We are the masses, we depend on sugar and hype for happiness. If we complete an hour-long task to feel like we deserve a break, our minds wander as we think of ways to look like we have it all together unnatural stimulants, or super stimulants have wrecked the natural reward system that gives us pleasure in life. Dopamine detox can fix these issues.
We’ve gotten used to cheap fixes, and have become numb. Our myopic focus on the easy dopamine fix has driven us to ignore reality, we’ve evolved to highly desire certain things, specifically food, sex, security, and social acceptance.
Rat Studies Elucidate the Neurochemistry of Addiction
Dopamine is the chemical in our brain that creates motivation. In lab experiments with rats, when the dopamine function is fully blocked, they become so lethargic that even getting up to get a drink of water is not worth the effort. However, if water is placed right in front of them, they will still drink. This demonstrates the necessity of dopamine, we may think that hunger or thirst is what is driving us at lunchtime. But our bodies are much more complicated than that. We don’t just need to feel thirsty. We also need something that signals our bodies to get up and go. Dopamine is what spurs you into action. And the more dopamine you have, the more action you will be willing to take.
My story with Dopamine detox
Over the last week, I had an interesting experience that maybe you can relate to, I lost my headphones, and I was too lazy or just to expect that I would get them back to buy new headphones. For about 10 days now actually, I’ve been working out or going for runs without music and even driving in the car. I needed a dongle to listen to the music loudly. I didn’t have a good way of listening to my audiobooks, or something motivational on YouTube or just listen to my music. And so I would just do these activities that I normally had music with, I would do them in silence.
At first, it was annoying. I would get bored because I’ve wanted to listen to music while I was working out. And then, slowly over the last four days, I sort of got used to it.
Finally, I did end up buying new headphones. And when I first listened to music again, it was amazing. Music never sounded so good. The absence of it made it grow much fonder. This got me thinking about how dopamine, these small drips of dopamine that are so easy to just enter our lives are consistently making us more and more numb. We eat too much sugar, it’s in everything, it’s unavoidable to a large degree, I’m always listening to audiobooks while I’m driving around or even as I’m walking from my car to the office, I don’t spend that time without listening to something. And I tell myself, it’s because I’m improving myself, I’m using that time to learn something to make myself a better person. But oftentimes, I’m just using that space. To fill up the silence.
I’m reminded of an amazing bit that Louie CK did while he was on a late-night talk show where he talked about how people will go to amazing lengths to fill up the silence even while driving, they’re willing to text or to just look at something on their phone. Why? Because they can’t even for a moment, live with that silence.
“You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taken away. Underneath everything in your life, there’s that thing that is empty, forever empty“Louie CK
Silence is the greatest teacher
The great problem with this is the fact that silence is often the greatest teacher. This is something that the Hindu sages would have advocated for, and something I’ve experienced in my own life. The best results that I’ve often gotten have come from a place of ease from that silence. I’ve gotten hunches and intuitions that when I acted upon, the result was amazing. It was so much better than all the grit, all that hard work, all that effort that I could have put into it. And yet, all these super stimuli in our life, sort of prevent us from listening to the silence, and I don’t want to lose that touch.
You don’t want to be so dopamine numbed like those rats in those studies who refuse to get up and go get the water that they need, even if they’re thirsty. They can’t even bring themselves to create movement.
Dopamine detox: My experience
Oftentimes, to have the most ease, elegance, movement, flow in life, requires being willing to live with peace and patience with the silence. That’s something that you want to have more of in your life.
That’s why I’ve decided that for the next 24 hours from going to sleep tonight through the next day, I’m going to do a hard reset, a dopamine detox in which I don’t use the internet at all. And I’m just going to try to spend that day as chill as possible. 24 hours later, I realized after the fact that for this to have been a perfect dopamine detox fast, I probably should not have eaten any food today. And I did have lunch and dinner. And I also had a single cup of coffee because I just couldn’t resist, I was starting to feel like that itch for caffeine. I guess I’m addicted.
I did not go on the internet, staying off my social media, and also giving myself that quiet space in between driving around today. Relaxing, just not listening to anything, just listening to the silence, listening to myself. It’s been wonderful.
Dopamine detox: The results
I felt that my mental health is higher than it’s been in a long time, I do realize how much of a toll on YouTube, this whole hobby of mine had been sort of affecting me mentally, which even though you’re just trying to connect with people and say what’s true to you, you end up being tied up with all of these results, that isn’t important to your life’s work, at least that’s what I had noticed, has started happening with me.
The beautiful thing about this dopamine fast is that I was just in the silence. I was away from all of it. And it’s an absolutely beautiful feeling to just come back to yourself, and listen to your inner genius.
Silence is the key to do dopamine detox
According to so many sources, silence is a source of tremendous creativity and tremendous genius. You can learn more in an hour of silence than you can from a year’s worth of books. And yet, how infrequently do we give ourselves the space to just listen to our thoughts? When was the last time you drove around and didn’t have something playing didn’t have something going, or didn’t have some sort of stimuli in your world?
Giving yourself that space of quietude. It’s a very strange feeling. And it does invoke all these nervous etchings at first, but then after a while, it is the source of your foundational strength, your source of peace, and it feels amazing. The most important component in all of this is the fact that dopamine is deeply connected to your ability to move. Dopamine is movement, and if you consistently numb yourself with super stimuli, as I have been prone to do, then you’re preventing movement in your life, and moving is living. Keeping these moments of detoxing, of fasting of reducing the stimuli. It’s a wonderful way to be, and it’s something that you’d like to do much more.