MetaDopamine and You (self.TheRedPill)

submitted by Endorsed Contributorthelandofdreams

It is always useful to imagine ourselves as we once were— to forget the thin veneer of civilization that belies our true nature and to try and stare for a moment at the barefaced gears churning just below the surface.

See yourself as a caveman. Instead of in an apartment complex, imagine you live in the forest with ten other people. Life is simple but not easy. You subsist, nearly hand to mouth. Something as simple as a drink of water can be hard work, and here you are, walking miles to the nearest river. Your throat is dry and you sweat from every pore. Your feet slide across sharp rocks. You are tired and empty. In a grove of the forest you stop. There is a sound that begins lighting up receptors in your brain. The telltale hum stirs your very blood. There it is, a beehive! A beehive means honey. Sugar. Dense, life-giving nutrition.

The problem is that getting to this honey is tough, and perhaps even dangerous. It is twenty feet in the air and hanging over more jagged rocks, for starters. The tree has sharp bark that you’ll need to shimmy up, and that is not even to mention what happens if you actually make it up there, at which point you’ll need to figure out a way to wrangle with a passel of pissed off stinging insects willing to die to protect their queen.

But you go after that honey anyway. Perhaps not right now, but back at your cave you scheme and devise, you discuss and invent.

But why? What drives you to do all that? Why not simply shrug your shoulders and walk away. Find some easier way to subsist. There are sour tasting berries that are much easier to gather, and they can be taken without the need for plots and ingenuity. Why not just say no to luxury and focus on the basics?

The reason why is dopamine.

Because when that sugary sweet syrup hits your lips, a wave of euphoria, interest, attention, and rewards hits your brain. In fact, even just imagining what the golden manna might taste like has already got your little dopamine soldiers marching. It creates an obsession inside you.

It is this chemical that makes you willing to take the risk, to overcome the hurdles, to go through the struggle and the effort for that sweet, sweet reward: a reward that helps you and your species survive and even thrive. Because by coming up with tools and procedures to overcome challenges like retrieving honey, you are actually starting humanity on the course that will lead it to laptops and expresso makers.

Fast forward a few hundreds of thousands of years. We have become cleverer chimps than your honey seeking ancestor might have ever imagined, but we are the same chimps beneath the eons of human experience. The only difference is what we know. Now, we grow fields of sugar cane, process it, package it, and ship in the neighborhood groceries all across the world. That sugar fix now requires very little effort on your part. It is a button you can press at almost any time.

Extrapolate this out to almost everything that causes a dopamine surge. Pornography represents instant access to any exciting kink you might be into, all at the click of a button. Various drugs release obscene amounts of dopamine in the blink of an eye. Some are society approved and others aren’t, but they are still not hard to access. You won’t climb any trees or fight any stinging insects for your little bag of cocaine, if that is your thing. There are six stores within a block from my house that sell alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, etc.

We are pleasure seeking animals, and there is no moral flaw in pleasure. Pleasure is great, but if you allow it to, your brain has a tendency to seek pleasure in the quickest and easiest thing possible. If the honey is sitting on the ground in a plastic bottle, you aren’t going to fight the insects in order to get it. Don’t be confused. In the metaphor, I’m trying to make here, the honey on the ground is food, porn, video games, alcohol, etc. Whereas the honey in the tree represents success, physical fitness, career, a relationship with a quality woman, etc. etc. These are the things that require a delaying of gratification, an overcoming of obstacles, and a constant discipline and grit that today’s pampered men are losing due to the ease at which all these things can be replaced in the brain with an instant dopamine boost.

After all, what we are really doing with a snickers bar, an IPA, a fap, is tricking our brains. Dopamine used to be a reward for accomplishment. Now, it is an instant gratification button that you can push at any time.

And we all know what can happen when you pump too much instant gratification into the human brain— the human body’s penchant for equilibrium kicks into overdrive, it seeks balance assiduously in all things.

So, let’s look at what might be an average day for a modern man who isn’t making an effort to regulate his dopamine. Wake up, Coffee. Let’s say three coffees. Dopamine surges as the caffeine reaches the brain. Maybe he adds sugar to each one for a double whammy of dopamine. Then maybe he logs on to Reddit. Each click presents his brain with something new and novel, interesting and instant. His dopamine surges even more. God help him if he decides to watch a bit of porn before work. The surge of this potent neurochemical has already totally fried his brain and his day hasn’t even really started yet. Is it any wonder he feels unfulfilled? Empty? Restless? The consequences of dopamine abuse might not be immediately apparent. It isn’t so much that dopamine itself is bad for you, but rather the way it creates certain wiring in your brain, certain loops of thinking that translate into larger behavioral patterns. Our understanding of these processes is limited right now, but let us imagine how this might all play out. The brain desires dopamine. So, we play a video game. The bright lights, colors, and engagement all create a false sense of reward. The brain releases dopamine, and life carries on. But what this does is create a loop where your brain stops seeking the long-term, hard won pleasures of accomplishment and success, and instead relies on quick fixes. It can’t really tell the difference after all, but your life suffers due to the habits you subconsciously call upon to summon up this indispensable chemical from your own body. Crazy right?

What does this mean for you?

Well, it simply means that as a person of modernity, you can directly influence how your brain operates by simply refraining from pushing the instant gratification button that comes standard in the human mind. You can realize that you aren’t ready for the glut of luxury that civilization has afforded you, and simply turn the volume down. Refrain from sugar, from porn, from video games, from caffeine, from alcohol and drugs, from…. Yes, it is getting quite scary at this point, isn’t it?

Having superpowers requires a lot of effort, and completely abstaining from these things is not required to get some of the benefits. While it may seem impossible to live without these things, you would be surprised at how easy it gets once your break the habit of stimulus, instant gratification, instant reward. Remember that we are still cavemen. Those creatures we see in books and movies were us. They had hands and not paws. We are still bound by the same rules that governed them, and evolution has definitely not caught up to the world that we have sculpted for our own comfort.

TL/DR: The ability to mash your dopamine button using easy, instant fixes, may be one of the greatest issues faced by a modern man. If you are searching for a way to increase motivation, attention and focus, and generally retraining your brain to seek pleasure and reward in more fulfilling activities, you need to stop flooding it with feel good chemicals ten or twenty times a day.

Thanks TRP. Book and Blog.

Note: If you like my writing, PM me and I'll send you a free PDF copy of the book.

[–][deleted] 100 points101 points  (36 children)

No masturbation, no pornography, and 1-3 hours a day with devices and screens turned off. These are my dopamine-moderating/sensitizing behaviors. Can you think of any others?

[–]refusewool 51 points52 points  (19 children)

No music on commutes. Podcasts, audiobooks or silence instead.

[–]invertedmaverick 26 points27 points  (3 children)

Depends on the type of podcast (Comedy vs Scientific/Academic) and I suppose it could also depend on the type of music (for example some Rachmaninov vs Limp Bizkit).

I found that the ease and gratification of putting on the Adam Carola show every morning on my way to work started invading my thinking time too much. I switched back to music and found it easier to let my thoughts drift and get my head in the game before going into the office.

Everything in moderation.

[–]flashbang123 11 points12 points  (1 child)

I was going to say the same thing. Sometimes it's nice to listen to music on the commute - having no thoughts can put you in a meditative/hypnotic state that can cleanse the mind.

[–]refusewool 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is why I suggested silence. When I listen to music I find it hard to clear my thoughts and not sing along in my head or follow the beat closely.

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[–][deleted] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Don't hate.

Joe Rogan's podcast was the best man at my wedding.

[–]Eastuss 0 points1 point  (6 children)

b...but other people aren't fun :(

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[–]mummersfarce_is_done 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I you are correct. Most people settled for mediocrity so their companionship doesn't mean much. This makes this all the more dangerous.

Other people aren't fun so we use podcasts etc. to fill the void. The argument we use to justify this uses the premise that "other people aren't fun". The premise is true. The argument is "so we can use podcasts instead." is a leap in logic. We know for a fact that humans need actual face to face social interaction. The answer is finding quality people instead, which is not an easy thing to find. I'm glad you did.

[–]Eastuss 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Well, I could enjoy some RP friends :o

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[–]1scissor_me_timbers00 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Music is actually good for the brain

[–]Luckyluke23 5 points6 points  (0 children)

come on man... i'm only human

[–]VisualElusion 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Never thought about music playing a role before, going to cut it and see any benefits. Thanks!

[–]BullshittingNonsense 10 points11 points  (2 children)

Nah music is thousands of years old. It's wonderful for humans. Try to cultivate the older style of listening to music where you listen to an entire album instead of a ton of singles.

