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Fix Your Dopamine Deficit

dopamine happiness pain pleasure Nov 10, 2022
April Price Coaching
Fix Your Dopamine Deficit
38:05
 

Today, I’m talking about how pleasure and pain work together to determine our level of happiness, how to know if you have a dopamine deficit and how to fix it.

All of us want to be happier. But that’s actually part of the problem. Our constant desire for happiness, pleasure, ease, and contentment and our easy-access to dopamine-triggering activities and substances is causing most of us to end up in a dopamine deficit. 

This means that the more we pursue pleasure, the more pain we end up feeling. 

The Scriptures tell us that there is opposition in all things. And when we strive for life without negativity or negative emotion, we are missing the point of our earth-life experience and inadvertently creating more negativity than is naturally occurring. 

And it isn’t just spiritual. There is a biological reason, as well.

The goal is not always joy and happiness. Our goal is really about achieving balance, about feeling both bad and good in our lives in the right amounts. 

 

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a chemical that is made in our brain, and it is essential to the amount of pleasure that we feel in our lives. 

And for each pleasure response, there is an equal and opposite pain response that might feel something like disappointment that the pleasure is over or a craving for more. So the more dopamine (pleasure) we have hit our brains, the greater the opposite pain response. Over time this makes us feel worse and leads to more discontent. 

 

Dopamine Nation

We are living in a time and place where abundance is everywhere. We have an almost infinite supply of high dopamine producing drugs, foods, and behaviors - things that are designed to release a whole lot of dopamine all at once. So much so that our brains are really not designed or evolved to be able to tolerate it. 

We’re simply getting more dopamine in our systems that we are equipped to handle.

 

Do you have a dopamine deficit?

When too much dopamine is being released, the brain will start producing less of it, and it will pull some of the receptors so we don’t take in too much. It tries to restore balance.

In the process, our brain actually ends up in a dopamine deficit.

Over time, we need more and more of the things that give us the pleasure response, and it creates a bigger and bigger pain response on the other side.

In her book Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke says that dopamine deficit can feel like depression and anxiety. We can have those same symptoms of withdrawal that come with any addictive substance. You might feel irritable or have more anxiety, insomnia and cravings because those are the natural pain responses when we're not having enough dopamine.

 

How to fix your dopamine deficit

I talk a lot about how important your thoughts are - how your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings drive all the actions in your life. And if you're in a dopamine deficit, it will be harder and harder to direct your mind and choose positive, useful thoughts. 

So how can you adjust how much dopamine you’re getting from outside sources so that your brain can start to produce more dopamine, get out of this dopamine deficit and be able to think more positive thoughts in your life?

 

Purposeful renunciation of pleasure

The first way to increase your brain’s dopamine production is to limit the amount of dopamine rich activities in your life.

What are things you feel you need to do or consume more and more of to get the same reward? Which things cause discomfort to you when you don’t have them?

 

Purposeful pain

Another way to return your brain to balance it to increase and invite more pain into your life. This will help you increase your tolerance for pain and actually lead to more overall happiness. 

There are lots of ways you can allow for discomfort, including putting yourself in uncomfortable places, exercise and problem solving.

I personally think that we each have enough negative emotion in our lives, that we can introduce and invite pain simply by allowing ourselves to truly feel what is already there. , 

Choosing your life doesn’t mean choosing happiness all the time. It really means choosing your life experience intentionally, including the negative. It means that in order to get the most out of this life, we have to feel both good and bad. 

 

You’ll Learn: 

  • What dopamine is and how your brain’s dopamine response works
  •  How our pleasure is directly related to our pain
  •  The effects of dopamine deficit on your motivation, drive, pleasure and pain
  • Ways to create more lasting happiness in your life

 

Resources:

  • Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lembke
  • The 12-Hour Walk by Colin O’Brady

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the 100% Awesome podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.

Hello podcast universe! Welcome to episode 184 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I want to welcome you to the podcast and just give a big shout out to those of you who are listening and sharing the podcast. And if this podcast is blessing your life and you ever want to like say thank you, the best way that you can do that is to share this podcast with somebody that you love. I find its really hard to find a good podcast, right? Like, I'm always searching for one. There's no like database or search engine that tells you like where all the good ones are. And so, like there are literally millions of podcasts out there. And so, yeah, if this podcast has been helpful to you, pass it on to somebody else. If it has changed the way that you look at yourself or your life or your potential or your relationships or your own brain, I would love it if you would share it with somebody else, somebody that you love.

