How I Tricked My Brain To Like Doing Hard Things (dopamine detox)

How I Tricked My Brain To Like Doing Hard Things (dopamine detox)


You probably don’t have a problem playing
video games or browsing social media on your phone. In fact I have no doubt you could sit in front
of a screen and do both of those activities for 2 hours, or even longer without breaking
your concentration. But what about half an hour of studying? Oof. That might be too hard. How about working on your side business for
another hour? Hmm. Doesn’t sound too appealing. Even though you logically know that studying,
exercising, building a business or something equally productive, will bring you more benefits
in the long run, you still prefer watching TV, playing video games and scrolling through
social media. One might argue that it’s obvious why. One activity is easy and doesn’t require much
effort, while the other activity is difficult and it requires you to apply yourself. But some people seem to have no problem studying,
exercising, or working on their side projects, regularly. Which begs the question: Why are some people
more motivated to tackle difficult things? And is there a way to make doing difficult
things, easy? To answer this question, we need to look at
this brain neurotransmitter: Dopamine. Dopamine is often considered a pleasure molecule. But that’s not quite what it does. Dopamine is what makes us desire things. And it’s that desire that gives us the motivation
to get up and do stuff. If you’re not sure how powerful dopamine is,
let me introduce you to a few experiments neuroscientists did on rats. The researchers implanted electrodes in the
brains of rats. Whenever the rat pulled a lever, the researchers
stimulated the rat’s reward system in the brain. The result was that the rats developed a craving
so strong they kept pulling the lever, over and over for hours. The rats would refuse to eat or even sleep. They would just keep pressing the lever until
they would drop from exhaustion. But then the process was reversed. The researchers blocked the release of dopamine
in the brain’s reward center. As a result, rats became so lethargic that
even getting up to get a drink of water was not worth the effort. They wouldn’t eat. They didn’t want to mate. They didn’t crave anything at all. You could say that the rats lost all will
to live. However, if food was placed directly in their
mouths, the rats would still eat and enjoy the food. They just didn’t have the motivation to get
up and do it themselves. You would think that it’s thirst or hunger
that motivates us to get food or water. But there’s also dopamine that plays a key
role here. Those rat experiments might be extreme cases. But you can see similar effects dopamine has
in humans and in our daily lives. In fact, your brain develops priorities in
large part based on how much dopamine it’s expecting to get. If an activity releases too little dopamine,
you won’t have much motivation to do it. But if an activity releases a lot of dopamine,
you’ll be motivated to repeat it, over and over. So which behaviors release dopamine? Any activity where you anticipate there’s
a potential reward, releases it. But if you know there are no immediate rewards
with the behavior, your brain won’t release it. For example, before you eat comfort food,
your brain releases dopamine, because you anticipate that the food will make you feel
good. Even if it actually makes you feel worse. That’s because your brain doesn’t even care
if the high dopamine activity is damaging to you. It just wants more of it. A stereotypical example would be someone who’s
a drug addict. He knows that what he’s doing is not good
for him. But all he wants is to get more of that drug. Besides getting you high, cocaine and heroin
release unnatural amounts of dopamine, which in turn makes you crave them even more. Of course it has to be noted that nearly everything
releases some amount of dopamine. Even drinking water when you’re thirsty, does. But the highest dopamine release happens when
you get a reward randomly. One such example is playing on a slot machine
in a casino. Even if you’ve only been losing money until
that point, you eventually expect to get a bigger reward. You just don’t know when it could happen. And
in today’s digital society, we are flooding our brains with unnaturally high amounts of
dopamine on a daily basis, even if we don’t know it. Some examples of high dopamine behaviors include:
scrolling through social media websites, playing video games, watching internet pornography,
etc. We anticipate some sort of reward with each
one of those behaviors. That’s why we’re constantly checking our phones. We expect to see a text message or some other
notification. And we know that eventually we’re going to
receive it. We’re becoming like those rats pulling the
lever, tying to get a new dopamine hit. And you might think, “Oh so what?” “It’s not like it’s harming me in any way.” But you’d be wrong. Our bodies have a biological system called
homeostasis. It means that our body likes to keep internal
physical and chemical conditions at a balanced level. Whenever an imbalance occurs, our body adapts
to it. Let me give you an example: When it’s cold
outside, our body temperature falls. And as a result, we start shivering to generate
heat and warm the body. However when it’s hot outside, our body temperature
rises. And we start sweating to lose some of that
heat. Essentially our body is looking to maintain
a temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius or 98 degrees Fehrenheit, no matter what. But there is another way homeostasis manifests
itself. And that is through tolerance. For example, someone who rarely drinks alcohol,
will get drunk really fast. But someone who drinks on a regular basis,
will have to drink more alcohol, because their body has developed a tolerance to it. Essentially it takes more and more alcohol
to make them drunk, because they’ve become less sensitive to its effects. And it’s not much different with dopamine. Your body tries to maintain homeostasis, so
it down-regulates your dopamine receptors. Essentially your brain gets used to having
high levels of dopamine and those levels become your new normal. Thus you develop a dopamine tolerance. This can be a huge problem, because the things
that don’t give you as much dopamine, don’t interest you any longer. And it’s much more difficult to motivate yourself
to do them. They feel boring and less fun, because they
don’t release as much dopamine, compared to the things that do release it in high amounts. That’s why people tend to prefer playing video
games or browsing the internet, compared to studying or working on their business. Video games make us feel good and comfortable,
as they release a lot of dopamine. Sadly things like working hard or reading,
releases it in lower amounts. This is one of the reasons why drug addicts who
try to quit, have a hard time adjusting to a normal life. Their dopamine tolerance gets so high that
normal life isn’t able to match it. They become like those rats from previous