[–]JoDoStaffShow 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Gotta be the right kind of music tho. Lotta shit out there.

[–]BullshittingNonsense 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Well it is subjective so to the person listening, it's the right kind

[–]1cloudmax40 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Bikram Yoga. Cold showers. Rock climbing. Meditation. Calmly studying.

[–]akaNeon1 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I see the masturbation thing a lot here. No porn is a no brainer, but I wouldn't blindly follow the nofap advice. For some people, like me, too little release suppresses my urges and totally kills them. After 2 weeks of not fapping i totally lose the desire to have sex. And I also feel kinda down, but that is probably placebo.

My point being that the nofap advice is NOT universally true.

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Yeah, but that's called a flatline and is temporary.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (7 children)

[–]honeywall 2 points3 points  (5 children)

Man, you re linking an article that advocates using porn, like wtf

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Then ignore the porn part. Quite porn if you think you really have a problem with it. Just don't demonize fapping like an idiot and don't mindlessly spew the meme that it fucks your dopamine up.

[–]honeywall 1 point2 points  (3 children)

What meme? There are like 22 studies saying that it fucks your dopamine up

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Whatever studies your saying exist, if they even do and even if you provide one are either glaringly misinterpreted to force this meme or just plain don't say anything of the kind and are bullshitted. The now (admittedly fixed) links I have posted cover this in detail and it is scientifically proven and supported that fapping neither decreases nor negatively affects your testosterone and does not fuck up your dopamine in any way, shape or form. These are nothing but pseudoscientific memes.

[–]honeywall 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I agree that one can masturbate his entire life and have no problem with his dopamine receptors. the problem is when this dopamine receptors are already fucked up by porn, than you masturbate and the thing just get worse. Please, delete the link that advocates porn, someone could see that in the future and fucking start using this cancerous shit again. Red Pill is ultimately against the use of porn. Take this shit off your comment.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I will be doing no such thing. Jamie Lewis's articles go into detail well about the pseudoscience and history behind nofap and are solid reference material. If other people are in a nofap thread or into nofap yet haven't heeded the numerous warning about porn, ignorned all the other info I've posted especially the top post, or think for themselves; then it really begs the question what they're doing there in first place. All the info I have found will do nothing except stay. Also it's not my job to be a censoring hugbox for anyone in case they get "triggered".

[–]honeywall 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Could you tell some benefits that you are getting doing this?

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

also interesting to get bloods done for prolactin which seems to inversely correlate with dopamine levels

dont have the source on hand sorry

[–][deleted] 36 points37 points  (12 children)

I think this is the very reason why some psychologists don't advocate people "visualising" their goals - because you get the dopamine hit, IE the payoff, without actually doing the work.

I'm saying they advocate not "visualising" of course, not just winging it and praying for the best. You still need a plan and action will forever be your best friend.

[–]grindinaway 21 points22 points  (3 children)

I can't remember where I read it, but the same idea with telling people your goals i.e. Weight loss or career, releasing dopamine just taking about doing something and not following through because you already got the high.

[–]Smigg_e 18 points19 points  (1 child)

This is why I stopped telling people about anything I'm trying to accomplish.

[–]DarkRedTwist 4 points5 points  (2 children)

I find visualising the end process and what it feels like to be there, to be the most consistent way to align myself with my goals. When I see that end goal in my mind it motivates me to take action to accomplish it.

To each their own.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Precisely - no one psychological impulse affects people in the exact same manner.

[–]1cloudmax40 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I think this is the very reason why some psychologists don't advocate people "visualising" their goals - because you get the dopamine hit, IE the payoff, without actually doing the work.

A mantra I often saw on Redpill in 2014 was that when you tell other people that you are going to do something, your brain gets a small dopamine release (as if you actually did the thing) so you are less likely to do the thing you were talking about.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah someone else commented about that too.

I wonder then if that's got something to do with the feeling you sometimes get of being super energised after you've been out drinking with your friends and making those grand future plans that are never going to pan out - it's the residual dopamine in your system.

[–]ag_blank 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I think this is the very reason why some psychologists don't advocate people "visualising" their goals - because you get the dopamine hit

That's the idea

You need that small dopamine release to hook yourself to that scenario, then let it wear off and get yourself to chase your dream via a plan so you get the most dopamine out of it

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Most people don't get into the second part of that sentence though.

My source on that is Richard Wiseman, a very popular psychologist/psychoanalyst with many published works.

