The #1 Happiness Secret: Know Your Brain Type

Brain Type

[Excerpted from You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type by Daniel G. Amen, MD]

You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and brain health expert Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, he reveals how to discover your brain type and tailor happiness strategies best suited to your brain type. This book also shows how to improve your overall brain health to consistently enhance your mood, protect your happiness by distancing yourself from the “noise” in your head, and make 7 simple decisions and ask 7 daily questions to boost your happiness.

Pre-order now and receive 4 amazing free gifts, including the You Happier Cookbook by Tana Amen, the 30-Day Happiness Course and Workbook, and an exclusive event with Dr. Amen on March 8th where he will answer audience questions. Pre-order here.

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


In the late 1980s, when I started looking at the brain, I was searching for tools to help me be more effective with my patients. I loved being a psychiatrist but quickly realized psychiatrists were handicapped compared to other medical specialists. Making diagnoses solely based on symptom clusters—such as anxiety, depression, addiction, or a short attention span—was inadequate. Symptoms didn’t tell us anything about the underlying biology of the problems. All other medical professionals look at the organs they treat, but as psychiatrists, we were taught to guess and assume the underlying biological mechanisms for issues such as depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and addiction without ever looking at the brain, even though our patients were every bit as sick as those with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

In 1991, we added brain SPECT imaging to our toolbox. SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans evaluate blood flow and activity patterns in the brain. Structural CT or MRI scans, which you’ve probably heard of, only assess brain anatomy. SPECT looks at how the brain functions and basically tells us three things about brain activity: if it is healthy, underactive, or overactive.

Initially, my team started by naively looking for unique electrical or blood flow signature patterns for each of the major psychiatric issues—such as depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, and ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)—but we soon discovered there was not one brain pattern associated with any of these illnesses.

They all had multiple types that required their own treatments, which made sense because there will never be just one pattern for depression given that not all depressed people are the same. Some are withdrawn, others are angry, and still others are anxious or obsessive. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to people with any mental health issue based solely on their symptoms invites failure and frustration. Understanding your type of brain is critical to getting the right help.

As we clinicians were working on understanding brain type and psychiatric issues, we also began to realize we were seeing features of personality in the scans.

  • If your brain showed full, even, symmetrical activity overall, we called it Balanced.
  • If the front part of your brain was sleepy or lower in activity compared to others, you were more likely to be creative, impulsive, and Spontaneous.
  • If the front part of your brain was much more active than average, like Jim’s, you tended to worry and be more
  • If your emotional or limbic brain was more active than average, you tended to be more vulnerable to sadness and be more Sensitive.
  • If your amygdala and basal ganglia were more active than average, you tended to be more anxious and Cautious.

The scans began to 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. Knowing your brain type helps you know more about how you interact with the world, but it also helps you know how to optimize your specific brain to smooth out some of the rough edges in your life and understand what is more likely to make you or your loved ones happy.

In my book, You, Happier, I will share what makes each brain type happy and what makes them unhappy. Knowing your brain type is the key to finding the happiness strategies that work best for you. Pre-order here.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already learned how to have a happier brain and a happier life at Amen Clinics, speak 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

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