How Easy Sources Of Dopamine Kill Your Drive and What To Do About It

How Easy Sources Of Dopamine Kill Your Drive and What To Do About It

Quick reminder: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. It plays a crucial role in motivation and decision-making. And if you only feed your brain with cheap, easy dopamine, it’s going to be satisfied with that and it’s going to turn you into a couch potato with low willpower and drive. Bye bye long-term goals and motivation. Sounds scary? It’s not that bad, as long as you are aware of what’s happening.

Who Are The Culprits That Give You Cheap Dopamine And Instant Gratification?

1. Social media: Never-ending scrolling in discovery mode, receiving likes and comments, that’s all quick dopamine hits.

2. Smartphone Notifications: Messages, emails, app alerts, and all those things that make you feel like stuff is happening in your life.

3. Junk Food: Sugary or highly processed food gives you a temporary boost in mood and pleasure. Yummy.

4. Online Shopping: How cool is it to make impulsive purchases without even leaving your sofa, right? Satisfaction! Excitement!

5. Video games: Well, those are designed to activate the brain’s pleasure center with rewards, achievements, leveling up.

6. Porn: Oh yeah, this one, of course, a massive cheap dopamine provider. 

7. Substance use: Alcohol, drugs can induce feelings of euphoria and pleasure through the release of dopamine.

8. Procrastination (who would have thought?): Engaging in mindless activities or avoiding responsibilities can provide a sense of relief and pleasure in the short term.

9. Binge-watching, gambling… and more.

How Do Cheap Sources of Dopamine Slowly Kill Your Drive?

First, forget about long-term goals. Why bother? Instant gratification, babe, so much better than delayed rewards. And here goes your motivation down the drain, along with gaining valuable qualities such as patience and perseverance.

There is that. And also, in the long run, here is what you might be facing: more procrastination; reduced productivity, drive, and ambition; diminished sense of accomplishment leading to feeling empty and dissatisfied; impaired self-esteem and self-confidence (especially with social media and porn). There is also a possibility that these cheap dopamine hits contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

My point is not to blame or make anyone feel bad or scare the hell out of you. I’m doing most of the above, too. I’m just saying – be aware of what you’re doing. Of course, we don’t realize it when we take our phone out of boredom and lose track of time scrolling on Instagram or TikTok. Or when we drop a conversation for a few seconds because we got a WhatsApp notification. But it’s not “just” distraction. So, I’m only inviting you to pay attention.

A Few Ideas To Counteract These Culprits

1. Set goals: Define specific, meaningful, and achievable goals that provide a sense of purpose and direction. Realistic ones, too. Otherwise, it might look too hard to achieve, and you’ll be back to square one.

2. Limit distractions: Establish boundaries with social media, phone notifications, and other easy dopamine sources during dedicated work or study sessions. Put your phone aside when engaging in social interactions. Try digital detox, even for one hour.

3. Practice delayed gratification: Train yourself to focus on long-term rewards and find joy in the progress made towards achieving your goals. Get excited about something that’s not immediate. And fully enjoy it once you get there.

4. Create a productive environment: Design a workspace that minimizes distractions and supports focus and concentration. Or get out to a coworking space or even a coffee shop. It makes it a bit harder to procrastinate. Or watch porn.

5. Engage in mindfulness and self-awareness: Understand your triggers for seeking easy dopamine and find healthier alternatives to cope with stress or boredom. Yes, it’s mildly unpleasant for a moment. Still, there’s a sense of pride in not running to your phone or Netflix. Try to get an idea of what scares you if you’re not having your instant gratification.

6. Seek accountability: Share your goals with others or find an accountability partner to stay motivated. That helps tremendously. Get all the support you need to stay on track; it does get easier with practice.

7. Take breaks and reward yourself: Incorporate regular breaks and plan rewards for completing tasks to stay motivated and maintain a healthy balance. Real rewards.

These are a few approaches that I’ve tried. Worked for me. Of course, it’s not about quitting everything and living in a cave. Just pay attention to your patterns and seek a healthy balance between short-term gratification and pursuing long-term goals or meaningful activities that contribute to overall well-being and fulfillment.


If you want an accountability partner or a gentle nudge to deal with some of your habits, drop me a line!

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