Humans naturally seek dopamine releases and the path of least resistance. This is a dangerous combination. Things that feel good for a second can make our lives worse in the long run. Striving for boredom can be the solution.
Dopamine is the reward system of the brain that plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It makes us feel good for accomplishing things and helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.
We need this system because hard work is uncomfortable. Nobody likes feeling uncomfortable. We won’t work hard unless there’s something to make up for the discomfort. Dopamine does that.
But our system can be hacked. It’s possible to get instant gratification without having to do any of the hard work.
Instant gratification is a bitch.
Most are enslaved by it.
Many believe it's essential.
But it's only with discipline that you're truly gratified.
— Zaid K. Dahhaj (@zaiderrr) December 7, 2019
These hacks are ubiquitous in modern life. They give us dopamine rushes without having to put in any effort. You, me and the people around you are probably heavily addicted to the majority of these sources:
- Scrolling social media timelines.
- Receiving social media likes.
- Following news.
- Following politics.
- Watching porn.
- Reading text messages.
- Checking email.
- Eating junk food.
- Playing video games.
- Watching Netflix.
- Watching TV.
- Watching sports.
- Listening music.
- Using drugs.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Buying new clothes.
- Drinking alcohol.
Easy rushes make us lazy, less disciplined and numb our minds. They make us lose our motivation to do any hard work, that is necessary to do the important things to achieve your life goals.
Like working out for better body composition, sleeping more to get fit, cooking your own meals to be healthier, building your own business to be less vulnerable or getting social to improve your relationships. The more you are aiming for in life, the more dopamine you’ll need to keep you motivated and the more you need to cut down on wasting it on bullshit.
Among the best skills for real life: the ability to be bored early.
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) December 27, 2019
Boredom is the solution to get out of this vicious circle. You need to get yourself so bored that you are willing to put in the hard work in the important things again.
Therefor you’ll need to abstain from the low value activities that I listed above. By doing this you are cultivating boredom on purpose, sparing dopamine in your brain to plug it into things that are more valuable and useful to improve your life instead of wasting it on activities to escape your feelings.
I don’t think you need to cut out all of them completely. I don’t even think that’s possible in the modern age. But you do need a lot of moderation. Like always, there is no quick fix. You should do it step by step.
I already cut the majority of the list out of my life, one by one. Cutting out something new every two months has turned out to be a good pace for me. The compound effect of it makes a lot of difference in energy levels, focus, anxiety and creativity. I’m planning to go on like that and cut out more of them.
You can only spend your time and energy once, so do it wise.