways to approach health and wellness. There was one point that I remember someone emailed me about—it was how they were shocked to learn that “scientists can observe immune cells in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes and protects the entire brain. This fluid was thought to function only as protection for the brain when jostled. But now it is known to be a river of wireless communication, with signals coursing throughout the brain from all regions and all types of cells. It is now known that at most times there are 500,000 T cells in the CSF along with smaller numbers of other immune cells.” (Secret Language of Cells, Dr. Lieff, Page 35). If you think this might sound a bit advanced, it’s really not, when we take the time to understand this. Just this weekend, I was at a wedding, with 2 of our friends who were getting married after meeting a few years back at the library while they were studying to become doctors. When the conversation at the wedding took a turn towards CSF and the brain, I smiled and remembered what I had learned from Dr. Lieff. We can all understand how our brain and body functions, so we can be in charge of our health and future.

3. Howard Rankin, Ph.D.

Our third panelist, Dr. Rankin, appeared three times on the podcast, first, with his book, How Not to Think, and second when he interviewed me, and thirdly, with Grant Renier on their new book “Intuitive Rationality: predicting Future Events with the New Behavioral Direction of AI.” I immediately connected with Dr. Rankin, as he opened my eyes to cognitive bias, and ways that my thinking was flawed. I’m still not 100% sure how I’m supposed to think, but know that whatever it is I am thinking, it’s probably wrong and full of biases, so I will keep learning, and hopefully with time and experience, will be all the more wiser. This will be Dr. Rankin’s 4th appearance on this podcast, and I’m looking forward to the insight he will bring to the panel. I know he will share his understanding of how we shouldn’t think—with our cognitive biases running our mental programming.

4. Tom Beakbane

Tom Beakbane, our 4th panelist, and the one who came up with the idea for this episode, opened me up to the fact that I don’t need to know everything and gave me a sense of freedom with these interviews. His book, “How to Understand Everything” stumped me, (and I admitted to not being sure what consilience was) in the first few minutes of our interview. While I think at the end of the interview, I had a new way of looking at the world, through this new lens of Consilience, which reveals how things self-organize from the bottom up, in contrast to how we think and communicate, which is top down. I’m certain that there’s much more to learn from Tom and his way of looking at the world.

I can’t wait to see all four of our guests and see what they will say about how simple neuroscience can transform the future of education.

I want to welcome each of our guests to the podcast today: Horacio Sanchez, Dr. Jon Lieff, MD, Dr. Howard Rankin, Ph.D, and Tom Beakbane. Welcome! It’s incredible to see you all again. Thanks for being here.


I want to thank all of you for coming back on the podcast, to keep the conversation going with your books, interviews, and the work you have been doing since we spoke last. I really do feel lucky to have this chance to speak with you again. At the end of each of your interviews, I wish I could stay on longer, asking more questions, but know that the learning will continue as we revisit your episodes, and re-read your books. I really do believe in life-long learning and am grateful for this platform to share your expertise with those who tune in, around the world.  So, thank you!

Which brings us to the topic of discussion for today’s episode that Tom Beakbane’s idea.

TOPIC: “What’s gone wrong with our educational system and what’s the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education?”

If I could begin with Horacio, whose work at deals directly with educators and students in today’s classrooms, to launch this discussion. Horacio, what do you think?

Q1: What’s gone wrong with our educational system?

Horacio answers—

What’s gone wrong with our educational system?

Dr. Lieff, Dr. Rankin, and Tom I’d love to hear your perspective as well.

Q2: What’s the most significant insight from neuroscience that can transform the future of education?

I would like to begin with Dr. Lieff, because I am curious of his perspective from The Secret Language of Cells, and mental health, that is crucial for today’s students AND teachers.

Horacio, Dr. Rankin and Tom what’s your perspective?

I would like to know Horacio’s perspective with what he sees working directly with students and teachers with brain science, what he thinks could transform the future of education.

