Discover more from 2 mins.
Of Dopamine, Focus & Essentialism
Why we need to do play intentionally
Ever had the feeling of wanting to chase something really bad? It could be pursuing a goal, competing in a race, etc. ‘Feeling of wanting something’ is where Dopamine comes in.
Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It's a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.
Dopamine is what brings in the urge of wanting to do an activity. Now Dopamine can lead to negative(addiction) or positive effects. Usually, the association of Dopamine with rewards can bring in negative consequences.
In a study conducted on pre-school children who liked to draw, an experiment was done. Children were given the task of drawing, and sketching pictures because they really enjoyed doing it. A batch of them was taken out and they were given some kind of a reward (like a star, or candy) whenever they completed a drawing. After some time they stopped giving them the Gold Star. And soon the children stopped drawing and showed very less interest in the activity, even though they enjoyed it.
Now, this is known as intrinsic vs extrinsic reinforcement. When we receive rewards in any manner we tend to associate more pleasure with the reward compared to the activity. This in turn tunes our dopamine level in such a way that the high that is required to do the activity lacks dopamine levels and the reward is where it all goes to.
Now, this can be bad for us, because the dop that we actually need while doing the activity shifts to the reward and we end up neglecting the joy of doing the activity. This is pretty evident when we have to do any kind of hard physical labor like gymming, etc. Essentially the gym body is what we think will be rewarding but not the process to it.
This is where we can restructure our dopamine levels. The act of Striving is what we can work on and cultivate a growth mindset. The effort, hard work and the pain can be re-wired to be considered as rewarding.
This will lead to a dopamine high at the right time.
The only way that this can be done is if we are strongly focused on the goal and highly motivated by the activity. David Goggins is an awesome example of a person who started this ‘enjoying the pain’ trend.
LEARN TO SPIKE THE DOPAMINE FROM THE EFFORT ITSELF.
Now let’s say we got the right focus. We have the dopamine hit at the right time which is helping us make progress. This is where the second part of our focus comes in. That is Essentialism.
Having the right focus does not mean you doing lots of things and handling multiple things at once. But does that mean that you should do all?
Being focussed and successful does not mean that we need to do all things at once. It’s not about getting more things done in less time. But it’s about getting the right things done.
Many people suffer from this Paradox of Success where they try to achieve everything at once. The undisciplined pursuit of more is what overpowers the disciplined pursuit of less.
So how do we approach this and get out of the slow zone? There are several ways that we can do that:
By eliminating the non-essentials from our lives
Being intentionally focused on one thing rather than many
Don’t focus on a thousand things and try to improve them but focus on one and work with your dopamine to bring it out bit by bit.
Routine. We always tend to underestimate the power of routine that can help us put things together and achieve.
The power lies in recognizing/identifying the ONE goal that can help us for the longest span. If we could be truly excellent in one thing what would it be?
A lot of things that I have written about are not original but come from a dump of recent articles and podcasts I have been listening to: