The 3 Main Things Dr. Daniel Amen Would Tell His 23-Year-Old Self

Blog-Dr. Daniel Amen Vanguard Commencement

In some ways, we’re all graduates in the class of 2018. We may not be getting a degree or wearing a cap and gown, but as life-long learners about health, we have reflections, revelations, and insights from the 2018 educational journey of life.

Commencement speakers across the country are giving graduates advice about life, relationships, finding success, and the keys to true happiness. Their speeches will encourage graduates to follow their dreams, polish their strengths, and embrace their passions as they march to the beat of their own drum and we can all relate to that.

Our Amen Clinics founder, Dr. Daniel Amen gave the commencement speech for Vanguard University nearly 40 years to the day he graduated there. In his speech, he discussed the three main things he would tell his 23-year-old self, knowing what he does now.

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

This whole topic got us thinking about an interesting question that is worth pondering. If you could go back to your graduation from grade school, high school, or college, and regardless if it was 3, 13, 30 or 50 years ago, what would you say?

With the power of your life lessons in hand, what would you tell your younger self on graduation day? What would you emphasize, what would you avoid, and what would you succinctly and simply advise?

Here are 3 things Dr. Amen shared with the audience at Vanguard University as he gave the annual commencement speech:

1. Pray more about your path, relationships, and best ways to make a difference.
2. Always choose passion over money, if you have a way to support yourself.
3. Stop caring what others think of you and do the work God put you on Earth to do.

Never Stop Learning

There are many ways to optimize your brain and your mind. You CAN create a brain healthy life by learning how to love and care for your brain, and by focusing on what you love about your life a lot more than what you don’t. Take what you have learned, develop a brain healthy life and teach it to others. If you, or someone you love, could benefit from an evaluation at Amen Clinics, call our Care Coordinators today at 888-288-9834 or tell us more online.


  1. Wow so powerful! Your perseverance Dr. Amen is changing our health and lives. I’m sorry for the uphill climb this has been for you. Personally I hope the cost of SPECT imaging comes down and is more available for so many of us that need it. My sincere appreciation for your work! Columbus, OH.

    Comment by Laurie — May 16, 2018 @ 3:56 AM

  2. What an amazing talk! Thank you so much for sharing!!! God bless you and the work you do!!!

    Comment by Pennyfp — May 16, 2018 @ 4:51 AM

  3. Love it. I met Daniel amen at a conference many years ago. I’ve been referring doctor Amen to many of my clients.

    Dr. Amen, I would like to personally come down to your facility and meet you to see how we could best work together. My website is and I have always been a firm believer in what you do and passionate about helping people effectively thrive in life.

    My phone number is 661-904-0113 I truly hope to hear from you. I subscribe to your philosophies And if God sees fit for us to somehow connect and use our gifts for the greater good, then we will meet.

    I thank you for sharing this speech. I’ll be sure to forward it on to others. Much love, Dilyse

    Comment by Dilyse Diaz — May 16, 2018 @ 6:18 AM

  4. I believe in your work and love your talk.There has got to be a way to make the scans affordable. I can’t help but think that money has gone to your head. If your passion is truly helping people, then come up with a way to make it affordable or covered by Medicare and others. Thank you for your work…joan perry

    Comment by joan perry — May 16, 2018 @ 8:47 AM

  5. I love Dr Amen & believe in his work, if the cost of the spect imaging came down so that people could afford it, imagine how many lives would be touched that truly need it. My whole family needs it, there’s 5 of us, but my 25 year old son needs it the most. There’s just no way we can afford it.
    My son always struggled with some brain issue. Throwing temper tantrums, poor grades & feeling like he wasn’t smart enough & thinking there was something wrong with him. Then he suffered a major head trauma (he was beaten nearly to death with a baseball bat 9 years ago at age 16) I feel Dr Amen could really help him.
    I hope the cost becomes more affordable or can be covered by insurance so people can benefit from the brain imaging and Dr Amen can help more people that need it. It’s currently out of reach the most average families.

