The #1 Happiness Secret: Know Your Brain Type

Brain Type

How can you be happier? You need to know your Brain Type!

For decades, social scientists have been searching for the roots of happiness. Based on their research, it is generally accepted that happiness is about 40% genetic (you inherit it from your ancestors), 10% your situation in life or what happens to you, and 50% habits and mindset. This means you have a higher degree of control over happiness than most people think.

Researchers typically report happiness being associated with novelty, fun experiences, positive relationships, laughter, gratitude, anticipation, helping others, staying away from comparisons, meditation, nature, living in the moment (rather than the past with regret or the future with fear), productive work, a sense of purpose, spiritual beliefs, and wanting what you have opposed to wanting more.

Yet most happiness research completely misses one important aspect: It is critical to target happiness strategies to your unique brain type—a one-size-fits-all approach will never work.

Most happiness research completely misses one important aspect: It is critical to target happiness strategies to your unique brain type—a one-size-fits-all approach will never work. Click To Tweet


For over three decades, Amen Clinics has been using brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of mental, cognitive, and behavioral health conditions. SPECT measures blood flow and activity in the brain and basically shows three things: areas of the brain with healthy activity, too little activity, and too much activity.

The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics shows that mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression or ADD/ADHD, are not single or simple disorders. They all have multiple types associated with different brain patterns, and they all require their own treatments. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to treating people with mental health issues based solely on their symptoms invites failure and frustration. Understanding your type of brain is critical to getting the right help.

Just as the brain imaging work at Amen Clinics is changing the way mental health is diagnosed and treated, it is also changing the way we think about personality and happiness.

After analyzing a database of over 200,000 scans, it has become clear that the brain patterns seen on SPECT correlate with 5 primary personality types.

  • If your brain shows full, even, symmetrical activity overall, you tend to be Balanced.
  • If the front part of your brain is sleepy or lower in activity compared to others, you are more likely to be creative, impulsive, and Spontaneous.
  • If the front part of your brain is much more active than average, you tend to worry and be more
  • If your emotional or limbic brain is more active than average, you tend to be more vulnerable to sadness and be more Sensitive.
  • If your amygdala and basal ganglia are more active than average, you tend to be more anxious and Cautious.

The brain scans tell an important story about who people are, how they think, how they act, how they interact with other human brains, and what makes them happy.


Happiness means different things to different people. Knowing your brain type is the key to finding the happiness strategies that work best for you. Here are some basic findings of the 5 primary brain types and what makes them happy and unhappy.

Balanced Brain Type

People with the Balanced Brain Type tend to go through life in an organized fashion and generally do well in school and on the job. They are the neighbors we want next door.

What makes people with the Balanced Brain Type happy?

  • Healthy relationships
  • Meaningful work
  • Financial security

What makes people with the Balanced Brain Type unhappy?

  • Excessive risk-taking
  • Missing assignments
  • Being around people who are undependable, negative, or don’t play by the rules

Spontaneous Brain Type

Spontaneous Brain Types can be the life of the party. In a way, the traits seen in this type represent some of the characteristics we admire most as Americans—risk-taking, creativity, and adventurousness. But this type can have trouble with focus and attention, and there is a vulnerability for ADD/ADHD.

What makes people with the Spontaneous Brain Type happy?

  • Trying new things
  • Trying an extreme sport
  • Watching scary movies

What makes people with the Spontaneous Brain Type unhappy?

  • Boredom, sameness, and familiarity
  • Having a deadline
  • Having to wait in line

Persistent Brain Type

People with the Persistent Brain Type like to get up in the morning and attack the day. They tend to pursue goals with dogged determination, but they can get hung up on worries and are usually rigid in their thinking. In some cases, they may be susceptible to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), addictive behaviors, and eating disorders.

What makes people with the Persistent Brain Type happy?

  • Being in charge
  • Having the respect of others
  • Predictable days

What makes people with the Persistent Brain Type unhappy?

  • People who don’t do what they said they were going to do
  • Failure
  • Having the rules changed

Sensitive Brain Type

Sensitive types have a way of sensing and feeling emotions in ways that many others aren’t capable of doing. This brain type is common among nurses, therapists, and pastors, as well as artistic types. These people may be prone to depression.

What makes people with the Sensitive Brain Type happy?

  • Listening to calming music
  • Thinking deep thoughts
  • Writing, painting, and other creative ways to express their emotions

What makes people with the Sensitive Brain Type unhappy?

  • Negative thoughts that won’t go away
  • Being socially disconnected from others
  • Driving on busy boulevards

Cautious Brain Type

Having the Cautious Brain Type is associated with being prepared, thinking about the consequences of what you say or do before you do it, avoiding risks, and being on time. In some people with this brain type, anxiety or panic disorders may be present.

What makes people with the Cautious Brain Type happy?

  • Everything being in its place and having a place for everything
  • A warm bath at the end of the day
  • Making a pros-and-cons list before a big decision

What makes people with the Cautious Brain Type unhappy?

