"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less" - Socrates.
Let's face it. Have you ever been in a state where you hear a text alert go off and desperately want to see what that message says, even when you do not know what it entails? It is because the text notification triggers a chemical in your brain known as dopamine.
Dopamine, commonly known as the "feel-good" chemical, is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain when we do something gratifying or rewarding. The more anticipation you augment, the higher the odds are of dopamine being released. Our brain will try to stimulate the repetition of the activity that first produced much dopamine. As a result, it will make you feel less excited about activities that do not release as much dopamine after that. For instance, most of us are more inclined to do activities like watching a series, cooking, or hanging out with friends instead of indulging in other mundane or arduous tasks.
Once our brain develops a tolerance for these unreasonably high levels of dopamine, it keeps demanding more. For example, if you scroll through Instagram once, your brain will probably produce a significant amount of dopamine. But before long, your brain will compulsively signal you to go back to Instagram as it knows it will get a new hit of dopamine again. Before you know it, you end up spending hours on Instagram without regard for anything else. So, what could be the solution to this problem? It’s simple: Take a break.
The key idea is to deprive the brain of any happy activities, to the point that even boring activities end up being fun. There is a common misconception that taking a dopamine detox and refraining from dopamine inducing activities will reset our dopamine levels. But taking a break from these activities will only stop continuously activating our dopamine pathways.
Cameron Sepah, a proponent of the practice, says, "The purpose is not to reduce dopamine in the body but rather to reduce the impulsive behaviours rewarded by it." Instead of starving yourself of all pleasurable activities at once, start with baby steps and hold back on one that seems to give you the most pleasure. After taking a much-needed dopamine detox, you will find yourself doing hard things at ease. Sometimes you need to deprive yourself of the things you enjoy more to start appreciating the things you enjoy less.