The Brain Warrior’s Way

UPDATED: May 27, 2024
PUBLISHED: November 22, 2016

The war for your health is won or lost between your ears, in the moment-by-moment decisions your brain makes every day. When your brain works right, your decisions are much more likely to be effective and add laserlike focus, energy and health to your life. When your brain is troubled, for whatever reason, you are much more likely to make bad decisions that steal your energy, focus, moods, memory, and health and lead to your early destruction and trouble in future generations.

Related: It Only Takes 5 Minutes a Day to Keep Your Brain Healthy

Bushido (Japanese: “way of the warrior”) is the code of ethics for the samurai. It is a way of living that is required to be a warrior. Samurais ascribe to a culture focused on constant, never-ending self-improvement in an effort to protect themselves and those they love. “A warrior is someone who is committed to master oneself at all levels, who develops the courage to do the right thing for yourself, others, and community,” Mark Divine writes in The Way of the SEAL.

The Brain Warrior’s Way is also a way of living, a clear path we have developed over three decades of helping patients at Amen Clinics have better brains and better lives. This path grounded in scientific research has helped people in the military, businesses, churches, schools and drug rehabilitation centers. Living the Brain Warrior’s Way will improve your decision-making ability and sense of personal power and help your…

The Brain Warrior’s Way was designed to help you live with vitality, a clear mind and excellent health—even if you are struggling or are in pain right now—even if you’ve made unhealthy choices for many years. Genes play a more minor role than you think, and many diseases are born out of unhealthful choices and behaviors, regardless of whether there is a genetic predisposition. The new science of epigenetics has taught us that your habits turn on or off certain genes that make illnesses and early death more or less likely in you, and also in your children and grandchildren. The war for the health of your brain and body is not just about you. It is about generations of you.

Step by step, The Brain Warrior’s Way will show you how to develop a Brain Warrior’s MASTERY over your physical and mental health. It will teach you:

Mindset of a Brain Warrior—knowing your motivation to be healthy and focusing on abundance, never deprivation

Assessment of a Brain Warrior—having a clear strategy, brain health assessment, knowing and optimizing your important numbers, fighting the war on multiple fronts, and always being on the lookout to prevent future trouble

Sustenance of a Brain Warrior—knowing the food and supplements that fuel success and give you a competitive edge

Training of a Brain Warrior—engaging in the daily habits and routines that protect your health

Essence of a Brain Warrior—transforming your pain into passion and knowing why the world is a better place because you are here

Responsibilities of a Brain Warrior—taking the critical step of sharing information and creating your own tribe of Brain Warriors

Yearlong Basic Training of a Brain Warrior—making lasting changes with tools that will last a lifetime

Brain Warriors Advance in Stages: Primitive, Mechanical, Spontaneous

Every martial artist, athlete, or musician remembers how awkward she felt when she first started learning complex moves. Most felt like their bodies would never cooperate. However, over time the moves became smoother, until they eventually felt like second nature. The brain and body needed time to grow, make new connections, and adapt to new ways of working and thinking.

When someone is first starting the Brain Warrior’s Way program she often feels a bit overwhelmed and confused.

  • Hey, where’s the sugar?!
  • Everything in moderation!
  • What happened to the bread and pasta? When are they coming back?
  • But I love French fries and sodas!
  • I don’t know where to shop or what to buy!
  • I don’t want to get 8 hours of sleep!
  • I don’t want to exercise!
  •  I’m too busy, too stressed, too used to my old ways.

We tell our Brain Warriors in training not to worry, because they are in the primitive phase, when things feel impossible and hard, and they think they’ll never be able to do it. It just takes trust, a bit of knowledge, success in feeling better quickly, and persistence to get to the next stage. Pretty soon, often within thirty days if you are on the fast track or thirty to ninety days if you are taking a more incremental approach, your taste buds regenerate themselves, the brain makes new connections and begins to grow, and soon enough, everything becomes easier.

Then you will transition to the mechanical phase, when you develop a healthy rhythm. You find the foods you love, exercises you can do, and brain healthy habits come easier to you. Clarity and energy replace brain fog. You start associating certain foods with feeling happier and more energized or with feeling sadder and more lethargic. It starts to become much easier to make healthy choices. You become better at noticing your negative thought patterns and begin questioning the negative thoughts running through your head. In this phase you still have to closely follow the Brain Warrior’s Way program, because it is not yet second nature to you. This phase may last for one to three months for the fast-track folks and three to six months for the incrementalists.

Related: Healthy Living Equals Successful Living

Our goal is for you to reach the spontaneous phase, when your habits and responses become automatic and second nature. This usually occurs between four and six months for the fast-track folks and six and twelve months for the people who are taking things step by step. And if you persist through your challenges and setbacks, such as job or work challenges, divorce and deaths (which we all experience), the Brain Warrior’s Way will last a lifetime.

In the spontaneous phase, the responses and habits become automatic.

  • Do you want dessert? Yes, but I want something that serves my health, rather than steals from it.
  • Do you want bread before dinner? No.
  • Would you like a second glass of wine? No.
  • You schedule your workouts and rarely miss them, as you would rarely miss your child’s sporting event or a doctor’s appointment. They are important to you.
  • You don’t have to think about your responses because they are spontaneous and habitual in a good way.

Get your black belt in brain health. Being a black belt doesn’t mean you are tougher or stronger or that you don’t get scared. Being a black belt means you never give up, you face your fears, you persevere, and you always get up one more time!


A black belt is just a white belt who never quit.


This gives you permission to fall without failing, as long as you get up and try again. It is a process. Most important, you pass on the information by becoming a mentor to someone who is struggling. To get your black belt you are expected to be a mentor, to teach others your art. By teaching others, you powerfully reinforce in yourself what you’ve learned. It truly is in the giving that we receive.


Excerpted from The Brain Warrior’s Way by Daniel G. Amen, M.D., and Tana Amen, BSN, RN, in agreement with Berkeley, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2016 by Daniel G. Amen, M.D., and Tana Amen, BSN, RN.

Daniel G. Amen, MD, is a double board-certified psychiatrist, professor and 10-time New York Times best-selling author. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on using brain-imaging tools to help optimize and treat his patients. Amen Clinics have one of the highest published success rates for patients. His research was listed as one of the “Top 100 Stories in Science for 2015” by Discover magazine. He has written and hosted 11 highly popular shows about the brain for public television.