The reduction of problematic activities.
Aluna: Ana Luísa M. Rodrigues
▪ Why do we have trouble doing activities that do us good?
▪ How does Dopamine relate to our motivation?
▪ Is there any way to make it easier to perform difficult activities?
Basically, like your car, like your
computer, like anything you
own, there is some kind of
you need to take it to check or
fix something. And we need
that, too.The problem is we
don't do it with ourselves
anymore. Due to constant
exposure to stimuli, like our
phones, technology and the
Vices and exposure to stimuli– 1
I haven’t doubt that you can sit in front of a
screen and stay there for two hours or
maybe more without losing your
concentration. But how about half two hours
of study?Wow!That must be really hard!
And clean the house for one hour? Doesn't
sound very attractive, right? Although you
know that studying, exercising, doing chores
or something equally productive will bring
more benefits in the long run, you still prefer
to watchTV, play video games and surf
Vices and exposure to stimuli– 2
And it's a obvious question. Between
one easy activity that doesn't require
much effort, and another that is difficult
and requires you to devote yourself, you
will always choose the easy one. But
some people have no problem studying,
exercising, or working on their projects
regularly. And this raises the question:
Why are some people more motivated
to face difficult things? And is there any
way to make the difficult things easier?
Vices and exposure to stimuli - 3
Dopamine – 4
To answer that question, we need to
understand about a brain
neurotransmitter called dopamine.
Dopamine is often considered a
pleasure molecule. But that's not
exactly what it does. Dopamine is
what makes us want things. And it's
that desire that gives us the
motivation to get up and do things.
Experiences with rats – 5
To demonstrate how powerful
dopamine is, I'm going to present some
experiments that neuroscientists have
done on rats.The researchers
implanted electrodes into the brain of
rats. Whenever the mouse pulled a
lever, the researchers stimulated the
reward system of the mouse brain.The
result was that the mouse developed
such a strong desire that it kept pulling
the lever, repeatedly for hours.The
mouse refused even to eat or sleep. It
simply kept pressing the lever until it
fell from exhaustion.
Experiences with rats – 6
Then they reversed the process.The
researchers blocked the release of
dopamine from the brain's reward
center. As a result, they didn't want to
eat, they didn't want to mate, they
didn't yearn for anything.You think its
thirst or hunger that motivates us to
get food or water. But there's also
dopamine that plays an important role
here.You can see similar effects that
dopamine has on humans and on our
Release of dopamine – 7
So, if an activity releases little
dopamine, you won't have much
motivation to do it. But if an activity
releases too much dopamine, you will
be motivated to repeat it several
times. But what behaviors release
dopamine? Before doing any activity
there is a potential reward, which
releases it. But if you know that there
are no immediate rewards from the
behavior, your brain won’t release it.
Release of dopamine – 8
Like, for example, before you eat tasty
foods, your brain releases dopamine
because you know that the foods will
make you feel good. Even if they
actually make you feel worse. Almost
any activity we do can generate
dopamine, even drinking water when
you are thirsty releases it. And the
ones that generate the most dopamine
are random rewards, like in casino
games.We are becoming like those
rats pulling the lever, trying to get a
new dose of dopamine.
Homeostasis – 9
But anyway, what's the difference?This
isn't really hurting us, right? No, wrong.
And I'll explain why. Our bodies have a
biological system called homeostasis.
That means our bodies like to keep their
internal physical and chemical conditions
at a balanced level. Whenever an
imbalance occurs, our body adapts to it.
Homeostasis can manifest itself in
different ways, one of them is tolerance.
For example, someone who has been
drinking alcohol for a long time does not
get drunk so fast, because his body has
developed a tolerance to alcohol.
Homeostasis – 10
And with dopamine it's not
that different, your body
tends to negatively regulate
its dopamine receptors. And
that can be a big problem,
because things that don't
provide that much dopamine
don't interest you anymore,
and it's much harder to
motivate yourself to do them.
The solution – 11
But is there anything to avoid that?The
answer is that you need to perform a
dopamine detox.What you should do
is book a day where you will avoid all
highly stimulating activities. That way
you can let your dopamine receptors
recover. During this day you will not
use the internet or any technology like
your phone or computer, you will not
listen to music or eat any unhealthy
food. Basically, you will remove all
sources of external pleasure.There will
be boredom, and it certainly won't be
The solution – 12
But one of his goals is to deal with the
fear of boredom we experience in our
daily lives. For example, you have
noticed that when you are in a public
place, without the company of people
you know, but around several other
people who may not even be noticing
your presence, you immediately pick up
your cell phone, or a book in your
backpack, doing literally anything is
valid for you not to show a feeling of
The solution – 14
So, during the day you can exercise,
meditate, reflect on your life, write
poems, read books or even draw a
And why does this work?Well, once
you isolate yourself from all the big
sources of dopamine, the small
sources start to look more attractive.
Simply put, you get so bored that
boring things start to look fun.
The Solution – 15
You don't have to do it all at once, but
you can start one day a week, or even
set aside just two hours at the end of
the day for activities with high doses of
dopamine as a reward. And if you're
addicted to unhealthy things like
alcohol or cigarettes, try trading them
in for games or movies.
But is it up to you where you want your
dopamine, things that will benefit you
in the long run, or harmful things?
The choice is yours.
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