Not that you were disputing it - but just so that you don't think I'm spouting it out of nowhere.

[–]temerarious 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think this is the very reason why some psychologists don't advocate people "visualising" their goals - because you get the dopamine hit, IE the payoff, without actually doing the work.

Create systems, not goals.

[–]SideWindStoic 20 points21 points  (1 child)

You should be pointed for this post. I've been reading a lot about dopamine and sugar lately and the OP sums it up perfectly.

If anyone wants to know more about this subject but rather not read endless amounts of books, I would recommend the movie 'That Sugar Movie'. It's a little subjective but still a really interesting documentary about sugar and what it does with your body and brain.

[–]not-hardly 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There's probably a bunch of books about it as well, but this is one of them.

Sugar Blues https://www.amazon.com/dp/0446343129

[–]Mckallidon 57 points58 points  (2 children)

To be fair I would argue that our easiest dopamine fix used to be other people. And being able to access deeper highs without other people is partly why society is falling apart.

[–]BullshittingNonsense 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Boom. This. Also I'm sure books give a dopamine hit, but they exercise the mind more than video games or tv and aren't as insane a dopamine hit as those.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

can you explain further please sound interesting

[–]DysfunctionalBrother 31 points32 points  (1 child)

The thing with porn is that after so much exposure the dopamine receptors weaken (that's probably not an accurate way of putting it, but i can't be asked to skim the internet to find out the right way of putting it at the moment.) which is why people become desensitized to the high and start watching more extreme stuff. This explains why porn addicts are not easily motivated to do things as the addict is densitized to dopamine which is also released (In very tiny amounts compared to the minds reaction to porn) when seeing an object of desire or achieving something. Porn use also shrinks the part of the brain that is used to make decisions. I'm sure i have repeated some of what OP has basically said, but needed to articulate. So yeah, don't fuck with porn.

[–]honeywall 8 points9 points  (0 children)

And the worst effect porn has on a male is erectile dysfunction. The thing is, the signals for an erection in the brain are fired by dopamine. Now the porn user cant get a fucking erection with any women on this world. It requires a lot of time abstaining from porn/masturbation to get sensitized again.

[–]1empatheticapathetic 13 points14 points  (2 children)

Once I did Nofap I realised I could form any habit I wanted. Someone else might have a similar realisation with quitting alcohol or some other addictive substance.

[–]Lil_bit_of_this 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Stupid question, but does NoFap mean no sex too?

[–]1empatheticapathetic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Traditionally you can still have sex because presumably you earned that.

[–]Cryptonious 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Awesome read, ive been reading the effects of dopamine and everything you said makes sense and is true.... thanks for reminding us!

[–]johnsonsson 12 points13 points  (1 child)

for those interested in the "full" story and a deeper understanding: read "Sapiens" by Yoval Harari. Amazing, truly amazing book about the history of humankind from 70.000 years ago until now.

[–]AtlasSkol 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Reddit is currently my most oppressive quick hitter. This post was really inspiring, in fact I'm going to take this moment of dopamine you gave me and delete the app right after I post this comment and take a week or two off, see how it makes me feel. Cheers!

[–]DavoAmazo 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'l be checking your account to make sure.

[–]Ninja_smiles 5 points6 points  (2 children)

If I'm following you correctly, then I have to remind myself that the feelings I experienced while reading this are also a quick fix. I resonate with this 100% but I can't let my brain and myself believe that the work is done. Thank you.

[–]Endorsed Contributorthelandofdreams[S] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

haha, that is true. Social media in general is pretty bad for dopamine regulation (in my unscientific opinion) Doesn't mean you should never use it, but it is easy to spend hours just clicking on interesting links. Really can fuck with your focus in a negative way.

[–]ARREST_HILLARY_NOW 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Social media is huge on dopamine, every click, every reply all designed to trigger you.

[–]ARREST_HILLARY_NOW 5 points6 points  (5 children)


Vyvanse has been a big help though, thoughts on that?

[–]LiteVisiion 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Vyvanse user here. I agree with you, but I feel like its just pushing the problem further without really dealing with it. Vyvanse is a psycho-stimulant, it's basically Dopamine / Serotonine in a pill. You get fed off this, so you don't need to constantly check your cellphone / fidget with things / get distracted by every little thing around you to get that dopamine high. You'll just get addicted to the pill, further down the road. Just keep that in mind.

