Brain Wash Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Brain Wash will show you how to have a more peaceful, contented life by revealing what’s wrong with all of the bad habits that society accepts as normal, how they affect our brains, and the 10-day program you can follow to fix it.

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You’ve got it pretty good. You can order food to arrive in minutes and packages that come the next day. You have an endless supply of videos and movies that you can stream instantly. 

But why are you still so miserable?

We might think life is great right now but the reality is, inside we’re all suffering. How did we get here and what is the cure?

The unfortunate truth is that cultural norms are hijacking our brains and stealing away our happiness, health, and connection. Without knowing it, you’ve created habits around these social patterns which lead you to make choices that keep you from a good life.

But a prescription is available to solve these problems and you’ll learn all about it in David and Austin Perlmutter’s Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships and Lasting Happiness.

Here are the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from this book:

  1. The world we live in is good at making you happy right now but destroys your future happiness.
  2. If you want to be smarter than everybody else, exercise.
  3. For long-term happiness, follow the ten steps of the Brain Wash program.

Ready to give your brain a good scrubbing to make it healthy and clean? Let’s get right into it!

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Lesson 1: Your future happiness is on the line when you follow social norms like unhealthy eating and checking your smartphone too much.

We get pleasure out of each of the little daily actions that seem so normal to all of us. From buying and snacking, to scrolling and clicking, each of these is designed to give us a little satisfaction. 

With all of these luxuries, you might think we’d all be happy, but you’d be wrong. Statistics prove that what we might think of as nice things to have are actually contributing to greater rates of depression, suicide, and insomnia. 

To find out why this is happening, we have to look back into our species’ history. Our ancient ancestors had to protect themselves against predators and get any food they could get. That meant that their brains rewarded the intake of energy-rich foods and actions that granted social acceptance. 

Our problem, then, is that our minds still have these built-in survival mechanisms. In this age of technological advancement, that means we’re rewarded for things that aren’t good for us anymore. 

Businesses know this and exploit it to make more money. It’s been so profitable that our world is filled with gadgets and food that take advantage of our primal instincts. And while these impulses were great at keeping our ancestors alive in the short-term, they’re awful for our long-term well-being.

Sweet and salty foods are easy to grab and eat, but lead to diseases like diabetes and obesity. And social media is like fast food for our brains. It may keep us clicking, but it destroys our ability to make deep connections with people.

Lesson 2: Exercise if you want to get smarter.

Now that you know how bad following social norms is, you’re probably wanting to know how to break free of their grip. One of the best places to start is with exercise.

We were built for movement. It shapes our bodies and makes them look better, which means we’re healthier and more likely to attract a potential partner. But what we’re also just now discovering is how wonderful exercise is for our minds.

When you don’t work out enough your mind becomes foggy and your mood deteriorates. If you put in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day, however, you provide a massive boost to your brainpower. 

For one, it stimulates the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that takes care of executive functions like planning and problem-solving. In other words, if you want to be smarter, all you need to do is hit the gym or go for a run!

Research comparing the performance of children who had exercised before a test with those who hadn’t confirms this. Those that got in a little physical exertion in prior to the exam had much higher scores than the others.

Working out doesn’t just make you smarter, it also boosts your mood. I just went running yesterday and was excited by how great I felt immediately afterward. Physical activity also improves your long-term outlook on life.

Lesson 3: The Brain Wash program’s ten steps will set you on the path to long-term happiness.

There isn’t an overnight fix to the problems that our modern world creates. But you can start small and with consistency, become mentally and physically happier and healthier again. 

The authors created a ten-day pattern to get you started. The steps they recommend for each day are:

  1. Begin a digital detox by eliminating non-essential technology. Delete apps that waste your time.
  2. Utilize the power of gratitude and empathy by reflecting on the good and journaling about what you’re thankful for. 
  3. Revitalize your relationship with nature. Go for a walk, try hiking, or work outside.
  4. Examine and improve your diet. Identify what you currently eat, plan ways to do better by removing processed foods and finding new recipes.
  5. Make a plan for better sleep. Begin by getting your devices out of the bedroom and committing to an earlier bedtime.
  6. Exercise more by starting small with something like a quick walk. Consider how you’ll form a habit of physical activity.
  7. Calm your mind with meditation. Try deep breathing exercises for just 12 minutes.
  8. Improve your social connections by calling a sibling or friend, inviting someone to lunch, or doing volunteer work.
  9. Evaluate how the previous eight days have gone. Identify what went well and what you didn’t like as much.

Make a plan to make these changes stick. Reflect on how much better these efforts made you feel and commit to yourself to them for a happier future!

Brain Wash Review

While I really enjoyed Brain Wash, none of the lessons I learned were new. It was nice to hear a lot of science behind why social media and fast food are bad for us and how to combat that, though. I think we all know generally what’s bringing us down and how to fix it, the problem is just putting in the work!

Who would I recommend the Brain Wash summary to?

The 26-year-old that doesn’t have great habits and wants to change their life, the 58-year-old grandmother that spends too much time on social media and is anxious, and anyone that’s fed up with the busyness of our modern world and wants to find peace.

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.