It’s amazing how easy it is to binge-watch a tv show or play video games for hours on end. Yet, when we force ourselves to work on important things like studying a topic, learning a trade skill, or developing a business, even spending a fragment of your time doing these tasks as opposed to the aforementioned ones can feel like a mountain to climb.
Even though we cognitively understand how important they are.
The somewhat obvious or clear answer is that watching tv or playing video games is a passive hobby and thus, it is easier. Working on an important project requires effort, thus making it more difficult, and ultimately, less desirable. But this is something you can change -and that change comes in the form of dopamine levels.
Dopamine is often referred to as the pleasure neurotransmitter, but that’s not exactly accurate. What dopamine more accurately does is motivate and drive you to do certain activities. If a certain activity produces a lot of dopamine in your brain, you are much more likely to want to continue doing that activity - regardless of what it is. Even if the end result of that activity is bad for you (i.e. drugs, unprotected sex, junk good), your brain still releases high levels of dopamine which drives you to want it - despite the risk or result.
Even more disconcerting is that you can build up an “immunity” toward dopamine. This means that something that used to give you pleasure either no longer does or requires more of it (as is often the case with drugs and alcohol). And these are FUN things. Imagine how hard it would be to spike and maintain dopamine levels for seemingly medial tasks like studying or working on a project?
People that get immediate gratification from daily behaviors like technology, alcohol, pornography, social media, etc. will find that it’s much less pleasurable to do things they NEED to accomplish because these things provide much less dopamine. As such, they are less likely to do them.
If you find this to be true in YOUR daily life, then you may want to consider a “dopamine detox.” What this looks like is removing anything and everything from your life for an entire day that provides high levels of dopamine. This includes: your phone, tv, music, pornography, drugs, alcohol, or any extreme sports. In other words, allow yourself to be as bored as humanly possible. The only things you are allowed to participate in are meditating, going on a walk, or journaling. You should even try avoiding food altogether. Yes, for a full day.
Ideally, you should try doing a dopamine detox 1-2x a month. This will help reset your dopamine levels and inspire you to do more medial tasks that you didn’t want to do before. By forcing yourself to do a dopamine detox, biweekly or even monthly, you’ll feel like a new person - inspired to do things you didn’t want to before and genuinely happy to work on stuff you had no passion or drive for in the past.
Think of it as a cleanse and vacation for your brain and trust me... your brain will thank you.
From Mclain Warren