Howard and Tom, I would like to know your perspective on how our thinking can be taking us off course, and what can we do to get back on track and make an impact on our future generations.

Q3: I’m a big dreamer and really do believe in dreaming big. It’s usually what I say when I’m signing one of my books for someone because I believe in the possibilities in the world, and that each person has tremendous power within them to make a lasting impact on this world.  Let’s imagine that we were given a grant for $100 million (and I choose that amount because 5 years ago I submitted an idea to the MacArthur Foundation’s 100 and Change Grant Contest)[ii] and it involved budgeting $100 million for your idea. It was an incredible experience to even open up your mind to how you would distribute these funds to make a global impact on the future of education. I know where my idea fell short, but what would you say?

What would be YOUR plan for $100 million if we were awarded this grant to use neuroscience to change the future of education?

I would like to begin with Tom and then Dr. Rankin for their perspective on this.

Then Horacio and Dr. Lieff?

I want to thank you all for coming on our FIRST panel interview, so we can all continue to learn from you, and keep the conversation going as it relates to neuroscience making a change in our future generations.

I hope that those listening can take away some ideas to think about and implement right away to make the changes that I know are possible.


[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #144

[ii] Andrea’s Video Pitch for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100 and Change Grant Published on YouTube October 2, 2016

Brain Fact Friday on ”The Neuroscience of Communication: Why Our Brain Doesn‘t Like the Word, NO!”

Brain Fact Friday on ”The Neuroscience of Communication: Why Our Brain Doesn‘t Like the Word, NO!”

November 4, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for Brain Fact Friday and EPISODE #176 on “The Neuroscience of Communication: Why Our Brain Doesn’t Like the Word No!”

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our own productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. We can achieve outstanding and predictable outcomes with whatever it is we are working towards, when we act intentionally, with our brain in mind.

This week’s Brain Fact Friday hit me this weekend when I was handed a book and asked what I thought of it. It was Jack Carew’s You’ll Never Get No for an Answer[i] with a copyright date of 1987! I looked at the cover of the book, and it was clearly written in the 1980s. The author was on the cover, dressed in a suit and pointing at you, the reader with the intention of making a connection. My gut reaction was far from what the author intended. I thought, “oh no, I can’t see how there’s anything relevant in this book, for today’s workplace” feeling that sense of neural dissonance or conflict at the brain level, but if this book wasn’t exceptional, I don’t think large sales organizations would still be using it, around the world, over 3 decades after it was written.

I usually read books through Kindle on my iPhone, so when I have a physical copy, I love to flip through and see what I notice from the pages. We all have our styles of what we are looking for, and I noticed the interior looked “old” and I thought old-school, when I saw that the print wasn’t crisp or modern looking. And there weren’t many testimonials, just a couple, but the one on the front cover stood out. It was by Og Mandino, American author of the best-selling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World.[ii] Og is the most widely read inspirational and self-help author in the world. He was the former president of Success Unlimited magazine, the first recipient of the Napoleon Hill Gold Medal for literary achievement, a member of the International Speakers Hall of Fame and honored with the Masters of Influence by the National Speakers Association. Og Mandino sadly passed away in 1996 but his books continue to inspire thousands of people all over the world.

So if a pro like Og Mandino said this book was “one of the most powerful and helpful books on salesmanship” that he had ever read, my brain went directly to Confirmation Bias, and I thought I had better not judge a book by its cover, and read it right away!

I was shocked to see how Jack’s 10 strategies, written over 34 years ago, were timeless and relevant for anyone who wants to get their point across to someone else, not just those who are in sales. We all need to be able to persuade others whether it’s coming to a consensus in your personal life, or in the workplace, there is a power behind being able to naturally influence someone, without the use of force, which we all know negates.

