Dopamine(Spike V/S Detox)

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What the duck is Dopamine? Is it a new Duck in town?

Dopamine is a neuromodulatory molecule that plays several important roles in cells. And those important roles are passing on messages from one neuron to another.

In short, dopamine is a complex chemical that plays the role of transmitting messages from one neuron to another.

Pretty harmless, isn’t it?

However, if it is triggered it can cause way lot of differences in your mind. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?

In the past few weeks, I have been doing a lot of research on how to stay motivated throughout the day, week, month, year, decade, and through life.

Past few days I have been trying all kinds of tricks and trades in the book to get me motivated at work.

Although I have a few interviews lined up, a few trips coming up I just don’t find any motivation to get back to work.

My research pointed me back to our neurochemistry.

It all comes down to dopamine.

Food definitely gives us the potential energy required. However, even science claims potential energy does not really matter if it is not converted to kinetic energy to set us in action.

How does this transfer happen? You just said it my friend, DOPAMINE.

Dopamine is the one element in our body that has the capacity to convert potential energy to Kinetic energy.

When you achieve something you feel that sudden gush of energy in your brain. That my friend is the dopamine rush.

Dopamine is released when you anticipate getting something and when you get it.

Let’s say you have a goal to start making 2 Lakhs a month with your business.

Dopamine is released not just when you achieve 2 lakhs but in the process of getting there.

The energy that fires up your system to achieve that 2 Lakh rupees are dopamine. The anticipation of achieving the goal itself releases dopamine.

However, there are other sources that we have found that trigger dopamine.

There are “easy and cheap variants” that give you an instant Dopamine rush.

The only drawback is that it rises and then crashes both instantly. A momentary pleasure is all you get not to mention the side effects of cheap variants.

What are the sources of Cheap dopamine?

So let’s talk about all the sources of cheap dopamine.

If you want to achieve goals and get a career, business, and life success, it is absolutely important to avoid all the following sources of cheap dopamine as much as possible.

1. Smoking & substance abuse

An estimated 1 billion people on planet earth, smoke cigarettes. About 270 million people (or about 5.5% of the global population aged 15-64) indulge in substance abuse.

When you smoke a cigarette or indulge in substance abuse there is a rush of dopamine released into your bloodstream which makes you feel good in the short term.

There are so many chemicals in these things and their health downsides are obvious and well-proven, but the main reason why people smoke is for the dopamine release.

Right now I am writing this blog post, any guesses for what is my motivation behind it? None other than dopamine.

Despite the fact that smoking is injurious to health, the dopamine rush one gets from smoking each cigarette also goes down soon, leaving behind side effects of smoking Cancer, stroke, heart disease, throat congestion, etc.

It’s this dopamine rush that you crave more making you smoke repeatedly. It makes you feel down and sad and you crave a smoke.

Vaping may be less harmful than smoking for the lungs, but is it really an ok reason to vape? Because it does the same damage to your system.

You can get the same level of dopamine rush by smoking a cigarette and not getting any work done. The problem with cigarettes is, apart from it being cheap it’s also easily accessible.

The satisfaction I feel after seeing my runners achieve their personal best, podiums, and the fact that all of us have tons of experiences to share and lots of inspiration to draw from gives me a Dopamine rush.

The amazing fact remains that billions of people are doing this every day.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol is one such cheap trigger for dopamine which comes with a momentary rise of dopamine and leaves behind a residue of health hazards.

Alcohol in moderation to avoid social inhibition is ok. However regular indulgence leads to a huge havoc in your system.

Smoking and drinking definitely give you a momentary dopamine rush, however, it’s this rush that you crave, hence you end up indulging more often.

Saturday nights you tend to have so much alcohol that you end up spiking your dopamine levels over and above their limits. So in the bargain, you end up feeling worse and having a bad hangover. Thus craving for cheap dopamine. OUCH! is it really worth the time and indulgence?

Its this dopamine rush that makes you crave these cheap indulgences. After having indulged in a certain level of dopamine in your system you end up being addicted to it and you cannot function without it thus leading to a downfall in your professional and personal life.

3. Sugar and Junk Food

Do you need to smoke or drink for a dopamine rush? Think again Sugar is one of the biggest triggers for dopamine.

Sugar in any form carbs, sweets, candies, sweet sodas chocolates all equally bad for health, it is consumed regularly.

Sugar is a HUGE THREAT, NOT A TREAT.

Many people have eating disorders and they just can’t help getting one more cake, or ice cream.

5. Social Media and TV

When you indulge in scrolling mindlessly through social media whenever you get a notification, your brain releases DOPAMINE

It is also very addictive because there is always something new on Facebook, Instagram, and youtube, you feel elated because of the momentary dopamine rush have you realized you have lost your precious work hour just for your momentary indulgence?

Instead of getting dopamine from getting work done, which is slow (but more stable), we reach out to our phone when we are feeling low, and seeing something new instantly releases some dopamine.

Many people I know are on social media forever. They watch nothing just keep Switching between platforms this gives you a feeling of insecurity in social media terms its called FOMO Fear of Missing out and yet gives you a dopamine rush.

Do you open social media as soon as you get to work? You are going down a dangerous path.

When it comes to dopamine dependency, social media is as bad as smoking.

Someday, maybe, the governments will declare social media as a dangerous and illegal activity.

They are ok as long as they are in moderation. Use social media to connect with other people instead of getting cheap dopamine.

Switching channels on TV mindlessly is also not very different from scrolling social media.

7. Shopping

Smoking, drinking, and social media are cheap mediums for getting a dopamine rush. There is yet another indulgence which can actually make you go Bankrupt. have you watched the movie” Confessions of a Shopaholic”

Many people get a rush of dopamine from shopping and buying stuff. I am guilty of this a lot. And I am desperately trying to reduce it.

Even the thought of going to the shopping mall and buying new things releases dopamine into your system.

And buying stuff and bringing it home releases even more dopamine.

The Craze of owning a brand new car, or latest mobile, brand new perfume, dress, or a new gadget the new commodity you buy today will be old tomorrow, every month new brand of the car come up, fashion keeps changing, and newer gadgets hit the market. Is there ever an end to these indulgences? So the very next day you feel low because the instant dopamine rush you have got has worn out. Then you go for more.

Online shopping is also as bad. Instead of going to the mall, we scroll through Amazon’s feed. And add things to the cart. And get it delivered to our homes.

From expecting the arrival, to receiving it, to opening the package to using it, all release dopamine.

A minimalist lifestyle frees you from the need to buy new things, thus saving you a lot of money and giving you the challenge to work things out with your existing things.

Whenever you buy something that you don’t need, the brand wins and you lose.

Enjoyment?

Many people will react to this post because it looks like I am asking you to “not have enjoyment”.

Dopamine is the pathway to pleasure, and it feels good when you do all the above stuff I have mentioned.

None of the above things that I have mentioned above was available to humans 10,000 years back.

Our ancestral fathers went out to hunt instead of sitting on the couch, smoking, drinking, watching TV, ordering stuff on Amazon, watching images, touching themselves, and mindlessly scrolling through social media.

They went hunting, brought back food, and raised families and tribes. They built pyramids, conquered new territories, invented new tools, and made civilization into what it is today because there was no other way to access that dopamine release inside our system.

Cheap dopamine coming from all the things that I have mentioned above is going to be the doom of mankind.

Because if we can release dopamine with a smoke than working hard for it, where is the motivation to work hard and achieve things?

What if all the people in the world just get cheap dopamine and no one does any real significant progress making work?

We might implode as a species if all we do is release cheap dopamine all the time and become highly dependent on it.

Freedom

All of us want to have freedom.

Did we fight for independence as a country so that we can scroll mindlessly on social media?

Today, we are slaves to cheap dopamine, and many of us mindlessly chase things that cannot sustain pleasure and we keep wanting more and more of it until we self-destruct.