[–]1cloudmax40 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Aggressively juice vegetables and fruits and drink the juice. Yes, you can eat the contents instead, but that takes more time. Do what works best for you but do it a lot. Look up superfoods. Get lots of sun. Do Bikram Yoga.

Look up Ketogenisis and do it. The brain prefers ketones. Go all in (put hours of dedication into doing it right) on a ketogenic diet. If you aren't lifting start lifting.

[–]Eat-Your-Tail 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Keto diet is a life changer. Youve heard "it was night and day for me", this time its actually true. Best perk is the energy. More energy from less sleep. It has also helped my focus and thinking. +100 for Keto.

[–]1theoctopuss 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Amphetamines aren't the best choice. The only reason someone should be taking it is if the pros outweigh the cons. Those with ADHD, narcolepsy, and extremely treatment resistant depression should take them due to the fact that the cons of living with those types of mental disabilities severely outweigh the cons of taking amphetamine.

Given enough time, Adderall/Vyvanse will turn on you. It's not pretty.

[–]1cloudmax40 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Adderall/Vyvanse will turn on you. It's not pretty.

I personally know someone who ended up schizophrenic from his Adderall usage pattern. He got caught in an endless cycle of Adderall, weed, and cigarettes. This person was certainly a genius, socially likable, good looking and fit (girls liked him) and everyone thought he would become a very accomplished person.

If the Adderall were removed from this person's situation, yes, he would still have some demons to fight, but I know he would have stayed within the realm of reasonable sanity.

I personally wish I had done more to help this person earlier on in their addiction when I had recognized they were changing.

[–]flashbang123 5 points6 points  (1 child)

So we have seen the devastating effects that porn can have on a man. The excess dopamine floods the brain lighting up the pleasure seeking zones of the. Rain, re-wiring your brain pathways making normal sex almost possible for the most addicted porn-masterbaters. What other unknown problems are hiding under the surface? What other areas of our lives have we ruined?

[–]Marcus1138 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Well, the sex life is one, but more importantly is our attention span. Being unable to focus, let alone dedicate ourselves to something is a huge pitfall. Like as a kid I could sit and read for 8 hours straight without my mind wandering. Now after 30 minutes I'm itching to check Reddit or something stupid. It's much faster to destroy your attention span than it is to form it.

[–]dianeyoung465 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Dude, this post is awesome.

[–]saganist91 3 points4 points  (0 children)

What a fantastic post. I am a real dopamine addict...

[–]PlanB_pedofile 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I get my dopamine fix from cocaine and caffeine pills, but that's a different post entirely.

[–]tiredofliving1111 3 points4 points  (0 children)

We need to make Dopamine our bitch,not the other way around.

[–]wtf793 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Top quality post. I too have been thinking about this dopamine shit, mainly because I'm still struggling with my addiction with porn, which probably led to me getting anxiety (dopamine receptors got fried).

I believe we should reduce dopamine stimulating activities. Technology has evolved, but our brains haven't. Our brains can't cope with this.

[–]SoSconed 3 points4 points  (0 children)

meh i fried my brain years ago with adderall (dont take it anymore). My dopamine sensitivity is non-existent. I'm content being emotionally detached.

[–]1sezamus 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This post is pure gold! Finally!

[–]Mr_Talent 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Refrain from sugar, from porn, from video games, from caffeine, from alcohol and drugs, from…. Yes, it is getting quite scary at this point, isn’t it? Having superpowers requires a lot of effort, and completely abstaining from these things is not required to get some of the benefits. While it may seem impossible to live without these things, you would be surprised at how easy it gets once your break the habit of stimulus, instant gratification, instant reward.

If only someone had already tested this so we could know the outcome... oh wait a lot of people have. Isn't that you wrote exactly what monks, priests and generally high religious people do? From all over the world, in a ton of different settings. I don't see any of them actually becoming super successful, or even close to "super-humans".

While I do agree with a lot of what you wrote, what I mean is that going 'monk' for a short period of time, may help. Going for a long period of time will just have the same effect as being jacked up on dopamine, i.e. uninterested/unwilling, with lack of energy. I'm more an advocate of balance, meaning that there's nothing wrong with sugar within reasonable limits, or with masturbation 2/3 times a week, or playing videogames now and then. The only thing I agree that one should completely cut-off is porn.