As I was reading his book, I wondered how his strategies could be connected to simple neuroscience, just like The Neuroscience of Personal Change, EPISODE #68[iii] where we took Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book and connected each habit to brain science. I thought about the 10 unique strategies that Jack used to show us how to position ourselves to never receive that dreaded “no, I’m not interested” in whatever it is you are selling, or whatever idea you are trying to convey, and this thought inspired this week’s brain fact Friday on “The Neuroscience of Communication: Why Our Brain Doesn’t Like the Word No!” and with this I mean not just with the word no,  but looking at how the words you choose, and how exactly you say them can influence someone, or not.  I know Chris Gargano mentioned this in episode #166 when he was taking about leadership in the workplace. In a world where time is money, and most of us never have enough time, what we say really matters. In personal relationships, poor listening and speaking skills are major causes of disagreements and in the business world, can ruin an entire corporation.

So for this week’s Brain Fact Friday, we will look at Jack Carew’s book through a neuroscientific lens, and I hope to prove that he was years ahead of his time with this book, that was written 24 years BEFORE the first fMRI scan machine was introduced, changing the world forever as we began to learn the power held within our brain[iv] with the words we say, and with how we say them.

For this week’s Brain Fact Friday:

DID YOU KNOW: that “Words can heal, or hurt—if you were in an fMRI scanner (that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain) (and you were told a firm NO! for something) we could record, in less than a second, a substantial increase of activity in your amygdala and the release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters…that immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, especially those that are involved with logic, reason, language processing, and communication. And the more you stay focused on negative words and thoughts, the more you can damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions. You may disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and the way your brain regulates happiness, longevity and health.”[v]

If I were leading a sales training, using Jack Carew’s book in 2021, I would open up the session with a section that shows how important it is that we understand how our words impact our brain—for our health, well-being and productivity as well as the importance of keeping communication quick and to the point for the sake of workplace effectiveness.  Twitter really does have it right when it has you limit your characters (spaces included) to 280 characters or less. If you have something to say, see if you can say it, in 10 words or less. This is an interesting activity to try, especially if you are the type that thinks you have to explain your point (like I’ve been guilty of).  Before saying anything, use your fingers and count out 10 words, and then stop. Can you convey your ideas in 10 words or less? It takes practice, but is a good practice to learn, when communicating with the brain in mind.

“Extreme brevity keeps the emotional centers of the brain from sabotaging a conversation. Anger is averted before it begins…Neuroscience supports this premise…the moment a person expresses even the slightest degree of negativity, it increases negativity in both the speaker’s and listener’s brains. Instead of getting rid of the anger, we increase it, and this can, over time, cause irreparable damage, not only to the relationship, but to the brain as well…so any strategy that can teach a person to speak with clarity, brevity, calmness, kindness and sincerity will increase interpersonal stability in the workplace and at home.”[vi]

I’m sure you are well aware that negative words can hurt our effectiveness and health as well as the flipside where positive words and images can “decrease depression and anxiety” (Words Can Change Your Brain, page 391) but I’m not suggesting to avoid difficult situations, or shrink during adversity, as they can build mental strength, and resilience, but they can also stop you in your tracks.

  • Do you know how your brain responds to the word “no”, or anything negative at all?
  • When difficult situations come up, do you lean towards them, looking for a solution, or back away?
  • Or do you just completely zone out?

Try this experiential activity to find out. You’ll  actually have to do this activity to see what you notice, and each person, with a brain that’s wired differently, will have a completely different experience. I remember doing this activity a few years ago, but it was one of those things you’ll never forget. If you do try it, please do let me know the results of what was learned.

Experiential Activity: Testing Your Mental Toughness

You can try this with your class, or sales team, or in your workplace, but split everyone up into groups of 3. One person is the participant and the other 2 are either the negative chatter that surrounds them daily or the positive feedback.


Participant: listens and notices what they hear, while the negative person shouts out negative comments into their ear,(on one side)  and the positive person’s job is to combat the negative feedback with positive feedback (in the other ear). Once everyone understands their role, you say go…and the positive and negative feedback people need to go right next to the participants ear and speak loudly with either negative things like “you’re worthless, a total failure, you’re not good at anything” over and over again, while the other person combats these phrases in the other ear with positives like “you’re a Rockstar, everything you do turns to gold” something like that…and keep going giving enough time for the participant to notice what they hear.  Let this activity run for a good 2-3 minutes and then debrief.


