Ep 39: Controlling Your Dopamine for Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction Notes
Rating: 9/10Author: Andrew Huberman Listen to The Original
Episode 39: Controlling Your Dopamine for Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction Notes
One of the most eye-opening pieces of content I have ever consumed. Literally everything we do releases dopamine, and those days you feel less motivated or depressed than others most likely has to do with this neurochemical.
- If your dopamine is too low, you will not feel motivated. If your dopamine is really high, you will feel motivated and if your dopamine is somewhere in the middle, how you feel, depends on whether or not you had higher dopamine a few minutes ago or lower dopamine, this is important. Your experience of life and your level of motivation and drive depends on how much dopamine you have relative to your recent experience.
- If you scroll social media and you see something you really like dopamine hit Sure there's an increase in dopamine but then you get to something else and you know, not that interesting. However, had you arrived at that second thing first, you might think that it was really interesting. If you had arrived to that second instagram post three days later or four days later, you might find it extremely interesting. Again, how much dopamine you experience from something depends on your baseline level of dopamine when you arrive there and your previous dopamine peaks. Okay, that's super important to understand and it's completely neglected by the general language of dopamine hits. This is why when you repeatedly engaged in something that you enjoy your threshold for enjoyment goes up and up and up.
- Exercise will have a different impact on the levels of dopamine depending on how much somebody subjectively enjoys that exercise. So if you're somebody who loves running, chances are it's going to increase your levels of dopamine two times above your baseline, not unlike sex, people who dislike exercise
- There's a really interesting paper published in 2015. This is Volkow at all. You can look it up, it's very easy to find that showed that regular ingestion of caffeine whether or not it's from coffee or otherwise increases up-regulation of certain dopamine receptors. So caffeine actually makes you able to experience more of dopamine effects because as I mentioned before, dopamine is vomited out into the synapse or it's released volumetric lee but then it has to bind someplace and trigger those g protein-coupled receptors and caffeine increases the number the density of the G protein-coupled receptors. Now sitting back and thinking about that you might think oh yeah you know sometimes I'll notice
- Let's move this to modern day. I'm gonna I'm gonna run this marathon, I'm gonna train for this marathon, then you run the marathon and you finish, you cross the finish line, you feel great and you would think, okay, now I'm set for the entire year, I'm gonna feel so much better. I'm gonna feel this accomplishment in my body, it's gonna be so great. But that's not what happens. You might feel some of those things, but your level of dopamine has actually dropped below baseline. Now, eventually it will ratchet back up.
Scenario of a normal dude's week and how that troublesome if you want to be a high performer, this example was eye opening for me.
- These sorts of patterns of activity. But what about the more typical scenario, what about the scenario of somebody who it is really good at working during the week. They exercise during the week, they drink on the weekends. Well that person is only consuming alcohol, maybe one or two nights a week, but oftentimes that same person will be spiking their dopamine with food during the middle of the week. Now we all have to eat and it's nice to eat foods that we enjoy. I certainly do that. I love food in fact, but let's say they're eating foods that really evoke a lot of dopamine released in the middle of the week. They're drinking one or two days on the weekend. They are one of these work hard, play hard type. So they're swimming a couple miles in the ocean in the middle of the week as well. Uh they're going out dancing once on the weekend. Sounds like a pretty, pretty balanced life as I describe it. Well, here's the problem. The problem is that dopamine is not just evoked by one of these activities. Dopamine is evoked by all of these activities and dopamine is one currency of craving motivation and desire and pleasure, There's only one currency. So even though if you look at the activities you'd say well it's just on the weekends or this thing is only a couple times a week. If you look at dopamine simply as a function as a chemical function of peaks and baseline it might make sense why this person after several years of work hard, play hard I would say. Yeah you know I'm feeling kind of burnt out. I'm just not feeling like I have the same energy that I did a few years ago and of course there are age related reasons why people can experience drops in energy. But oftentimes what's happening is not some sort of depletion and seller metabolism that's related to aging.
- What's happening is they're spiking their dopamine through so many different activities throughout the week that their baseline is progressively dropping.
Learn to receive pleasure from effort itself.
- “Don’t spike dopamine prior to engaging in effort, and don’t spike dopamine after engaging in effort. Learn to spike dopamine from effort itself.”