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[–]Endorsed Contributorthelandofdreams[S] 5 points6 points  (5 children)

There is science to backup the fact that sugar, porn, and other addictive things cause dopamine tolerance, reducing the pleasure from other things and possibly leading to behavioral or mood issues.

Yes, it is reductive to think that this is a complete picture on par with what a neuroscience would write, but there is absolutely a research based correlation.

Call it bro-science if you want, but stopping these compulsive behaviors has done wonders for me and a lot of other people.

[–]turtlemonkeigh 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Have you stopped gapping all together or limited it? I stopped all together but have been reading on doing it once a week, so I am confused. Also great read! Would love more!

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

[–]SoSconed 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Nobodies dopamine tolerance is effected by basic non psychoactive stimuli such as porn or sugar. It takes a long time for psychoactive substances themselves to develop noticeable tolerance.

[–]honeywall -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Actually, porn releases a huge amount of dopamine, big enough to desensitize dopamine receptors if used even in short-term

[–]CollaterLDamage 0 points1 point  (0 children)

thats because the average person lacks the intelligence or willpower to moderate. its easier to say "stop" than "limit this activity to "abc" amount". tell them "wait a week before fapping" and they will hold off, thinking about it all week. then when there day comes, will beat there dick raw, give up. then fap every day again.

[–]pspjoker 1 point2 points  (1 child)

thank you for posting this. What are some good ways for a dopamine fiend like myself to cut back and experience life the way it should be?

[–]GaryAir 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hey /u/pspjoker ! Check my post above and see if it helps out. Basically you should identify your problems, figure out how to fix them, and make goals that are realistic enough to achieve.

I also found that making my goals measurable but not scheduled was very helpful at first. For example, instead of saying I will workout: Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri. I would say let's workout: 4x a week. This way if you miss one lift day, you don't feel like shit, just go do it the next day.

[–]icouldhavehaditall 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I think my biggest dopamine fixes right now are weed and a ton of junk food. Yeah, this is going to be really tough to quit... :/

[–]GaryAir 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hey man you should look at my post above! Weed was my BIGGEST issue in the past. You don't have to cut it out altogether at first.

Any step in the right direction is a good one. If let's say right now you are a daily smoker, cut back to every other day, or only after your work is done. When you activate your dopamine(smoking) after actually accomplishing something, you're at least positively reinforcing your actions.

As for the junk food, I'm not entirely sure about your background. (college student, adult, highschooler), but if you're buying your own food. Just STOP getting junk food, and instead look for healthy, delicious alternatives, like fruit!

[–]pizzae 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for this. I literally needed this to stop playing video games

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this post! I really enjoyed reading it,great writing skills. :)

[–]PalaceofVersaille 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Don't REFRAIN from Dopamine... Use it as a tool. The dopamine rush from caffeine can be used to complete enjoy completing dry paperwork or education that is necessary for your career. The dopamine from pre-workout can lead to you having a killer workout at the gym, and loving every second of it. Please don't take this as "I can abuse dopamine by smoking weed to make video games and porn even better" tho.

[–]GaryAir 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Solid point, dopamine should be a tool like you said. Whenever you do something that releases dopamine there should be some productive benefit to yourself.

[–]dogextraordinaire 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Agree wholeheartedly OP. I recently graduated from college but have up to now failed to get a job. Graduating was bittersweet for me as I had always expected to walk straight into my mid-management position afterward. Well the real world sucks.

Que 8 months of working part-time in a bar, living with my parents and being depressed as shit. What was I doing at the time? Playing videogames 5 hours a day, eating like shit, drinking every evening, mindlessly refreshing forums for extra posts, sleeping in till the afternoon everyday and, oh yeah, I hadn't stepped a foot in the gym since before my final exams. I wasn't even leaving the house unless I had to go to work.

I only pulled myself out of it by talking to my parents about it, how I felt a failure etc. They gave me some solid advice- living as I was wasn't living. In your terms, I was a dopamine addict who had an endless supply on drip. How did I tackle my issues?