Today we are going to dive in and talk about how to feel happier in our lives. And I'm going to share something that I have learned recently that I think everybody should know in relation to our happiness. And so, if you know somebody who wants to feel a little bit happier, this might be one this might be one to share with somebody else, okay?

So, really quickly, before we get started, I wanted to let you know that in three weeks, on December 1st and second, actually, as I say that out loud, like let's not freak out that December is in three weeks. Like, just saying that like in three weeks it's going to be December 1st kind of freaks me out a little bit. But anyway, on December 1st and second, I am going to be giving a free two day class, a two day event, I should say, called From Dream to Done. And I'm going to be teaching you how to turn all your dreams for 2023 into reality and set you up for an incredible new year and you are all invited. I am holding you over two days so that I can teach you everything I know about achieving your goals and dreams and really overcoming the obstacles that get in the way for every one of us.

And also so that I can have plenty of time to coach you on your specific dreams and your life and the things that you want so you can sign up for this free two day event from dream to done by going to my website. Aprilpricecoaching.com/dream or by texting the word dream to 66866 and that will get you registered, okay? I would love to help you take all your dreams and get them done, all right!

So, with that, let's get on to the episode. This episode today is really been born out of my own search for answers over the last month or so. I think I shared with you a couple of weeks ago how throughout October and really in the post 29029 weeks of my life, I really struggled with finding motivation and drive and purpose and really feeling pretty down and feeling like it was like a serious fight to be happy and to find joy and to like, find some motivation every day. And so, I think this has been the case for a lot of reasons. And I talked about those on that podcast. I mean, some of it is just the natural result that comes after a big accomplishment. And just this time of year, it can be a struggle for a lot of people. And 29029 was kind of a distraction from empty nesting. And the transition that I've been going through as a mother. And so, like all of these things all at once just feels like it kind of hit me, and I had a rough month. But I also have been curious about what else could be going on with my brain, what is happening inside of me where I'm feeling like so much additional negative emotion and discontent and really like being curious about myself and curious about my experience has helped me to learn some new things about the brain that I really want to share with you.

And as I share some of the things that I have learned that have been like, really useful to me, I don't want you to feel like I am oversimplifying your problems. There are a lot of reasons that we can go through periods of not feeling good and and even like feeling down isn't a problem in and of itself. Like, I don't want you to hear like, I'm feeling down. And so, now I need to solve something. It isn't a problem to feel down and discouraged. And in fact, today you're going to learn like why it's actually important that we have these times in our lives where we're not just feeling joy and pleasure and happiness all of the time. The truth is negative emotion is a really important, vital part of our human experience. And when we try not to feel bad, we can actually create more problems for. For ourselves, which you're going to see today. The Scriptures tell us that there is opposition in all things, and when we are striving for a life without negativity and without negative emotion, we are, I think, not only missing the point of our Earth life experience, we are actually inadvertently creating more negativity than is naturally occurring.

And that is really important to understand. There is a very good reason that you can't feel happy all the time. And it turns out that it's not just a spiritual reason, it's actually a biological reason. There's a very good biological reason why you can't feel happy all the time. And so, this episode today isn't to encourage you into a place of like, perfect, exquisite happiness all of the time. It's really just designed to help you understand what is going on in your brain to have some awareness about what is happening chemically, what is happening with our thoughts, and so that we can actually like be really purposeful about the way that we pursue happiness and joy in our lives. Because if we're just out to feel better and better, actually what ends up happening is we feel worse and worse as time goes by. And so today, as you listen, I want you to keep those two things in mind. One, I'm just going to give you one tool, and it's not going to be the complete answer to all your happiness concerns and problems, right. It is just one other thing to consider as you look at your life and the way you are experiencing the amount of joy you're having, and it can be a really good way to get some awareness there and.