If you can find better ways of dopamine release through healthy activities such as sports, dating, gymming, swimming, getting work done, growing your career, contributing to the world, reading, and other activities that make life better… you will be better off than most people in this world.

What Do You Really Want?

It might look like it is very difficult to give up all the things I have mentioned above.

But what if I told you that by giving up all the above vices, you can…

  • Have a great career
  • Build a great business
  • Contribute a lot to the world
  • Write a book
  • Build a fit and energetic body
  • Have enough bank balance to last for generations
  • Have a great partner (male or female)
  • Have great and healthy kids
  • Never have many cravings for all the above activities and feel healthy all the time
  • Have the time and space to read great books for 2-3 hours a day
  • Be at the peak of your life and be a role model to others…

What would you choose?

The very thought of having all the above excited you and releases dopamine, doesn’t it?

Then work for it, work towards it, achieve it, and achieve even more.

I am not saying that you have to give up everything and be miserable all the time.

All I am saying is that you have to REPLACE the bad stuff that gives you cheap dopamine with the stuff that gives you healthy dopamine.

Something that gives long-term satisfaction and inspires other people.

There is NO WAY you can have both.

Yes, some successful people also have bad habits, but how do you define that “success”?

Some people might have achieved a lot in their business, but they will have a lot of health problems. What’s the point?

Some will be very fit, but they don’t have their finances in order. What’s the point?

Some will have no smoking habit but they are scrolling on social media all the time and not being productive. What’s the point?

There is no way people are going to get inspired by people that are chasing cheap dopamine.

If you are seeing a successful social media influencer drive around a Lamborghini, you might think that is an inspiration because you also want it someday (and the dopamine that is released by having that in your life).

However, think about Warren Buffet who lives a simple life but is a multi-billionaire several times over.

The social media influencer won’t stand a chance against a person like Warren Buffet.

The influencer is spending money to show off and he/she has dopamine release by doing this.

I have always wondered why people who have made a lot don’t buy all the stuff that is fancy and exciting. But now I have the answer. Because for them their dopamine doesn’t come from chasing those things. That is the very reason they have made a lot. Else they wouldn’t have got there.

Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)

You might have some moderate level of success even if you have some vices, but you can never achieve filthy success and become GOAT unless you give up ALL THE VICES.

Because every vice gives you access to cheap dopamine. And that cheap stuff always gets in the way of more quality ways to get the same level of dopamine. No exceptions.

Your “quality dopamine” will be much more sustainable in the long term.

You will have a better form of pleasure by walking around in a healthy body. And the more you are there, the more easily you can say NO to all the vices. It is harder to fall from heights when you clearly say NO and maintain that NO with DETERMINATION.

That’s the business case for giving up all the above-mentioned vices that release cheap dopamine.

Sacrifice

You cannot have a cake and eat it too.

You have to sacrifice something to get something.

  • You can have a great fit body, or you can smoke, drink and eat junk food all day. What is your choice?
  • You can have access to disgusting videos of other people touching each other, or you can have a great relationship, what would you choose?
  • You can get productive work done and achieve success in your career, or you can scroll mindlessly through social media all day, what would you choose?
  • You can have crores of rupees in assets that give you peace of mind and never have to worry about money, or you can have all the gadgets and fancy clothes right NOW. What would you choose?

The options are right in front of you.

NEVER fool yourself into thinking that you can have both. You can’t. And deep down you don’t want to.

You can sacrifice your goals for your vices.

Or you can sacrifice your vices for your goals.

It is your choice.

And choices make who we are.

We are what we choose.

Who are you?

What is your choice?

Reply to this email and let me know.

Cheers,
Deepak Kanakaraju

P.S. Not medical advice. I am not a medical professional and I apologize if there are any factual errors in this article. Most of the things I have written here has been inspired by Andrew Huberman’s Podcasts (on YouTube) and Harvard’s articles on dopamine.

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