In today’s society, it is easy to binge on things that feed our addiction to dopamine. Everywhere you look, you can easily choose things and activities that could instantly provide you enormous pleasure without doing much effort. Although this is normal for us humans, we just have to be conscious and regulate our behavior as it mostly ends up controlling us or stealing our lives away from things that are important and that really matters. If we are to live a life full of meanings, purpose, and positive happenings, we must start to take back the control again and set the goals we want to work for. In this way, we will find ways to witness our own creativity and achievements unfold.
But when you think back to the times when you were just a child, or in your teenage years, or even in your college days, things were more interesting and you feel so energetic most of the time. You feel like there is endless opportunity, you go out and play and be creative with your friends, doing your adventures in life through art, play and socialization. Today seems things have changed and it is not possible for many to make that happen again.
How dopamine takes over
Dopamine is released through our brain when we perform certain activities that further our chances of survival. Dopamine reward prior to the modern age has very few sources. Some of these are the rewards from successfully finding a mate, hunting a prey, so on, Today, dopamine triggers are way too unbelievably accessible to us humans living in industrial places. You don’t have to look further as dopamine triggers are overwhelmingly available almost 24/7. Porn, social media affirmation, fast foods, movies, music, etc. – with just a few clicks in your computer screen, you can now consume and enjoy the products that provide your dopamine kicks. However, overloading one’s brain with dopamine will result to desensitization. In the long run, no matter how excited one feels, excessive dopamine decreases motivation and energy, eventually making our brain not sensitive to the kicks anymore.
So obviously this is very counterproductive to biology and it also leads to addiction. Our brain now demands more and more of the stuff. This is because it is a neuro-transmitter that is controlling the brain’s reward system. So partly just because it is addictive, it might also results to different problems such as obesity, anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, OCD, and other kinds of health problem, especially if not given proper concern. If you are feeling lethargic or lack of motivation most of the time, often struggling to finish simple tasks, try observing your self and be your own therapist. Make sure that your life is productive even though you are also struggling to minimize the overload of dopamine in your daily life due to whatever excusable reason. Refrain from giving rewards to your self for doing nothing or for doing very easy things.
What to do to avoid harmful dopamine seeking habits
One of the easiest ways to bombard oneself for dopamine overdose is porn. This thing doesn’t require much effort. And unlike food or drugs, there is no concrete measurement on how much porn one can consume. So this leads to too much gratification to one’s brain, which is, of course, only harms it in the long run. It will somehow lead to higher and higher dopamine response. So this is very harmful to our brain and in general, it has really no benefits to our biological nature as we have evolved, for thousands of years, to be social creatures when it comes to our sexuality and reproductive aspects. So, the best way to prevent the harm porn brings to us is to stop consuming them.
Another distraction to minimize or avoid is social media. This is very harmful especially if the use of social media doesn’t really help contribute to the individual and to our collective progress in the society, intellectually and psychologically. Of course, there is surely a healthy way to use social media, especially when you are marketing or promoting something that you feel is important or useful to other people; given that we the current dominant system depends on that. But being just a user seeking validation makes you more vulnerable to the negative and worrisome effects on your well-being in the end. This also usually triggers and re-enforces your insecurities and other unexpressed and affirmed feelings inside, making you somewhat distracted, irrational, and defensive.
Validation provides us more hits of dopamine, making us more excited and inclined to the trick again. However, social media creates a tricky façade for most of us, filtering the dark and uncomfortable essences of our lives, leaving mostly our fantasies and illusions as perfect as we want them to be. So the best thing to do if you really still need to use social media is to use it smartly and efficiently. With thoughtful use of it, you can utilize the tool in achieving your goals and accomplishing your purpose socially – online business, the book you wrote, the films you made, the products you sell, they can all be organized and run maximizing the advantages of social media.
The next ones are video games and television. Almost like those distractions mentioned above, video games and TV occupy your mind and keep you hooked to someone else’s storytelling and perspectives. It keeps your attention to the fantasies created in the context therefore, stealing your time. This could also sometimes mean that you allow certain biases and ideas to dominate your judgment by swallowing them without critical outlook towards. Video games also give you the illusion of “hard work” by tricking you into thinking that you are doing an important task or solving a real problem. This illusion also keeps you in the loop of dopamine addiction, providing you the pleasure even if you don’t exert real and actual efforts. Given that these things really happen, it’s time to stop and think about it.
The last one is sugar. Sugar releases large amount of dopamine which makes it very addictive, even more addictive than cocaine. In today’s age of junk foods and refined sugar, our brain is evolving in a way most of us cannot fathom or imagine. When it comes to food, many of today’s corporate products contain high amount of sugar, not to mention toxic chemicals and preservatives, causing obesity, diabetes, and other health problems to many. This surely affects our evolution in a very significant manner. Sugar over-excites our brain, causing it to get desensitize and ask for more. And just because dopamine hit is very hard to resist, many of us succumb to the pattern that offers very easy reward to our brain. And, this mostly comes with highly regretful consequences. Therefore, before everything becomes late, it’s time to stop allowing these unhealthy habits and behaviors to continue.
Featured Image: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201802/the-dopamine-seeking-reward-loop