As we go to do that and make changes and make shifts so that we can, you know, experience more real joy in our life, remember that the goal is not always joy and always happiness. It's not only happiness. Our goal really is going to be about achieving balance, about feeling both bad and good in our lives in the right amounts. When we try to pursue too much happiness, we end up getting out of balance and actually feeling too much bad in our lives. Okay, so we're going to talk about an idea called the dopamine deficit and the effect that this has on your life, on your motivation, on your drive, on the amount of pleasure or pain that you have in your life, and so that you can use your understanding of the way your brain uses dopamine for you and not against you, which is what is actually happening for most of us.

And one factor that's really contributing to our increasing unhappiness in general. Okay, so just first of all, let's just think about what dopamine is. Dopamine is, and this will be a very simplified version, but dopamine is a chemical that is made in our brain. It's called a neurotransmitter, which just means that it's like sending information back and forth between the neurons. And there's a gap between our neurons. And these chemicals pass through that gap and communicate from neuron to neuron. And dopamine is one of these neurotransmitters.

And this chemical is really essential to the amount of pleasure that we feel in our lives. And it plays a really important role in the reward and motivation circuits in our brain. So, I think most of us have heard of this chemical. We know that it feels good, right? And so a lot of times we think that, okay, the more the better, right? Like, if dopamine makes me feel good, then I just want all that I can get, but it's really important to understand how dopamine actually works in the brain, because actually, in the case of dopamine, the more we have, actually the worse we can feel. And one of the primary causes of this increased discontent and happiness in our lives is that we've had too much dopamine hit our brains and then our brains have adjusted and downregulated for all this dopamine and is actually like made us over time feel worse and worse.

So, there is a really awesome book called Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lemke, who's a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, and she is also the chief of the addiction clinic there at Stanford. And in her book, she talks about this idea of homeostasis, which just means balance, right? That our brain is always trying to return things to balance. And she gives this example of a teeter totter. So, I want you to kind of imagine this teeter totter in your mind. And on one side of the teeter totter is pleasure, and on the other side is pain. And your pleasure and your pain in your life. They are processed in the same center in the brain, and they're on either side of this sort of metaphorical teeter totter in your brain. And your brain is always trying to get that teeter totter level to move that teeter totter back into balance or homeostasis, right? The goal is balance, the goal is not pleasure skewed all the way to pleasure all the time. The goal for your brain is balance. This is how it keeps you regulated and motivated and protected while you were alive here on Earth.

And so imagine then when dopamine is released, it's like the pleasure side of that teeter totter swings down, right? All of those dopamine chemicals are released on that pleasure side of the teeter totter. And now things are out of balance, it's skewed to the pleasure side. And like the pain side, it's kind of like up there in the air, you can kind of imagine that. And so the brain, in order to like even out that teeter totter, it then releases what Dr. Lemke calls pain gremlins on the other side of the teeter totter to push that teeter totter back down to the other side and return it to balance. Okay, so you have to know that every time dopamine is released in your brain, when you get that reward sensation, you get that pleasure sensation, your brain also is going to release pain gremlins to the other side of the teeter totter to bring it back into balance. It's important to know that we can't just pursue pleasure forever. I mean, it sounds awesome, right? But it's like fundamentally, biologically impossible to feel pleasure all the time. Our brain is always striving to return balance back to that center position. And no matter how hard we try to push our brain towards the side of pleasure, it's going to always push back.

Like I said at the beginning of this podcast, we know that we live in a world of opposition. We can't just have pleasure. There are actually deep seated mechanisms, biological mechanisms in place when dopamine is released and you have a lot of pleasure. There is an equal and opposite pain response that naturally happens in your brain, like your brain is programmed to return back to balance. And so, for every pleasure response, there is an equal and associated pain response. Okay, now, for most of us, we maybe aren't even totally aware of the pain side of that teeter totter. When we return back to balance, it's going to feel really subtle and it is for for the most part, it's almost outside of our conscious awareness.

So, like an example of this is like if you watch, like, let's say a fun YouTube video and the video ends and you got that little dopamine hit from the entertainment of the video. And then just as it ends, you have that fleeting moment of like wanting more and being disappointed and that little like, Oh, it's over. And we have that little drop, right, that equal and opposite reaction. And and that is our brains way of saying, okay, you've had fun, there's dopamine, and now we're not going to come back into balance. And I'm going to compensate that with this like semi irritable craving state. Okay, and for us here in the modern world, like, I want you to think about our ancestors when they had a dopamine hit from eating food and then they had the opposite reaction, like the food is over and they have that little craving and it's kind of disappointing that the food is over. Like that was the end of it. They would just feel the opposite side of that and return to balance because food was limited. They couldn't just eat forever, right? Or watch unlimited YouTube videos.