  • Being in a chaotic environment
  • Being late for an appointment
  • Having too much to do

To be happier, you must also support your Brain Type with targeted brain foods, brain supplements, brain exercises, and other strategies. To find your Brain Type (there are a total of 16 Brain Types) and get personalized recommendations on how to optimize it, take our 5-minute Brain Health Assessment.

Depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, OCD, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. My son and I came to your clinic in 2012 and both had brain scans done. It gives so much insight into what was going on specifically each of us. I highly recommend having it done as it saves a lot of time and guesswork with regards to treatment and lifestyle solutions.

    Comment by Kim Kalil — December 22, 2021 @ 3:09 AM

  2. But how do I know my brain type without a scan?

    Comment by Bill — December 22, 2021 @ 3:36 AM

  3. Under ” If the front part of your brain was much more active than average, like Jim’s, you tended to worry and be more” Who is Jim and how were you going to finish the sentence?
    I love your work and have been following you from the beginning of your Amen Clinics media campaign. I have helped many people understand themselves better as a counselor/life coach/health coach. We have magnificent brains. I also work with NLP since the 1980’s and love the ability to reframe unhealthy thoughts. You “One Page Miracle” is very useful. Thank you for all your wisdom and putting it out in the world.

    Comment by Janet — December 22, 2021 @ 5:14 AM

  4. I bought your book years ago.

    Comment by Patty — December 22, 2021 @ 5:37 AM

  5. What if some one strongly identifies with ALL FIVE of the brain types you bullet-point in this article?

    Comment by Mike Joseph — December 22, 2021 @ 6:01 AM

  6. Does the book tell you how to know what kind of brain you have? Or do you have to have the scan first?
    I had a scan at the Newport Beach office many many years ago. I wish I had a copy of it. How far back does your record storage go back? I can’t afford to get another one.
    I actually was part of a study. I worked for Gail Wetzler, PT and was asked if I wanted to participate. I ended up having my Son done as well, not for the study.

    Comment by Diana Hart — December 22, 2021 @ 6:42 AM

  7. Does this book address brain type 8?

    Comment by Nancy Luca — December 22, 2021 @ 9:07 AM

  8. But what does blood flow in the scans have to do with brain function? It sounds like you’re saying there’s a direct correlation? Sounds reasonable to a non medical person but If SPECT works so well, why don’t other neurologists agree on this as a proper diagnosis tool?

    Comment by Chris — December 22, 2021 @ 10:06 AM

  9. Hello,
    Does pre-ordering the book benefits (cookbook, etc) apply to Canadians or just Americans?

    Comment by Nu — December 22, 2021 @ 10:56 AM

  10. Hello Nu, thank you for reaching out. The book pre-order is for anyone, and the bonus gifts as well!

    Comment by Amen Clinics — December 22, 2021 @ 12:16 PM

  11. Hello Chris, thank you for reaching out. Here is more information about brain SPECT imaging: ; For additional questions and information, you can reach our Care Coordinators here:,

    Comment by Amen Clinics — December 22, 2021 @ 12:18 PM

  12. Someone closely related to me has currently a 6 year old child who is autistic. I would appreciate it very much if you could provide me with updates on what the future holds for such persons or alternatively if you could send me a website which I could make use of.

    Comment by Habtu — December 22, 2021 @ 3:43 PM

  13. You, Happier just ad another interesting layer to the Amen brain types treatment protocols as reflected in the BHCC program I am busy with. I also found bio/neuro feedback both interesting and useful, but need more information on the specific application in the context of the different brain types. Any references will really be appreciated.

    Comment by Theuns Volschenk — December 23, 2021 @ 1:04 AM

  14. I live in Sydney, Australia. Is there a specialist who might do these scans and diagnose here? Thank you

    Comment by Laura Hey — December 26, 2021 @ 7:22 PM

  15. How much is a scan & I’m in Palm Springs. Where are u located?

    Comment by Robbin — March 16, 2022 @ 7:15 AM

  16. Hello… Have a couple of Doc Amens books.. love them.. even had my 90+ father read them…Question, “Could you please tell me the closest clinic to Chico CA?.. thank you

    Comment by Deborah Rich — March 16, 2022 @ 8:38 AM

  17. I love the idea of getting the brain scan and I appreciate that it can tell you many things. However I don’t need a brain scan to know what brain type I have I am a limbic brain type. I wonder if your book will provide information about the kinds of things and lifestyle to make my brain happy.

    Comment by Megan — March 16, 2022 @ 10:15 AM

  18. Hello Deborah, thank you for reaching out. At this time, we have 3 clinics in California – Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Francisco –

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 17, 2022 @ 8:56 AM

  19. Hello Robbin, thank you for reaching out. At this time, we have 3 clinics in California – Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Francisco – For more information about pricing, insurance, and financing options, please contact our Care Coordinators:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 17, 2022 @ 8:57 AM

  20. How can I get my brain scan to know what my brain type is?

    Comment by Christine — June 4, 2022 @ 4:01 AM

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