Look around and ask yourself, could things be better? We believe the answer is a resounding yes. And this is our ultimate goal in bringing out our new book, Brain Wash.
Brain Wash is a functional roadmap for understanding how so much of what characterizes our modern world influences our brains and, most importantly, our decision-making. From our modern diets to our lack of restorative sleep to our virtual addiction to our digital experiences, the trappings of modern times actually conspire to keep us unfulfilled, impulsive, and self-centered. Brain Wash begins by bringing these powerful influences into stark reality. We present a framework for appreciating the negative impact of these exposures, and then provide a set of practical interventions for reclaiming our brains and improving our physical and mental health.
We’re all taking part in a grand experiment, and it’s our health and happiness that are at stake. Indeed, the very wiring of our brains has been altered to keep us hooked on devices and activities that do not benefit us. Our attention has been commoditized and our emotions manipulated for the profits of others. In addition, modern life has simply not been set up to optimize for happiness or health. Multiple factors contribute to our epidemics of anxiety, depression, obesity, chronic disease and loneliness, but one central factor at play is that we are trapped in a spiral of impulsive, short-term, unhealthy decisions. Clearly, there’s a better way to live our lives.
But, as we reveal, the deck is stacked against us. In fact, billions of dollars are spent each year to explicitly make it harder for each and every one of us to escape the constellation of short-term thinking and poor physical and mental health outcomes we have labeled “disconnection syndrome.” But if we want to live lives of joy, purpose and health, we must make the break now. We cannot allow ourselves to default to the norm when the majority of us are unwell. We must consciously choose our path forward if we hope to change for the better, because the incentive structure governing the most potent external influences on our minds and bodies is not looking out for our best interests.
The Brain Wash Promise
You can reclaim your physical and mental health and reshape your life for the better. But you can’t do that until you understand the reality of modern living. The first step to decreasing the hold of instant gratification and poor decision-making is to understand how it became the default for so many of our choices. When you can see how and why you’ve been targeted, manipulated and otherwise convinced to adopt unhealthy practices, and the mental and physical consequences of these influences, you can start to recreate your life in a way that better serves you.
We explore the incredible degree of ongoing manipulation of our brain’s basic functionality through commercial messages convincing us that short-term fixes are the route to happiness, digital media platforms that expose us to purposefully addictive content, targeted attention-grabs and unrealistic comparisons as well as the synergistic impact of over-consumption of ultra-processed food in activating these same reward networks in the brain. We explain the impact of our negativity bias in the news, and how the current atmosphere of tribalism and polarization over-activates a specific brain area, the amygdala, diminishing the ability of the more rational prefrontal cortex to make well thought-out, balanced decisions.
We then explain how chronic stress, sleep deficit, and inflammation all contribute to compounding the situation, exploring the fascinating research showing that these modern day stressors actually change neural structures, brain activation networks, and, most concerning, dramatically shift our thinking to short-term, emotionally reactive, and less empathetic patterns. The Western diet, well-known to enhance inflammation, is now spreading globally. This threatens to change how people see the world around them and, most importantly, the decisions they make. In a very real sense, our very future, even in terms of how we treat our planet, is threatened by the dramatic change in the global diet.
We then shift gears towards the positive and empowering part of our story as we introduce practical methods for reducing these assaults to our brains and decision-making by covering the recent research on the health benefits of lifestyle choices like nature-exposure, especially as it pertains to lowering levels of stress. We cover the research on the diverse benefits seen with mindful/meditative practices, with a specific focus on data suggesting better top-down prefrontal control over the impulsive amygdala that happens with meditation. We also look at dietary changes designed to reduce inflammation and help us release our brains from being directed by amygdala-based impulsivity. We finish our review of pragmatic interventions with the benefits associated with interpersonal connection (emphasizing in-person connection).
Brain Wash concludes with a powerful a 10-day plan designed to help readers implement each of our recommendations into their lives. For example, we include the TIME tool for application to digital exposure (Time-restricted, Intentional, Mindful, Enriching).
So watch the trailer above, and learn how you can regain control of your decision-making for health, happiness, and undoubtedly, a better world! We can’t wait to get this book in your hands.
-David and Austin