But what happens to us here in the modern world is like we feel that little dip. And were like, Oh, click next video, right? Oh, scroll to the next real oh, eat the next chip in the bag. And now we'll undo that little pain response, right? And what happens because of like the time and place in which we live, when there is abundance everywhere, every time we get that sort of like dip and those pain gremlins hit the other side of the teeter totter, we don't like how that feels. And so, we immediately try and get another dopamine hit.

So, I think it's important to point out that that pleasure pain sort of teeter totter works the other way as well, right? Like when you are hungry and you have pain and discomfort associated with that hunger, then we go and seek were motivated to find food so that we can get the dopamine response and that teeter totter can get back into balance. And that's what causes us to eat and causes us to seek warmth. And it has been really essential in keeping our species alive, right? They've done experiments on rats where they block their dopamine receptors, and when those receptors are blocked, they don't even eat the food that's in front of them. They are unmotivated to eat the food in front of them because the dopamine receptor has been blocked. They don't have the motivation to seek the food.

So, of course, I think I hope you can see like, okay, this makes a lot of sense when resources are scarce and when there's dangers around, right? Like it was a signal to tell us to like, do that again, seek more food. But the problem is that that primitive wiring is really mismatched for the modern world in which each of us have an almost infinite supply of highly reinforcing high dopamine producing drugs, foods, behaviors. These are things that are designed to release a whole lot of dopamine all at once, things like sugar, highly palatable food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, social media, gambling, online shopping. Like we have so many things that are creating these, like intense dopamine reactions that our brains are really not designed or evolved to be able to tolerate. And these activities release a lot more dopamine than we are equipped to deal with.

And so in response to that, what happens is like we get this big hit of dopamine and our brain is like, Whoa, there's way too much here, I'm way out of balance. And so, then it down regulates how much dopamine we have. It stops producing so much and it takes the little receptors that are on the synapses and it pulls them in. Imagine these little receptors, they're like catcher's mitts on the outside of the synapse, and they're just like out there ready to receive the dopamine. What happens when there's too much dopamine? Your brain pulls those receptors in so that you don't take in too much. And so, what happens is, is over time, our brain is not producing as much dopamine and we don't have as many receptors. And so what's happening is like we are actually our brain is in a dopamine deficit, even though it doesn't feel like it, right? It's down regulating the dopamine just to bring us into balance and just to bring us to baseline. The trouble is because we've downregulated it, we are going way below baseline and because we have less receptors and less dopamine production, it means that we're going to need even more dopamine next time to get pleasure, right? We're going to need even a bigger hit, and that's going to create an even bigger equal and opposite reaction on the pain cycle.

So over time, what happens is the things that give us the pleasure response, we need more and more and more of it. And at the same time, it's creating a bigger and bigger pain deficit on the other side. And Dr. Lemke says that this feeling, this dopamine deficit, feels like depression and anxiety. And we can have those same symptoms of withdrawal that come with like any addictive substance, right? Like she talks about how you'll feel irritable and you'll have more anxiety, more insomnia and cravings because those are the natural pain responses when we're not having enough dopamine. Again, the reason we're not having enough is because our brain has down regulated how much it's taking in. And like, really think about that teeter totter and and like the pleasure side and the pain side. Over time, what happens is the more dopamine we're exposed to in these high levels, the teeter totter fulcrum or that center point in which it's like balanced on is moving farther and farther left to the pleasure side so that it takes more and more and more dopamine to push the pleasure response.

And we swing like that other side is like swinging really, really low and we are feeling really, really bad. So, I recently just was watching an interview that Matthew Perry did with Diane Sawyer, and he was talking about his addiction and he was talking about at one point. He was having to take 55 Vicodin a day and a bottle of vodka and all this other stuff just to get to balance, just to get to normal. And it's because that teeter totter, the fulcrum, had shifted so far to the left. It took an enormous amount of dopamine hits just to bring that bad feeling up into balance. There was so many pain receptors on the other side because his body had so downregulated the dopamine that it took enormous amounts 55 Vicodin in order to get that dopamine response up and balance out that scale again. Okay, so I really want you to see the over time, the more pleasure I pursue these more dopamine rich experiences I pursue, the less my brain is going to produce dopamine, the less it's going to receive it, and then the more I'm going to need.