  1. What was more noticeable (louder, or easier to hear)—the positive or negative feedback?
  2. Could the participant get to the point where they didn’t hear the negativity at all, showing their ability to block out the noise?
  3. Could they remember the negative phrases?
  4. Could they remember the positive phrases?
  5. What did the participant notice the most?

Psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, Ph.D. reminds us of the Negativity Bias where “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones”[vii] so it will take practice to build our brain to be wired to hear the positives, and block out the negatives, improving our mental toughness.

Each person is different and will have a different experience with this activity because our brains are all wired differently but the purpose is to see how our brain deals with negativity.

  • Can we see past it, overcome it, or does it shut you down? 

This is a really good experiential activity for self-awareness. It was at least 20 years ago when I did this for the first time, but I’ll never forget my experience. In the beginning, I could hear the negative comments, and wasn’t aware of the positives at all, until I shifted, and thought of what I was working on, and something in my brain blocked out all the negative comments, and although they were shouting in my ear, I could only hear the positive person, shouting encouragement for what I was working on. It’s a good lesson for the mental strength needed to rewire our brain to pay attention to whatever it is we are working on and ignore everything else that doesn’t support this goal. This understanding can take our focus to a new level.


To close out this week’s Brain Fact Friday, on “The Neuroscience of Communication” we are reminded of the importance of speaking with brevity, calmness and kindness, being mindful with the words we choose, and staying focused on our goals, by blocking out all the negative chatter and noise around us.

Before writing this conclusion, I took a quick break on Instagram and saw a post from Assistant Professor at Butler University, Dr. Lori Desautels[viii], from EPISODE #16[ix] and EPISODE #56[x] and she had posted the image of her book How May I Serve You [xi] that was published 10 years ago. The cover caught my attention, as I was thinking of how our words impact our brain and what could I possibly say that would be impactful and memorable for us all to think about at the end of this episode. When I saw the image of  her book cover, I thought, this is it! A picture says a million words.


I had no idea that her book cover, and original image, was created by Lena Reifinger at Indiana University and 10 years later, we are still looking and thinking about solutions to better serve our students or those we work for by improving our communication skills and being mindful that words really can change our brain.

Leading me back to Jack Carew’s 10 unique strategies that Og Mandino encouraged us all to read to improve our communication and influence with others. I’ve picked the first five, with some thoughts that tie back to past episodes on the podcast, and I’m sure you will agree with me, just how important these strategies are for us to think about whether we are in the classroom, or workplace. Og Mandino was right. These principles are timeless and relevant, 34 years later.

Strategy 1: Take the Lead 

It’s your job to please those you serve and how you see yourself is critical. You decide how successful you will be. If you think self-defeating thoughts about yourself, your product/what you are selling, or how you are trying to influence others, it will come through. We covered Self-Awareness[xii] in one of our very first episodes, and it’s important enough to have made it to one of Jack’s TOP STRATEGIES.

REMEMBER: With self-image (what you think about yourself and what you are selling) can be felt. When we connect with someone, it’s called neural resonance in the brain, and when something conflicts, it’s called cognitive dissonance. Take the lead with confidence and it will be noticed. Everyone loves a confident leader.

Strategy 2: Stop Looking Out for Number One 

Of course, it’s natural for us to be self-interested, but to experience long term success, we must put others ahead of our own wants and needs.  

You’ve got to know your customer or who you are serving, what’s important to them, and what they want. 

In the business world, we create avatars for our customers and it’s important that everything we do is for them. It should be in the back of our head all of the time. 

REMEMBER: What they (or those we serve) want is more important than anything, so we must align our solutions (or what we offer) to their needs (whatever they might be). Setting our own thoughts aside, we must uncover what it is that  those we serve want and need, and then solve it.