    Comment by Ann Marie Packard — May 16, 2018 @ 8:48 AM

  6. I love him too and all of his work , so I am doing his course work to hopefullly work with him someday

    Comment by I love him too and all of his work , so I am doing his course work to hopefullly work with him someday — May 16, 2018 @ 2:23 PM

  7. I totally agree, I love the work Dr Amen is doing and wish there was a way I could get a scan that was in reach to help my grandson. Please find a way to make work

    Comment by Helena bialowas — May 16, 2018 @ 3:46 PM

  8. Yes, I wish that the cost would come down for those that can’t afford it. I suffer with severe depression, anger, and had thoughts of suicide. I can’t keep a job longer than a year and it’s getting worse. I’m causing my 4 year old daughter to be terrified of me b/c of my anger. I’ve always had a dream of becoming a Natural Doctor but I can’t even take care of myself and family. I love your work though.

    Comment by T. A. — May 16, 2018 @ 11:26 PM

  9. I wish I had known this 40 years ago. Three and a half years ago Thanksgiving I stopped eating wheat and my health did a complete turn around. When I added 10,000 iu. vitamin D daily it broke a lifelong depression. For forty years I felt like you do now. Suicide though is never an option. Dr Amens SPEC analysis would give you scientific proof that you are not well, but you already know that. You can however follow his diet recommendations and I assure you, that as unlikely as you think it is, a wheat free diet with vitamin and mineral supplementation will help you. A short list that I have experienced reversal of enlarged prostate, sleep apnea, alcohol addiction, cataracts, improved night vision, back pain, fibromyalgia, foot pain, chronic abdominal pain, esophageal reflux, lifelong mouth breather turned nose breather. I went from 185 pounds to 160 then back up to my optimum 170 pounds without any “dieting”. The key was no wheat and fix the malnutrition. So far I have found myself deficient in Iron, Iodine, magnesium, vitamin D, lutein, B5. Adding these each showed a significant improvement in different areas once I got the levels high enough. If nothing else try the vitamin D. Years ago they found that sitting in front of a light box could improve Seasonal Depression. How is it they never figured out that the light caused the skin to produce vitamin D, and so improved mood?

    Comment by Paul — May 17, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

  10. The cost of Dr amen programs are for the wealthy. I love his appoach and his thinking, he has developed real treatments for many but the costs are prohibited for many.

    Comment by Helen — May 20, 2018 @ 6:16 AM

  11. I too, pray that the scans and visits to Amen Clinic become more affordable so more can get the help they need!!! And yes for medicare/insurance will cover this.

    Comment by Ellen — May 21, 2018 @ 3:20 PM

  12. Dr. Amen is a remarkable man. I admire his work. I have purchased his book “Captain Snout and the SuperPower Questions” to use with my students. I hope the scans become affordable for people. It is silly to have something so within reach yet so unattainable. So many lives could be changed. Blessings from Iowa

    Comment by Jill Curry — May 22, 2018 @ 10:16 AM

  13. Paul, thank you for your encouragement. I agree cost should come down. In the meantime we should work to get insurances to conver the scan. We should work to increase the knowledge and acceptance by Dr’s this should be routine treatment or ordered as necessary. In addition Dr’s need to be educated on the benefits of diet as treatment for brain disorders. The evidence is there and yet this so called intelligent group of individuals insist on continuing to stay with outdated treatment regiments for brain disorders. They wouldn’t think twice about buying the most up to date technology for their phones. Those of us who do understand MUST become more vocal and advocate for change in the treatment of brain disorders. As we get better, let our journey and knowledge help someone else. It’s the only way to restore a life for the millions who are losing theirs to these diseases.

