Watching Netflix is more comfortable than folding laundry. Polishing off a pack of curly fries is more satisfying than finishing a bowl of spinach. But why is that? Why can’t we motivate ourselves to eat the salad when we want to be healthy? Why do we longingly look at the donut when it doesn’t advance us towards our goals? It all lies in the brain. Yes, the very thing you used to set your goals also prevents you from achieving them. Specifically, it’s a chemical produced in your head that makes you desire things. You rely on it to find food, procreate, and win in a competition. The neurotransmitter is called dopamine. You depend on it to survive and progress. However, in our fast-paced, dopamine-rich, instant gratification world, it has a few drawbacks. Our paleolithic brains crave frequent hits of dopamine because it motivated us to complete basic survival tasks in ancient times. But now, social media companies, product marketers, and fast food chains spend thousands, if not millions of dollars researching and understanding what makes us crave their product or service. They lace their goods with all sorts of bells and whistles to prevent you from looking away or not buying. Thus, the action-packed, highly graphic, and cleverly scripted shows that took years of filming, editing, and perfecting is more appealing than any real-life moment or scene.
So, you want to cure this dopamine addiction. You want to take control over what your brain prioritizes and transform the hours you wasted into productive hours that help you grow. The fastest and most effective way to reset your dopamine receptors is by depriving yourself of all activities that stimulate high dopamine. It’s called a dopamine detox. Set aside a day where you do not engage with the internet, your phone, social media, computers, music, junk food, gambling, etc. I know it seems extreme. If you can’t do this, block out one hour every day where you remove all high dopamine activities for a week. You will find yourself bored out of your mind during this period. After some time, though, you will resort to doing hard things, like meditating, journaling, and reflecting. You will discover they are quite amusing and fun. Doing this challenge is the only way to get drastic results. When you finish the challenge (whichever one you decide to do), either remove most of the addictive activities or reserve doses of high-dopamine for the end of the day as a reward.
Dopamine isn’t all that evil when you use it the right way. It is needed to perform basic tasks. However, the dopamine detox is about resetting your tolerance level to the neurotransmitter. Once your tolerance lowers, working out, eating healthy, and reading books seem like effortless and fulfilling things to do.
Watch this video if you’re interested in learning more.