The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Dopamine wants change

Dopamine is released upon receiving what we craved.

As part of the human reward system, it creates reward-seeking loops. Whenever something has been pleasurable, Dopamine has been released, making us want to repeat that experience.

This reward system was designed from an evolutionary standpoint and thus provides a reward whenever one does the things one needs to do to survive. That is eat, drink, compete to survive, and reproduce.

However, the system is simple and rewards you whenever you do something pleasurable. It doesn’t distinguish whatever might be valuable for your health, your future, or the moment.

The reward system releases dopamine according to the pleasure experienced while repeating an experience. That too makes sense when seen from an evolutionary standpoint. After a while, we’ve, for example, eaten enough and it makes less and less sense to continue to eat, thus, also releasing dopamine.

In essence, when taking dopamine’s point of view, what’s important is to get something that matters. That is something or anything new. It engages you in the anticipation as well as the process of getting new stuff.

But it’s change that matters, not the stuff.

Consequently, dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek out and search. It increases your general arousal level as well as your goal-directed behavior. But again, it does it independently from the goal itself, it does it based on our desire to repeat something pleasurable. And it doesn’t care about the consequences.

If you want something and don’t have it, you might feel motivated. At the same time, if you want something and can’t have it, there is a good chance to drive yourself mad. On the other hand, once you’ve received what you wanted, it makes you ask yourself: what’s next?

Or said differently, too much and too little dopamine make it hard to regulate yourself. They may correlate with being euphoric or unmotivated leading for example to mood swings or sleep problems.

On the other hand, the right balance of dopamine may be recognizable through feeling happy, motivated, alert, and focused.

While dopamine may want change, finding a way to keep dopamine levels from changing may be what’s desirable.




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