  1. Got back into the gym. Now I go every two days, no exceptions. I took up HIIT for the dopamine boost and started lifting heavy weights again. Now I'm in the best shape of my life, as I feel driven to do better than the last workout (different to my 'maintain mindset' during college). This also solved my drinking issue as I now know I can't drink on workout days or it'll kill my gains. I now don't drink on my off days unless socializing because it's lost its hold on me.
  2. Quit my shitty, part-time mcjob. Ok, now this one didn't go down well with my parents... but it needed to be done. Working in a service-industry role, you naturally become subservient to the customer because that's what they expect. What people don't realize is that this begins to bleed into your day to day life too. I was literally calling people sir and ma'am and putting their interests before mine on a day to day basis. In addition to that annoying effect, the fact I technically had a job kept me sitting on my ass and not looking for anything better. Well no more; I have 10 interviews lined up over the next two months now all for the positions I was going for last year.
  3. Media addiction. I now only let myself on my laptop and my xbox two hours before bed, after which I read for an hour to get sleepy. This stops me from mindlessly checking Facebook, forums such as here and playing for hours and hours. It means I'm much more productive; I'm more than halfway through a book about the media and how they lie (because I did a few PR internships I have a good idea but most people don't seem to know how they contort facts to fit an agenda).

Now I'm not perfect, I still sleep in later than I should (down from 4pm to 11am on average though) and I'm still addicted to coffee... but baby steps. I'm genuinely surprised more people don't know about how dopamine affects us, until I read your post I even just thought I was naturally coming out of my depression but obviously it was me simply controlling when I received dopamine!

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[–]GaryAir 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I found that making smaller strides at first worked better than changing my lifestyle completely.

Think of or write out a list of the actions you spend too much time on that give instant gratification. For me it was mostly: Weed(every day), video games, porn, cigarettes, junk food, and social media...a lot of negative things.

So I decided to take some steps in the right direction.

  • I cut down masturbating to where I only do it once a week vs. every day.
  • I stopped smoking weed every day and now it's a once a week friday night / saturday night kind of thing.
  • I stopped wasting countless hours after class playing video games, and instead will play a game or two occasionally after my work is done.
  • I cut out cigs completely for health reasons and am using vaping to try and get off nicotine altogether.(the hardest one for me)
  • I'm making better choices in my meals each day and drinking more water and no sugary drinks, as well as hitting the gym 4x a week.
  • Finally I've turned off all social media notifications except for text messaging, so I decide when I want to use an app.

Obviously, I'm still not living the ideal image of TRP right? But all of these things you have to work on, if you just decide one day to go from indulging in instant gratification activities to completely removing them I doubt many people will make it.

Feel happy for each time you resist one of these activities and/or make the right choice. But it's also equally as important not to beat yourself up over a mistake.

Do I jerk off sometimes? Of course. Do I miss a gym day? Yeah, unfortunately. Do I sometimes spend more time on reddit than I'd like? Yes!

But it's OK because changing yourself is a process. And the fact that you want to change is something a lot of people will never even come close to. That's why I believe that having smart, realistic goals is definitely better than trying to change your lifestyle overnight.

That being said, don't take advantage of this advice and think that doing one positive thing a day. (i.e. not fapping once entitles you to indulge in all these other instant gratification activities)

TL;DR - Figure out what activities you do that are bad for your dopamine. Make a clear and realistic plan to tackle each one, and don't give up if you slip up once.

Edit - IN NO WAY have I completely cut out all the activities I listed or the ones that /u/thelandofdreams said. But in my personal experience, I already feel so much better with cutting back on these activities the amount I have.

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[–]bonekeeper 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This brings back memories of when I was a pre-teen and was learning computer programming by myself. This was before the times of cheap Internet access, I only had text-only (slackware, pppd, minicom, lynx... rings a bell?) dial-up that I could barely afford, downloading a single mp3 song would take all night, let alone some porn video, so I would log on quickly, download as many tutorials and books and code as I could and logoff.

I would spend hours everyday coding, tinkering, reading other people's code, erring and debugging, just for that one rush of finally understanding how something worked, getting it right, making it work as I wanted it to work, mind dominating metal, shaping it as I pleased!

Best feeling ever.

I can't remember the last time I felt like that, it really does feel like something I lost. The closest thing I have to it now is hitting a PR at the gym.

One thing that I noticed helps a lot is meditation, I think it might reset our dopamine receptors somehow. Once I get back into the habit of meditation, I do get "happier" for the little accomplishments of daily life that would otherwise require some vice to trigger (usually FPS games).

[–]Shaman6624 0 points1 point  (0 children)

IMO the worst form of instant gratification is internal in your thoughts. Emotions are the most addictive chemicals. Being stuck in a dysfunctional thought pattern is the only form of addiction.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

vaping nicotine is a great way to stay dopamined all day with minimal health consequences as far as I can tell.