We all feel the need to start fresh at times, build new habits and create a life that is healthy and sustainable, especially during the new year. What many of us fail to realize is the important role dopamine plays in our behaviors, habits, and addictions. Dopamine, a chemical released in the brain, is mostly involved in what gives us motivation and reward. However, certain substances and activities can create too much dopamine, but we perceive it as great pleasure and something we need more of. Think about opening a bag of your favorite chips. It seems impossible to eat just one.
The pain/pleasure balance in our brains wants to remain level. When our actions create too much dopamine, our brains quickly adapt and require a higher amount of dopamine than before to feel any amount of pleasure. While one block of the chocolate bar was once satisfactory, now we have to eat the whole bar to get the same amount of satisfaction. While quickly scrolling through Facebook was once enough to satisfy our interest, now we feel the need to spend hours on our phones with various apps. This is the product of dopamine. To keep the balance level, the more we feed the side of pleasure, the more our bodies must create pain or withdrawal.
In order to treat addiction and unhealthy habits, we must understand the science. We’ve collected resources below to help you understand how dopamine is produced and how we can better control it with healthy, natural activities that will create lasting change and joy.
“Dopamine Nation is a book written by Anne Lembke. It explains how modern society highjacks the brain’s reward system to get us addicted to a constant search for easy pleasure. It further details what happens when the brain receives dopamine as a result of consumption, what happens when it receives dopamine as a result of pain, and how we can end this addiction to live a happier and more fulfilling life.”
Living in a “Dopamine Nation”
7 Natural Ways to Increase Your Dopamine Levels
“Dopamine, a chemical messenger in your brain that governs motivation, movement, memory, mood, sleep, and behavior regulation, is central to the brain’s reward system. It rewards you whenever you engage in a beneficial behavior and motivates you to repeat the behavior.”