How to Train Your Brain to do Hard Things
We live in a world today where companies are after one thing from you. Your attention. That’s it. They no longer ask for your money. They want you to rack up those minutes with your eyes glued to the screen. Every design, sound, application is designed to keep your attention and they keep your attention by manipulating a chemical in your brain called dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a key part in motivating behaviour. When you eat delicious food you get a hit of dopamine because it tastes great and calories are critical to survival, when you have sex, because sex is critical to furthering the human race, when you have successful social interactions, because humans are social creatures. In a nutshell, dopamine rewards us for certain behaviours and that reward motivates us to repeat those behaviours. But there is also a dark side to dopamine. It can manipulate you into spending long periods of time doing activities that get you nowhere. Why study now when we can watch one more youtube video. Why work on your business when you can go for 5 more minutes on Instagram. These activities give us an instant dopamine release with no effort on our part at all. We are passive actors getting an instant feel-good chemical.
Knowing this, is it any wonder that people struggle to do hard things? So how do we train our brain to do hard things?
A dopamine detox is an idea where you remove easy dopamine from your life for 24 hours and then replace high dopamine activities with their difficult but worthwhile low dopamine counterparts. The initial detox isn’t a silver bullet. It is more about showing your brain that you can survive without checking Instagram or Facebook 20 times a day.
Pick a day of the week. Probably a weekend day and remove all high dopamine activities for 24 hours. From the time you wake up until the next morning, you can’t check your phone, go on your computer, watch TV. You can’t eat fatty, sugary junk foods. You can’t masturbate or watch pornography. You can, however, talk to people, go for walks, meditate and journal with a pen and paper. You are probably going to be bored out of your mind and it will feel uncomfortable. But you are starting to reset your brains constant craving for easy dopamine hits.
Then you start to replace passive high dopamine activities with active lower dopamine activities that get you results in life such as studying, working on a business or reading a book. The idea is that your brain gets used to the reduced amount of dopamine and stops craving the quick fix.
You are still allowed to partake in passive high dopamine activities like watching youtube videos or going on social media but you have to earn that time through low dopamine activities. So, for every hour you spend on low dopamine activities you get to spend 15 minutes on passive high dopamine activities.
If you do this your life will change dramatically. You will train your brain to do the hard stuff. You will become a creator instead of a consumer. Challenge yourself today and try it for 30 days and see what a difference it will make in your life.