1015: Hack Your Brain for Unlimited Potential with Andrew Huberman | School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

Key Takeaways

  • There’s an inseparable relationship between the brain and body
  • With current technology, we can understand and measure states such as alertness, focus, sleep, creativity, stress  
  • It’s hard to talk yourself out of an emotional state – you need to take action
  • “Double inhale (through the nose) followed by an extended exhale (through the mouth) is the fastest way to bring the mind and body into a more relaxed state.” – Andrew Huberman
  • High-intensity interval training, breathing practices, and cold showers/ice baths teach the mind to be calm in the face of intensity and adrenaline
  • High achievers attach dopamine to the effort process, not the result

Introduction

Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. (@hubermanlab) is a neuroscientist at Stanford University who studies how the brain functions, how it can change through experience, and how to repair damaged brain circuits.

In this episode of School of Greatness, Lewis Howes sits down with Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. for the first part of a two-part series covering a wide range of topics related to the mind-body connection, our brain and its control over emotions and experiences, why the most productive individuals reward the journey versus the end goal and dopamine for high performance.  

Host: Lewis Howes (@LewisHowes)

Mind-Body Connection

  • The body has a profound influence on our mind
  • There’s an inseparable relationship between the brain and body
  • The brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) are extensively connected with the body and vice versa
  • The body manifests what the mind tells us

Emotion Versus State

  • Emotions are hard to describe in an objective fashion, but “states” allow us to study them in laboratories and experimentation
  • Emotional experience is a state of mind
  • “State of mind” includes activity of the brain and the body
  • “States” have a beginning, middle, and end and measurable intensity
  • With currently available technology, we can understand states such as alertness, focus, sleep, creativity, stress  
  • The brain does 5 things: sensation (actual visual stimulus), perception (which sensation you are paying attention to), thoughts (combination of perception and contact memory), feelings/emotions (more abstract recruitment of brain and body), actions (concrete, measurable pathways)
  • Memories and intuition underly brain mechanisms
  • Emotional states of mind recruit the whole nervous system

Is Depression A Disease?

  • Anxiety-associated depression: feeling agitation, fatigue, apathy in the body
  • Depressive states are bad when they bring down the baseline of our natural state
  • Depression is wired into us as a possible state we can all fall into
  • When the baseline goes down far enough, it’s hard to do the things we need to improve our state
  • “We are all responsible for our own mental health…only we can direct our brain changes. We are the only ones that can change our brain.” – Andrew Huberman
  • There are predispositions, genetics, trauma that can put people on the path to depression
  • It’s hard to talk yourself out of an emotional state – we need action steps

Change Brain State: Action Steps

  • When the mind isn’t where we want it to be, we need to use the body to intervene
  • The mind plays an important role in interpreting whether events inflict stress
  • Use breathing to shift brain state quickly
  • “Double inhale (through the nose) followed by an extended exhale (through the mouth) is the fastest way to bring the mind and body into a more relaxed state.” – Andrew Huberman
  • Wim Hoff breathing: 30 huge breaths, taking one big breath in and holding for 15 seconds, then big breath out
  • Wim Hoff/Tummo breathing increase level of alertness and stimulates adrenaline release in a positive way triggering the body to respond to stress
  • Cold shower and ice bath also stimulate the body
  • Tummo breathing increases the level of alertness
  • High-intensity interval training, breathing practices, and cold showers/ice baths teach the mind to be calm in the face of intensity and adrenaline

Dopamine For High Performance    

  • Thoughts happen spontaneously and can be deliberately introduced  
  • It’s hard to control negative thoughts by trying to suppress them   
  • There’s a neurochemical basis for controlling stress related to the dopamine pathway
  • Most of the dopamine release is not from achieving goals but the path toward the goal
  • High achievers attach dopamine to the effort process, not the result
  • Dopamine is one of the strongest triggers of neuroplasticity (i.e., the brain’s ability to change itself based on experience)
  • Hallmark of growth mindset #1: I’m not where I want to be now but will get there
  • Hallmark of growth mindset #2: attach reward to the effort process itself  
  • Dopamine is subjectively controlled but it needs to be rooted in reality  
  • Dopamine can buffer the adrenaline and epinephrine released during high-effort activity
  • “Dopamine is not just about reward, it’s about motivation and drive that propels you along a path.” – Andrew Huberman
  • Dopamine allows us to be in effort longer and enjoy the process
  • Adrenaline and epinephrine are about effort
  • Dopamine is about motivation and pursuit of reward
  • Serotonin is also about the reward but from different, more relaxing stimuli (sleep, meditation, etc)
  • Keeping the goal in mind is important but the gap between where you are and where you want to go can be overwhelming 
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Notes By Maryann

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