And this can create in the long term, more depression, more anxiety. And we notice that it's really hard just to feel okay in our lives. We end up needing a lot more dopamine just to feel normal. And when we don't have it, we're feeling enormous amounts of discomfort and pain. And this is also why it's really hard to stop doing these, like highly dopamine producing activities, right? We go through a period when we feel really bad. If you've ever had, you know, a chance where you like, gave up social media, you gave up sugar or, you know, like, or watch somebody like come off an addiction. Like you feel so much worse before you feel better. And it's because that teeter totter is so shifted towards the pain side. It's going to take a long time for it to come back into balance for that fulcrum to move back to center. So, the bottom line is that when we do something that is highly and immediately pleasurable or reinforcing, like we are going to pay a price for that and the price is that our body shuts down dopamine production and we go into a dopamine deficit state and the aftermath of that.

Is is a painful experience in our dopamine rich world. In our modern world, like this is exaggerated even more because we have so much availability to flood our brains with constant sources of dopamine. So, probably most of us are walking around with like downregulated brains when it comes to dopamine, and over time we end up feeling so much worse. Okay, so I know that's a lot of information and I just want to kind of like summarize a couple of things.

First, because of the way that your brain works, the very things that you are using to make yourself feel happier or better may actually be making you feel worse. Because the natural response to a dopamine release is pain. In order to bring us back into balance, we have to have that pain response in our modern world. A lot of us are counteracting that natural pain response with more dopamine, and that creates this like never ending quest for more and more pleasure to hold off that pain response.

And notice how eventually, because we're in, we have so much access to easy dopamine that ends up hijacking our brains. And so we are living like ironically, in dopamine deficit where our brain is just down regulating its production. And that means that overall we end up feeling more pain than when we pursued the activity. So, we can end up feeling more pain than is natural. You've probably seen how they've done studies that in countries where there's a lot of money and where we can like have more pleasure and we can kind of offset many of the discomforts of life, people are actually more unhappy, there's more depression, there is more suicide in wealthy countries, and it's because of this dopamine deficit.

We don't have enough naturally occurring pain in our life so that we are always out of balance here and in a dopamine deficit. And over time we just become more and more unhappy. And a lot of us, you know, we look around our lives and we're like, I don't have any reason to be unhappy, okay? I must be a bad person, I must be ungrateful, and that is not the case. It's just that we've been exposed to so much dopamine. In many cases, our brain has reset the levels of the amount of pain and pleasure we are feeling. And we have to have, like, it's a lot harder to feel good, and it's a lot easier to feel really bad because of that dopamine deficit. Now on this podcast, I talk a lot about how important your thoughts are and how your thoughts are creating your feelings. And your feelings are like, you know, driving all the actions in your life. And I just want you to know that, like if we're in a dopamine deficit and it's like really hard to feel good in our lives and it's going to be harder and harder to direct our mind and choose positive, useful thoughts.

And so, we we really want to think about adjusting how much like dopamine I'm getting from outside sources so that I can like, start to like, have my brain produce more dopamine and get out of this dopamine deficit, so that I can lower the bar to being able to think more positive thoughts in my life. And if you look around your life and you find yourself struggling with motivation or drive or enjoyment, it's just really hard to be happy. I really want you to take a look and see. Is it possible that I have created a dopamine deficit in my life by engaging in one of these or many of these high dopamine activities? I could really want you to think about how like imagine that you've spent some time in your day, like in superficially dopamine rich activities, right? And you really feeling that like dopamine kick into your brain has downregulated all the dopamine in your life, and then you go to clean your house or work on your business or read your scriptures or play with your children.

And like, not only are you going to have all of the resistance, your brain's natural resistance to spending energy, but you're already also in a dopamine deficit, and now you're feeling the pain side of that, like increased dopamine. And that teeter totter is heavily skewed to the pain side. And so then all the things, all the hard things that we have to do today are even harder. And it's no wonder that we procrastinate even more and buffer even more. When we buffer even more. What I mean is we buffer against that pain side of the teeter totter.