    Comment by maryam m suluki — June 3, 2018 @ 4:13 AM

  14. Please! Everyone should stop waiting for the price of the scans to come down and do something positive like changing your diets the way Paul (above) did! Eliminate Gluten that is in all wheat products (hidden too) plus all grains and dairy. If people would only do these few things, they might find that their depression, anger and problems with their concentration, digestion, energy and a lot of other problems would decrease just as much as Paul’s did. It helped me with many other problems besides. I had to eliminate tomatoes and all veggies in the nightshade family and certain raw nuts and other foods. Read books and recipes for going on diets without those harmful things, there are alternative milks (or make your own, it is easy) that actually taste good and eating more vegetables in place of the grains and wheat products will also eliminate sugar which causes bad symptoms for a lot of people I have been gluten and dairy free for six years and it is much easier now to find recipes and products that are gluten free and dairy free than it was back then. If you can find a functional medicine practitioner, they can be of so much help in diagnosing and advising on diets and even some physical therapies that can be done at home. It will be YEARS before allopathic medicine catches up to the work that Dr. Amen and other functional practitioners do NOW, so don’t waste time waiting when you CAN do something to help yourself NOW! If you have some money to spare and invest in you or your children’s health, find a doctor who will order tests from Cyrex Labs. I have taken two of their tests and that is how I found that I needed to eliminate certain foods that were causing problems. I used Array #4 and Array #10, but your functional medicine practitioner would decide which ones might be what you or your children need. These tests are NOT for allergies but are for finding what foods you cannot TOLERATE. Your primary care physician likely does not know about “Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or gluten sensitivity” and would not be able to order the test for you. Insurance doe NOT pay for it.

    Comment by Susie Henderson — June 22, 2018 @ 4:55 PM

  15. see above. charge too much.

    Comment by I confess that I agree w/ you. Why has the bulk of psychiatry questioned the validity of SPECT testing? As much volume as you do, no small thanks to PBS, you should be able to charge less. — September 2, 2018 @ 7:29 PM

  16. Thanks Joan, I agree with you 100%.

    Comment by Expensive — September 2, 2018 @ 7:32 PM

  17. Couldn’t agree more. Thnx for sharing

    Comment by Amen — September 2, 2018 @ 7:36 PM

  18. This is so true!! Most average families cannot afford these life-changing scans.

    Comment by Ellen — September 5, 2018 @ 11:08 PM

  19. Dr.Amen you truly speak with such sincerity and you do want to help others but this brain scans are for the wealthy I can’t afford it please bring down the cost .

    Comment by Carmen N Zayas — October 1, 2018 @ 10:51 PM

  20. Thank You!! 1985 I was mal treated in a hospital in my hometown Luleå , North of Sweden. It made me paretic from top toe. Took a bit of my talking function. Took my ability to read . Took my ability to write.
    I FOUGHT my way back!! It took some years and I am, after more than 34 years still trying to get functions back, a little bit here, a little bit there 🙂
    I had the most wonderful doctor; Bela Almay, he said; do what you fell to do, don’t care if it takes six times more time and don’t care about what other people think you should and shouldn’t !
    Before the mal treatment I went to alternative medical school for 4 years.
    I ‘ve meditating since I was small, “don’t care about her, she is a strange child” my parents said.
    When I study medicin at an age of 36 I more and more started to care about my brains ability. What could it do? What could it help me to achieve?
    Growing up I had no affection what so ever from my parents, I was the irritating child who was born in the middle of a divorce. I was often beaten by my biological mother and offended.
    Out of this grow the feeling for others, so that I was able to give care and affection, and out of that getting affection for myself! Helping and caring for others brightens up your life and makes you stronger.
    In that moment I unconsciously started to give my self brain rehabilitation!!
    ALWAYS put the wellbeing for others in front of myself. That functioned as an armor towards my mothers malignancy.
    Life stroke me badly when the maltreatment disabled me physically and mentally, but that lasted only the first months when I was at the university clinic in Umeå. I asked for physiotherapy and got the answer that it was to early, I still got bleedings in my brain, I was not allowed to strain myself. I answered; I am not going to strain myself, I just want you to move my arms and legs so that they would not lose the movement patterns. I won and was looked upon as a difficult stubben patient.
    To make this long story a little shorter; I forced my brain to start writing again, took me about 5-6 months. When I could not speak the words I wanted I looked for the first letter and from that maybe force the right word out of my mouth, in my brain I ALWAYS knew the word, but it would not come out.
    So also with some movements. I am in a wheelchair but in my brain I walk!! I train every day, and if I can’t do the movement with my body, I do the movement in my brain! If I could live my life again I would strive to be one of Your patients/students/colleagues/ !! God bless You!!
    Many warm greetings from
    Bambi Elinsdotter Oskarsson
    singer broadcaster columnist
    You are a amazing person and I get so much from You speeches!!
    I have since that always been communicating with my brain! Been grateful to this beautiful computer of ours!!

    Comment by Bambi Elinsdotter Oskarsson — February 28, 2022 @ 4:10 AM

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