Based on my research and the research of many other neuroscientists, here is a list of 70 dos and don'ts to op-timize your own brain function.

Brain Dos

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Eat healthy.

3. Exercise.

4. Think positive healthy thoughts.

5. Love, feed and exercise your internal anteater to rid yourself of ANTs--Automatic Negative Thoughts.

6. Every day, focus on the things you are grateful for in your life.

7. Spend time with positive, uplifting people.

8. Spend time with people you want to be like. (You'll be more likely to become like them.)

9. Work on your people skills to become more connected (enhance limbic bonds).

10. Talk to others in loving, helpful ways.

11. Build a library of wonderful experiences.

12. Learn diaphragmatic breathing.

13. Learn and use self-hypnosis and meditation on a daily basis.

14. Remember the 18/40/60 rule. (At 18, you worry about what everyone's thinking of you. At 40, you don't care. At 60 you recognize that no one's been thinking about you at all--they're all worrying about themselves.)

15. Effectively confront and deal with conflictual situations.

16. Develop clear goals for your life (relationships, work, money and self) and look at them every day.

17. Focus on what you like a lot more than what you don't like.

18. Have meaning, purpose, excitement and stimulation in your life.

19. Do not be another person's stimulant.

20. Think through answers before automatically saying no.

21. Write out options and solutions when you feel stuck.

22. Seek the counsel of others when you feel stuck. (Often just talking about feeling stuck will open new options.)

23. Memorize and recite the Serenity Prayer daily and whenever bothered by repetitive thoughts ("God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.").

24. Don't try to convince someone else who is stuck; take a break and come back to them later.

25. Enhance your memory skills.

26. Sing and hum whenever you can.

27. Make beautiful music a part of your life.

28. Make beautiful smells a part of your life.

29. Make love with your

30. Move in rhythms.

31. Use a skilled psychotherapist when needed.

32. Wear a helmet in high risk situations.

33. Take head injuries seriously, even minor ones.

34. Take medications when needed.

35. Take herbal remedies when needed to optimize brain function.


Brain Don'ts

1. Lie around the house without ever exercising.

2. Ignore concussions.

3. Smoke, drink much caffeine or alcohol, do drugs.

4. Drive without wearing a seatbelt.

5. Ride a motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, roller blade, snowboard, etc., without a helmet.

6. Bang your head when you're frustrated. (Protect the heads of children who are head bangers.)

7. Hang out with people who do drugs, fight, or are involved in other dangerous activities (unless you are looking for brain damage).

8. Allow your breathing to get out of control.

9. Think in black-or-white terms.

10. Think in terms such as "always," "never," "every time," "everyone."

11. Focus on the negative things in your life.

12. Predict the worst.

13. Think only with your feelings.

14. Read other people's minds.

15. Blame other people for your problems.

16. Label yourself or others with negative terms.

17. Beat up yourself or others with guilt.

18. Personalize situations that have little to do with you.

19. Use sex as a weapon with your partner.

20. Talk to others in a hateful way.

21. Push people away.

22. Be around toxic smells.

23. Be around toxic people.

24. Focus too much on what other people think of you. (Odds are they aren't thinking about you at all.)

25. Allow your life to just happen without you directing and planning it.

26. Allow thoughts to go over and over in your head.

27. Automatically say no to others. (Consider first whether what they want fits with your goals.)

28. Automatically say yes to others. (Consider first whether what they want fits with your goals.)

29. Argue with someone who is stuck.

30. Isolate yourself when you feel worried, depressed or panicky.

31. Listen to toxic music.

32. Self-medicate. (When there are problems get help from professionals.)

33. Deny you have problems.

34. Refuse to listen to the people you love who are trying to tell you to get help.

35. Withhold love, touch and companionship to those you love as a way to express anger.

is a nationally recognized expert in the field of the brain and behavior and the country's foremost pioneer in applying brain-imaging science to clinical practice, especially in the area of ADD. He is Director of the Amen Clinics in Fairfield and Newport Beach, CA and Tacoma, WA and author of the bestseller
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.