Over the past weeks, I’ve taken a long look at habits and how these are formed.
I’ve come to understand that we’re the sum of our habits, the things that we do without thinking. – but if you look a little deeper under the so-called hood, there’s always a physiological part to the story. Habits also have this part to them. Given, there’s the aspect of well-trodden neurological pathways, but what were you pursuing while you were creating those pathways?
– The answer is DOPAMINE.
Essentially, Dopamine is the hormone that the brain releases when it experiences pleasure. Nature has equipped us to release dopamine during exercise as well. In ancient times, you had to move before you could get the prize, kill the Mammoth, so it made sense for the brain to reward movement too. The acquisition of Dopamine, derived from pleasure, can get us into trouble because the source of the Dopamine can be from a hollow, non-serving pursuit. Social media lights up our pleasure sensors, as do porn, gambling, alcohol, drugs, and other pursuits which turn us away from other more worthwhile pursuits, from which we could have claimed the same dopamine/pleasure responses. The habitual pursuit of dopamine can lead to addiction. We begin to wire our brains to look for dopamine. It’s up to us to look at our habits and gauge which of these are moving us towards our dreams and goals, as opposed to leading us away from them.
When an addict gives in to the quickly accessible dopamine rush from, let’s say porn or alcohol, there will always be a counter-balancing feeling of pain. It’s how nature wires us. To counterbalance the feeling of pain, the addict will be prone to seek out pleasure again, and so the cycle continues, and this is why we live in a world, where depression is becoming a groundswell which may become an epidemic.
As a take-away, know that it would take you about 3 weeks of total abstinence from a said addictive behaviour. The first 10 days would be tough. It will get worse before it gets better. Then, in the next week or so, you’d begin to feel that you can actually kick the habit. During the last few days of the 3 weeks, your brain would begin to experience pleasure from other pursuits. A cup of coffee could give you the same dopamine response as previously, a cigarette would have. When you begin to take control of where you get your pleasure from and make these positive habits a part of your life, you have kicked the old and have once again become master of your own destiny.
Good luck. It’s hard. We’ve all done stupid stuff, but the lantern you need to get you out of pain and into good pleasure is available to you. You just need to understand that there’s a baseline physical component to all your addictions, and the light you need lies with abstinence.
#dopamine #addictions #painpleasure #habits