Quick Hits of Dopamine KILL Motivation
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Today, we need to have a serious conversation. I'm also going to open up about some things that I've been going through over the past couple of weeks when it comes to social media and getting things done.
Somehow social media has been a greater influence and force on our lives today than TV was for previous generations.
Each generation had their place where they could go and induce great feelings. Those things could be an escape from life for multiple hours.
Back in the day, they had newspapers, books, radio. Today we have social media and it's it seems to be even more powerful at distracting us from our day to day lives and influencing our behavior.
Indulgence can be like a cycle.
At one point in your life, you can be super focused on things outside of social media, movies, and video games. And other times, it can seem life those things just have a hold on you. You just want to escape and let time pass by. You just want to feel good.
I've found myself in a period of time where I'm just sucked in. The main dopamine source for me right now is how much interaction I've been getting on social media.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a motivating chemical. If you're hungry, dopamine is going to power your motivation. You will feel super motivated to figure out what you want to eat, go get the food and eat the food.
As soon as you get to the point where you're about to take your first bite and as soon as you take your first bite, a flood of dopamine will run throughout your body.
Your brain will say "okay, you've done it, you've succeeded. You've taken the first bite. Good job." Interestingly, you'll realize, after you're done eating your first bite, every other bite after that is not as enjoyable as the first.
Additionally, by the time you're done eating, you won't even feeling as great as when you were eating that first bite, because dopamine is just getting you to the point where you're accomplishing the goal that you were set out to accomplish.
This cycle can easily be related to social media.
Dopamine and Social Media
Think about when you log into Instagram. You open up the app and immediately you go to the notification page. You may see ten likes, three comments and five follows.
By seeing interaction, you get a flood of dopamine. Your brain says "yes, I accomplished something, I accomplished interaction".
Dopamine will tell you, "open the app, open the app, open the app. See that you've accomplished something, open the app".
As soon as you open the app and see that you've accomplished interaction, that's when you get the dopamine. But afterwards, the feeling dwindles down.
Over time, you become desensitized and require more interaction to receive the same amount of dopamine.
In the meantime, Instagram has made it so that you can continue swiping through plenty of reels and photos in order to laugh and be entertained.
Getting and staying in this cycle is very, very easy because the people who work for Instagram and all the other major social media platforms, are experts at understanding how chemicals in our brain work. They understand what we as humans like to see and what we keep coming back for.
They actually have the psychology down, they have the sociology down. They understand how our brains work. That's what they're using to keep us scrolling, and keep us coming back.
Dangers of Dopamine
The easiest hits of dopamine are the things that you don't really have to work hard for.
You don't have to work hard to open an app and see that somebody has interacted with your post. You don't have to work that hard to scroll and see something that makes you laugh.
But what you do have to work hard for, if you're in a cycle of easy dopamine hits, is sitting down for 30 minutes to read a book.
As a kid I used to sit down and be fully immersed in books. I used to read books about dogs, magic tricks, and anything else that I was interested in.
You may have a few interests yourself, but think about how much effort it might take you to sit down and just read for 30 minutes. It can be something a topic you're completely interested in.
It's not easy to sit down for 30 minutes or an hour and fully engage yourself in that thing in that book, but it would be easy to sit down and immerse yourself in a movie or any other form of digital media that takes little effort to engage in.
That's the issue. Throughout life, a lot of us seek the the easy hits of dopamine. Those are what we go after first.
When things become easy, we don't really want to revert back to what is more difficult. If it's easy to sit down and watch something, we don't really want to sit down and read a book, even though in the back of our minds we know it would benefit us so much more.
It's easier to go down the street real quick and grab something from McDonald's than it is to cook a fresh meal for yourself, which would probably be healthier and also save you money.
Regaining Real Motivation
What I'm doing to regain real motivation is cutting back on every social media interaction and being careful to not open apps without having a real reason to open the app.
Catch yourself when you're in these scrolling patterns and tell yourself to stop.
I like to say to myself, "if I can't do anything right now, the least I can do is close this app. If I can't do anything right now, the least I can do is get up".
Say to yourself, "If I can't do this really quick right now, then what can I do? This is going to take like a split second. This is going to take maybe 30 seconds. Why can't I do this?" Ask yourself these questions.
A small dopamine detox activity that I've been doing is just sitting down and doing nothing. No electronics, no writing, no reading, no music.
I just sit down and just think while I stare at the wall without doing anything that will distract me or give me satisfying hits of dopamine.
It's hard for a lot of people, but if you try it, set a timer for an hour and put your phone on Do not disturb. Put it across the room and just sit down.
Simply let yourself be bored. Let yourself think about all those things that you've been pushing away and putting into the back of your brain by scrolling through social media, listening to music, watching movies or playing video games.
By doing this, you're allowing your dopamine receptors to relax for a little bit. You're not, overloading them constantly by rewarding your your dopamine system with little insignificant "accomplishments".
But the extreme version of this is a full dopamine detox. I'll make a video about that for you guys very soon so that you can understand how I would do a complete dopamine detox. I've done one in the past, and it actually really does help.
Until then, be aware of the small hits of dopamine you seek out everyday and notice how your mind reacts to them.
Challenge yourself to be bored for an hour a day, especially if you'd otherwise be wasting time on social media anyways.