Okay, so what do we do about this? What do we do to get out of this dopamine deficits that are brain and start producing natural baseline levels of dopamine so that we can feel like motivated, driven and happy in our lives. So I'm going to suggest and Dr. Lemke talks about this, Andrew Huberman talks about this as well. He's another doctor at Stanford. And they they talk about doing one of two things. And this is the part of the podcast that you might not like, but like I think if you're willing to consider these things, it will help you to be able to get out of this dopamine deficit. And then over time, it's going to increase your feelings of well-being, increase the quality of your life, and give you more motivation and also pleasure in the things that you were doing. And that's going to increase in your life over time. At the beginning, it's going to feel really uncomfortable again because we're in a dopamine deficit. So the pain side is heavily emphasized and it's really hard to feel good. And so then I'm going to ask you to do these two activities that are going to like, feel worse at the beginning, but over time will make a huge difference.

So, the two things that we can do, one is what I call the purposeful renunciation of pleasure, which means like we're purposely trying to feel less pleasure. Now, I know that doesn't sound great, but I mean, explain it. And the second one is a purposeful invitation of pain. And again, that doesn't sound great either. But but I think overall, like over time, this can make a big difference in the amount of overall happiness in your life.

Okay, so the first one, like a purposeful renunciation of pleasure, means to really limit the amount of dopamine rich activities in your life. I want you to kind of look around your life and do an honest assessment and and ask yourself, okay, where am I needing to get more and more of a thing with less and less reward, right? Where am I doing things that when I'm not doing them or I'm not eating them or I'm not like using them or partaking them, I am extremely uncomfortable, right? In other words, like where am I dependent on this outside dopamine source to just feel normal or like somewhat okay.

So, just to give you an example of this, Colin O'brady has a new book called The 12 Hour Walk. And the idea is that you go on this 12 hour walk and you don't take your phone or anything to listen to. You don't take headphones, you don't listen to a podcast, you don't listen to music, you don't talk to anybody that you're just alone with your thoughts, right? And I like heard about this and I was immediately like, no, that is not for me like, I cannot go 12 hours without listening to something else besides my own thoughts like that just feels so uncomfortable. And that shows me right there that, like, there is a part of me that really needs that outside input in order to feel okay like that, outside input, the music or the podcast or whatever it is I'm listening to is providing like a dopamine rich activity that I feel like I need in order to like keep these sort of pain gremlins at bay, right?

And I've just started noticing like, yeah, I always have to have something on, right? Like when I'm, when I'm on a walk or when I'm in the car, immediately I've got to have a podcast on or, you know, when I'm cooking dinner, which doesn't happen very often. When I cook dinner, I got to have, you know, Netflix playing or something happening, right? And it's just really important to start to look throughout my life and recognize when I am feeling a negative emotion like boredom or anxiety or stress. What do I do? What do I reach for in order to avoid that feeling? In in coaching, we call this buffering. What is it I'm looking I'm using in my life in order to just, like, feel okay. Like to not just feel totally awful, right? And then I really want to challenge you to pick one thing and to go on a dopamine fast, to be able to reset you back to baseline and move that the fulcrum of that teeter totter back in line with natural levels. And Anna Lemke talks about like really giving it up, whatever, whatever your, you know, dopamine of choice is to give that up for 30 days and let yourself reset.

And she, of course, says like the first two weeks are awful because like the pain gremlins, like the pain side of that, that teeter totter is going to be really heavy and really hard. She's like, but she's she's done this in practice for many, many years. And she said by day 30, people feel so much better and about their entire lives. And she says, if you can't do this, just challenge yourself to go 24 or 40 hours without a single screen, without picking up your phone, without answering a text, without watching anything, without like any social media.

Like, really challenge yourself and notice how uncomfortable you feel. Like. Like, watch yourself. Observe yourself. Ask yourself, What am I feeling? What are the emotions that I am feeling? And really watch that pain response with interest and curiosity. And don't judge yourself right. It's just like this is just really good awareness. Like, what changes do I need to make? Am I feeling worse in my life because I keep using this outside source of dopamine and am I willing to give it up in order to like bring me back into balance and like receive normal amounts of pleasure and pain in my life? And if you're saying like, April, this sounds awful, the whole reason I'm listening to this podcast is that I can feel better, not worse, right? I just want you to know, like, that's the problem. We just always want to feel good and we can't always be feeling better. The surest way to feel bad is to try to feel good all the time. And just remember that what you're doing is in service to your overall happiness, to the overall quality of life you are feeling to to feeling better in your life. Because right now it's really hard to feel good when you're in a dopamine deficit. It's really hard to feel good, and we are feeling way more pain than we need to be, way more pain than is naturally like happening for humans in the world. And I really want you to feel better in the long term. So, that's the first thing, is to, like, really, like, give up on purpose. Some of the pleasure in your life were places I could cut back in receiving pleasure, right?