Strategy 3: Invest in the Relationship 

We covered “Building Relationships” with Greg Wolcott on EPISODE #7[xiii] and again on EPISODE #9[xiv]  and it’s important to note that when we have taken the time to invest in relationships with those we serve, we can easily overcome those difficult challenges that will come our way.

REMEMBER: Jack wrote “invest” in the relationship, as that investment is what it will take to overcome times of challenge or difficulty. A solid foundation must be built first and then anything is possible.

Strategy 4: Bring Your Energy to the Customer 

This is my favorite one of Jack’s strategies because when you’ve got this one, anything is possible.

I know you’ve seen it and felt it—that electric energy that shows up when you connect to someone at the brain level.  It’s what will make you memorable and why I think you’ll never get a no when you’ve got this level of connection with another person.

I covered the valuable lesson I learned from the Legendary Bob Proctor on episode #66[xv] where Bob taught me about the importance of generating energy from within and reminded me to never show, or say that I’m tired, even when I was. This lesson stuck with me to this day and it’s impossible to miss when you see it.

REMEMBER: This strategy takes some work on your part. Through diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep, that we talk about on the Bonus Episode “A Deep Dive into the Top 5 Health Staples”[xvi] we will be able to operate at a higher level to make this connection with those we serve. When it’s there, you’ll notice a magic that makes work more enjoyable, less stressful and fun.

Strategy 5: Get Organized 

Organization shows up, whether it’s in your home, how you keep your car, to your desk, and computer. It’s something that can be noticed right away.

I love Q4 or year end, as I have always joined my good friend Jim Bunch on his yearly calls where he walks us through a way to clean up our year and prepare to move into the next year. Listen to episode #103[xvii] for some ideas to close out this year, prepare for a new year, and get organized, with your brain in mind.

REMEMBER: Getting organized sets you ahead of the game and creates order and space for the New Year for whatever it is that you want to create. Getting organized translates to getting ahead, and can transform your workplace, with significant advantages in sales, like knowing and planning where your sales will come from, having a solid pipeline, and setting the tone for the rest of the year, much like the sports team who gets that first point early in the game, there’s a competitive advantage to this sense of organization that builds momentum.

I’ll let you read Jack’s book for the other 5 strategies, but sure you can see how an understanding of our brain can improve our communication and influence, taking our results to greater heights.

This closes out this week’s Brain Fact Friday! Will see you next week with our first Panel Interview with Dr. Howard Rankin, Dr. Jon Lieff, Horacio Sanchez and Tom Beakbane  as well as with Dr. Brian Stenzler on the importance of mental health for our next generation. We also have a fascinating interview coming up with the CEO of Rewire, a human performance company that provides evidence-based solutions for tracking athlete readiness, building mental resilience, and improving mind/body recovery. 

Wishing you a productive weekend, and see you next week.


[i] You’ll Never Get No for an Answer by Jack Carew Published in 1987

[ii] The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino Published

[iii]  Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #68 “The Neuroscience of Personal Change with Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

[iv] A History of fMRI

[v] Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Robert Waldman, Published July 30, 2013

[vi] Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Robert Waldman, Published July 30, 2013

[vii] Take in the Good by Dr. Rick Hanson


[ix]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #16 with Dr. Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight on “The Future of Educational Neuroscience in Our Schools”

[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #56 with Dr. Lori Desautels on “Connections Over Compliance”

[xi] How May I Serve You by Dr. Lori Desautels Published Feb. 7, 2012

[xii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #2 on “Self-Awareness: Know Thyself”

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #7 “Building Relationships in Today’s Classrooms” with Greg Wolcott

[xiv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #9 “Using Your Brain to Build and Sustain Effective Relationships”

[xv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #66 “The Legendary Bob Proctor”  

[xvi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE on “ A Deep Dive into the Top 5 Health Staples” and Review of Seasons 1-4

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #103 on “The Neuroscience of Leadership: 3 Ways to Reset, Recharge and Refuel Your Brain for Your Best Year Ever.[xvii]

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