Dopamine Is The Unlock To Infinite Personal Growth

How you use dopamine will determine a lot about the trajectory of your life. Dopamine and addiction go hand and hand. Your dopamine systems can turn you into a gambling addict, someone who scrolls social media for hours on end, or pushes you into the exact person you want to be.

Addiction is a superpower, but all superpowers can be used for evil.

The world is becoming more connected. Data is the most valuable resource for tech companies today, second only to attention. Companies are now able to collect, mine, and process data faster than ever. Their ability to test and optimize platforms continues to grow as technology progresses. What are optimizing for?

The second most valuable thing, you attention. 

Paul Graham said “Unless the forms of technological progress that produced these things are subject to different laws than technological progress in general, the world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40.”

All the technology that exists today can be used to improve your life or turn you into a mindless, dopamine driven zombie. The choice is yours. You can rise to new levels with greater abilities or sink into a downward trend of degeneration. Your superpower is your dopamine.

How do we get dopamine?

You’re evolved to crave dopamine. It’s the chemical that drives all of your habits. For our brains, this is the chemical that stimulates the pleasure centers. It makes us feel good. All of your habits tap into this fine tuned system in the brain through years of evolution.

Stanford professor Brian Knutson conducted a study1 where he had people gamble under an fMRI machine. Throughout this they observed the parts of the brain that were most active. The results were surprising.

The pleasure centers of our brains are not the most active when we receive the reward. They light up in anticipation of it. Knutson and his team concluded that what pushes us to acti is not the sensation from the reward itself (i.e., smoking a cigarette). It’s our need to alleviate the craving (thinking about smoking a cigarette).

Dopamine is the anticipation of action.

Use dopamine to unlock intrinsic motivation

What if instead of shaming your desire for dopamine you used it to your advantage?

You turn building up positive traits into a rich source of dopamine. Sean Parker, the Napster guy, is quoted by saying “running a startup is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood.” Why do so many entrepreneurs continue to run businesses then?

Entrepreneurs continue to struggle because running a business has become the purest source of dopamine they can get. Dopamine unlocked the intrinsic motivation within them. 

Alex Hormozi has this idea that one of two things grows when you run a business. Only one can be growing at a time and that’s either:

  1. Your growing personally
  2. Your business is growing

Entrepreneurs love the taste of their personal evolution. The anticipation of their inevitable evolution is the source of dopamine. The world sees their end product, the valuation, and the exit. On the inside, these people have established neural circuitry that reinforces the development of themselves.

On April 7, 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition left Fort Mandan. No American had seen anything farther in the west. He knew from then on he would be making history. Meriwether Lewis knew he was exactly what Jefferson wanted him to be. Optimistic, prudent, alert to everything new, well versed in flora and native inhabitants, able to take measurements from the sky, healthy, ambitious, determined and most importantly an intense feeling of being alive.

Dopamine had been the fuel that prepared him for this moment. Every nerve ending was sensitive to what he saw and felt. He was finally bringing out his full potential.

Become a production person

In order to use your dopamine to unlock your personal potential is by becoming a production person. Most people are consumption people. They’re dopamine is driven by anticipating the next item they can consume. A bigger house, nicer car, or a more expensive watch push them forward.

Leveling up in life for a consumption person is about being able to indulge in more luxury.

Become a production person and everything soon becomes a compounding vehicle for you to reach your potential. Production becomes a tool for you to create a better quality of life. At first it may be getting a house or car. Eventually it transforms into creating new things that don’t exist.

Production people compete against themselves.

Dopamine for production people is used to create better things for your life and others. A production person is trying to produce the best version of themselves. You’re Lewis and Clarke moment exists somewhere in the future. Use your dopamine to evolve as you anticipate it in the future.

FOOTNOTES
  1. Dubol, M., Trichard, C., Leroy, C. et al. Dopamine Transporter and Reward Anticipation in a Dimensional Perspective: A Multimodal Brain Imaging Study. Neuropsychopharmacol. 43, 820–827 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.183
  2. Ambrose, S.E. (2016) in Undaunted Courage. Simon & Schuster Ltd, p. 216.
  3. The original idea was adopted from part of this podcast here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yixIc1Ai6jM

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