And then the second thing is to increase and invite more pain purposefully into your life and really increasing your tolerance for pain and like pursuing discomfort as a purposeful way to overall happiness. I know that sounds like counterintuitive, but it's really true that like before we lived in this modern world, this dopamine rich world, like pain was a natural part of that. And our brains, when they experience that pain, would naturally want to get back to balance by giving us dopamine. And so we're missing out on that. So, there are lots of ways that you can increase and allow yourself to invite more pain and discomfort into your life and really like asking yourself, how am I making myself uncomfortable? Like, for example, if I eat that cookie and then have that little craving afterwards, am I letting myself experience that pain? Just the pain, that little craving, the little kickback of pain that I gift after a dopamine hit? Am I letting myself experiencing that or am I trying to cover it up with another dopamine hit? There are other ways to be uncomfortable, like cold showers and ice baths, quiet car rides, fasting like purposely putting yourself in uncomfortable places can help. You can help reset and let your brain like fall back into its natural balance.

One of the things that I do is really simple is just like really requiring myself to work without buffering, without picking up that phone, without scrolling social media. Exercise is a really good way to increase discomfort in your life and get a natural dopamine response. Other things are like problem solving. Do I have goals? Do I have things I'm working on? Are the problems I'm trying to solve in my life that can create a lot of pain and discomfort to be like solving that problem and then to get the natural dopamine response after I saw that, like a lot of these doctors said, even like puzzles or genealogy where you're trying to like solve something, that pain. Introducing that kind of discomfort of a puzzle in your life can increase the the amount of natural dopamine that your brain is producing. I personally think that we each have enough like negative emotion in our lives. If we would just let ourselves feel it, that that would be enough to introduce pain into our lives and invite pain into our lives. What happens is when we feel bad, we almost immediately try to make it better.

We eat something or we scroll something or we, you know, buy something online or, you know, we we do something to cover up that pain. If you can just open to your whole human experience and let yourself feel and process your negative emotions, that is a way to just invite more natural pain into your life. For most of us in our modern lives, we have been sold the story, the line. We have this belief that we should be happy all the time. And that is actually what is hurting us the most. I've recently just started telling myself the simple thought that discomfort is an important part of my happiness. Just being happy all the time is not the goal. No one here on earth escapes the fall. No one can design a life without discomfort and pain. And when we try to, we try to create a life without any pain or any inconvenience or any discomfort. Then our brain adapts so that it's harder to feel good and easier to feel a whole lot worse. Life is 5050, and so either you are going to consciously and purposely seek for that natural dopamine balance, or you're feeling both negative and positive emotion in your life.

And I think that takes real conscious effort in our world to choose that, to choose to feel bad. Sometimes we're either going to do that and we're going to purposely choose that kind of life, or we are going to be left with the effects of living in a dopamine deficit in which our brain has so downregulated our own production and reception of dopamine that we end up feeling worse and worse all the time. So I talk a lot on this podcast about choosing your life, and I think like we sort of think when I say that, like even I think at some times that this means like choosing happiness and choosing happiness all the time, but it doesn't mean that it can't mean that choosing our life experience intentionally means also choosing the negative.

It means that in order to get the most out of this life, we have to feel both good and bad. And especially today, we have to intentionally start choosing to feel bad on purpose so that we can feel good more okay, because it turns out that feeling bad is the only way to feel good. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.

If there are goals and dreams that you've had, but you just can't seem to get started on them, or you find yourself giving up long before you've accomplished them. Come to my free workshop from Dream to Done on December 1st and second. I'll show you how to overcome your fear and your excuses and anything that's in your way and set you up with everything you need to take your dreams to done in 2023. Go to Aprilpricecoaching.com/dream to get registered or text the word dream to 66866.

 

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