There are countless times that I started with the whole attitude of wanting to change my habits, and countless times that I ended up failing. The reason was not very clear to me, but one day I heard about a molecule that is capable of determining your ability to remain constant, disciplined and doing the things you have to do in order to achieve the goals you are looking for: dopamine .
Listening to Andrew Huberman’s Huberman Lab Podcast , specifically the chapter “Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction ” I began to understand the importance of dopamine in our life. From there, I began to investigate further and for that reason I decided to write this article.
In these times of massive information and instant dopamine everywhere, it is essential to learn about something that directly influences all human beings.
There is a molecule capable of determining your ability to remain constant, disciplined: dopamine / Image: Depositphotos.com
Dopamine is in EVERYTHING
This substance is not only responsible for pleasure, it is also responsible for motivation, drive and desire. It also controls your perception of time (that’s why when you’re happy time flies by super fast) and can determine how physically active you are.
Knowing how it works can allow you to control it or you can create effective systems that –based on dopamine levels– you can keep doing the same activities day after day without depending on motivation or simply feeling like it.
What effect does dopamine have on the brain?
Dopamine is a neuromodulator, which means that it directly influences the communication of many neurons at the same time. Being so influential, dopamine is able to determine your energy levels, your mindset, your willingness to get things done and to pursue goals.
If you’ve ever wondered why there are people with unlimited energy and others who seem tired all the time, the answer is very simple: by the amount of dopamine circulating in their body.
Use dopamine to your advantage
Before continuing, a little test.
Have you experienced any of these five situations?
- Wait until Monday to start everything.
- Abandon a process within a few days or weeks of starting.
- Sabotage my progress for the day by failing at just one thing.
- Feeling guilty for having failed one day and consequently failing all week.
- Telling that I’m doing something when it’s really just an idea.
If at least three of these five things have happened to you, I suggest learning how to use dopamine to your advantage.
That is why it is so difficult to give up sweet bread, cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, checking cell phone notifications every five minutes, or any activity that releases high amounts of dopamine in the least amount of time possible.
It is normal to fail, in fact, it is the most common. But if you really want to change a behavior, you should gradually stop repeating the activities that give you pleasure ¬ –but do not contribute anything to your future– and lean towards the activities that build you.
In this way, you will be able to achieve consistency and consequently have discipline. No matter how you feel, you are going to deliver. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or if you feel sad, you will keep doing what you have to do to get what you want to achieve.
Master dopamine in three steps
1. Identify your base
First of all, you must carry out an analysis of the activities and habits you have. Once you have it, try to classify whether your activities release a large amount of dopamine. In this way, you can balance the base of your dopamine by removing certain elements and as a consequence remain constant in whatever activity you do.
Something that happened to me is that I realized that when running I was always looking for the weather, the music and the perfect outfit. This affected me, since if I ran without any of these elements, the activity became tedious and boring – because it did not release the same amount of dopamine that I was expecting.
The solution to this was to run no matter the weather, no cell phone, no matter how I was dressed, and alternating my tennis shoes. The first week I felt discomfort, but after a few days I got used to doing the activity like this. I went from constantly skipping workouts, to not failing at any.
2. Control what you consume
If you are clear about what you want, try to be a careful person when investing your time. Everything you see and hear influences you. Your brain does not know what you are seeing or hearing, it only knows that dopamine is being released in large quantities. It automatically makes you choose it –even if it doesn’t contribute anything– which can take away valuable productive time.
Try to consume content that has to do with what you do in real life, learn more about what you want to achieve or what you are really doing. It should be mentioned that not all content that seeks to entertain you is bad, what is bad is spending all your time exclusively looking at that type of content.
My life changed substantially when I stopped looking for entertainment, and started looking for inspiration. Your real life is not behind a screen, your real life is in what you do with your time.
3. Limit rewards
Taking pills for concentration every time you are studying, having an energy drink before exercising, everything that generates a dopamine peak in the short term, is affecting you in the long term.
This sudden increase in dopamine levels in the brain causes the base – which should ideally remain stable and in balance – to drop considerably, which gradually causes you to feel less pleasure or satisfaction when performing a certain activity.
That is why it is so important to limit the rewards, in this way, you do not depend on extra factors to the substantial activity you are doing. This way you can stay constant for longer, since you do not depend on external factors that release dopamine to carry out your activities.
How did applying these steps help me?
At the beginning of January I started writing in Fitnanciero , and I realized that each I like, each retweet and each time a new account followed me, dopamine was released in me. This worked against me, because when a tweet did not have as many reactions, I was discouraged and felt that it was not worth continuing.
Once I learned and applied the steps above, I started tweeting constantly no matter what results I had. I also concentrated on writing – the substantial activity of the account.
I started using a notebook with my cell phone notes in case something occurred to me and I didn’t have the computer nearby. I also established schedules to write (inspired or not) which resulted not only in the growth of the account, but also a system based on perseverance and discipline that allowed me to apply it in other aspects of my life.
If you are struggling to be consistent and discipline yourself, I am sure this information will help you. If so, share it with whoever you think can work for you, you will help us both a lot.