Lately, I’ve been more and more interested in neuroscience and it feels great to learn neuroscience mostly because of the dopamine it generates.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is generated when you reach the goals you set yourself or when you understand you’re on the path to getting what you want.
For example, your brain will generate dopamine both when you’re eating ice cream and also when you’re going to buy ice cream. The thought of getting what you want is generating dopamine.
Dopamine is really helpful.
If you set yourself to do something and you break it down into small steps that you can easily achieve, soon enough you’ll create yourself a loop where you teach your brain to generate dopamine constantly because you’re achieving things constantly.
Yes, you’ll probably have to increase the difficulty of what you’re doing but if you don’t get crazy about it and you’re careful with your progress, then your brain will generate dopamine on a regular basis.
When you’re getting dosed with dopamine, you feel energetic and in the mood of doing things. You feel motivated and you feel like the impossible suddenly becomes possible. On the other hand, when dopamine is missing, you feel like you don’t want to do anything. You don’t have the energy to do anything and you feel like the whole world is against you.
The more dopamine you get, the more dopamine you’ll generate. And the more dopamine you’ll generate, the more dopamine you’ll want.
When it comes to lacking dopamine, the more you lack it, the harder it will be for you to generate it. When you lack dopamine, you go into a downward spiral of negative thinking and the more the negative thinking happens, the less dopamine will be generated.
Therefore, you want to chase things in life and you want to achieve them. But life is not always about chasing things. There are moments where you have to control the feeling of chasing and deny the reward.
The negative side of dopamine in the communication process
Chasing things when it comes to the communication process is bad for everyone involved.
When I’m thinking about the communication process, I’m thinking about a basic process where only two people are involved: the emitter and the receiver. Both people will have both roles at different times.
The emitter will share information with the receiver and the receiver will listen to the information provided by the emitter. But nowadays it feels like that’s an idealistic point of view.
Think about your experiences inside the communication process. How many times you’ve felt like you want to speak over the other person? I’m sure it happens regularly.
That’s where the negative side of dopamine appears in the communication process.
As I’ve said, dopamine is generated when we’re getting the things we chase. In the communication process, we want to share our ideas so badly, that we won’t wait until the other person shares theirs. Oftentimes we feel like we don’t even want to listen.
We’ve educated ourselves to speak because it feels good to speak. And that good feeling behind sharing our ideas is nothing more than dopamine.
If you’re into neuroscience and you know a bit about it, you may say that it’s oxytocin too. But oxytocin is generated when you’re spending quality time with people you trust. And that feeling of trust is really hard to develop when you don’t respect others’ opinions and you don’t even let them share their thoughts.
If you think about your childhood, you’re always encouraged to speak and share your ideas. When you’re doing it, you’re rewarded. Your parents encourage you to speak when you are really young. Then you go to school and your teachers encourage you to speak.
While sharing your ideas and speaking your mind is healthy and important, nobody teaches us how to listen. And because we’re taught how to speak more and more and we’re getting attention from others when we’re doing it, we learned how to love it.
Therefore, we love speaking and the more we do it, the more dopamine we generate. But we don’t really love listening and there’s no dopamine generated when we listen.
If you want to know how it feels to have dopamine generated when you’re listening, think about a song you really like and how good it feels when you’re listening to it. Especially when you’re alone.
Now imagine how would it be if you would feel the same when you would listen to others and their ideas and thoughts. I think we would live in a world built around compassion.
What happens when we’re trying to have control?
Sadly, dopamine is strongly related to the feeling of control.
If you think about your goals, having control over them means achieving them. Therefore, in order to get the needed dose of dopamine, you have to have control over the things you’re chasing.
Giving up control is probably one of the hardest things you could do. In a world where you’re taught to have control over everything, it’s really hard to let go.
But it’s the only way.
As long as you want to have control, you’ll become addicted to the feeling behind dopamine. Instead, let things randomly go.
Do you usually go shopping with a list?
Do you usually go prepared for your meetings?
Do you usually have a routine for your daily activities?
Let it all go and see what happens.
Don’t think about it. Just live your life as those things wouldn’t be required.
With love and optimism, David
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