experiments who have no motivation to do anything if there’s not enough dopamine release. And it’s not just drug addicts. People who are addicted to video games, social
media or internet pornography experience the same thing. Once their dopamine tolerance gets too high,
they simply aren’t able to enjoy low dopamine behaviors. Which begs the question: Is there anything
that can be done to prevent this? The answer is you need to perform a dopamine
detox. By now might already have an idea what dopamine
detox is going to look like. What you’re going to do is set aside a day,
where you’re going to avoid all the highly stimulating activities. You’re going to stop flooding your brain with
high amounts of dopamine and you’re going to let your dopamine receptors recover. Just a disclaimer: If you’re suffering from
a drug addiction, then I suggest you seek professional help, as you’ve probably formed
a physiological and psychological dependence. And I don’t want you to experience any extreme
withdrawal symptoms. Now back to the detox. For 1 whole day you will try to have as little
fun as possible. You won’t be using the internet, or any technology
like your phone or computer. You’re not allowed to listen to music, you’re
not allowed to masturbate or eat any junk food. Basically you’re going to remove all sources
of external pleasure for the entire day. You’re going to embrace boredom. And trust me, there will be a lot of boredom. You are however allowed to do the following:
Go for a walk. Meditate and be alone with your thoughts. Reflect on your life and goals. Write down any ideas you get. Not on your computer or phone, but on a physical
piece of paper. All of this might seem quite intense. But if you want radical results and you want
them fast, you need to be able to take radical action. Now you might be asking yourself: Why would
this even work? You can think of it this way. Let’s say that you’ve been eating every single
meal at the best restaurant in your town. As a result, what happened is that those fancy
meals became your new normal. If someone offered you a bowl of plain rice,
you would probably refuse. It simply wouldn’t taste as good as your usual
restaurant meal. But if you suddenly find yourself stranded
on a deserted island and you’re starving, suddenly that bowl of plain rice doesn’t seem
so bad. And that is what the dopamine detox does. It starves you of all the pleasure you usually
get, and in turn, it makes those less satisfying activities more desirable. To put it simply: Dopamine detox works because
you become so bored, that boring stuff becomes more fun. Now if you don’t want to take such extreme
action and starve yourself of all the pleasure, you can perform a smaller dopamine detox. You’re going to pick one day of the week,
where you’re going to refrain from one of your high dopamine behaviors completely. Whatever that behavior might be. Maybe checking your phone all the time, playing
video games on your computer, binge watching TV, eating junk food, watching internet pornography,
whatever. And from now on, every single week for one
whole day, you’re going to avoid that activity. You can still do other things, but the behavior
you pick is off limits. Yes, you will feel slightly bored, but that’s
the point. You want to let your dopamine receptors recover
from the unnaturally high dopamine that’s been flooding your brain. And boredom is going to propel you to do other
things that day. Things that you would normally put off, because
they don’t release as much dopamine. And because you’re bored, it’s easier for
you to do them. Of course avoiding high dopamine behavior
once in a while is good. But ideally you should avoid those behaviors
altogether, or at least as much as possible. Instead you want to connect more dopamine
to the things that will actually benefit you. And what I found is that your current high
dopamine activities, can serve as an incentive to pursue things, that actually give you those
long term benefits. In other words, you could use your high dopamine
activity, as a reward for completing difficult work. And this is exactly what I do myself. I track all the difficult, low dopamine work
I do. Cleaning my apartment, practicing the piano,
reading books, doing some sort of exercise, creating these videos, etc. After I’m able to get a certain amount of
work done, I reward myself with some amount of high dopamine activity at the end of the
day. The key words here are: after, and, at the
end of the day. If I indulge in high dopamine behavior first,
then I’m not going to feel like doing the low dopamine work. I’m simply not going to be motivated enough. So I always start with the difficult things,
only then I allow myself to indulge in high dopamine activities. To give you an example: For every completed
hour of low dopamine work, I reward myself with 15 minutes of high dopamine behavior
at the end of the day. That means that for 8 hours of low dopamine,
I allow myself roughly 2 hours of high dopamine behavior. Of course, these are my ratios. You can tweak them to your liking. Also it has to be noted that if you’re addicted
to something that’s damaging to your health, then you don’t want to treat that behavior
as a reward. Instead find a different reward, that’s not
as damaging. One that you still think is worth the effort. And if you’re wondering what my guilty pleasure
is, it’s the Internet. I can easily get lost there for hours without
doing anything else. That’s why I have this system. It’s so I’m able to control my addiction. But make no mistake, even with this system,
I still plan days where I abstain from high dopamine activities completely. To conclude this video I want to say that
it is possible to make doing difficult things, feel easier. But when your brain is getting so much dopamine
all the time, you won’t be as excited about working on something that doesn’t release
much of it. That’s why you might want to limit your phone
and computer usage, along with other high dopamine releasing behavior. And I can tell you that it’s definitely worth
it. So if you have motivation problems, start
dopamine detoxing your brain as soon as possible. Separate yourself from the unnaturally high
amounts of dopamine, or at least expose yourself to it far less frequently. Only then will normal, every day, low dopamine
activities, become exciting again and you’ll be able to do them for longer. We are all dopamine addicts to a certain extent. And that’s a good thing, because dopamine
motivates us to achieve our goals and improve ourselves. But it’s up to you to decide where you’re
going to get your dopamine from. Are you going to get it from things that don’t
benefit you? Or are you going to get it from working on
your long term goals? The choice is yours. If you enjoyed this video, I would really
appreciate if you would gently tap the like button. It helps out my channel a lot, as the almighty
Youtube algorithm sees that people like these kinds of videos and it shows my content to
a bigger crowd. This allows more people to start improving
their lives. As always, thanks for watching, and I hope
this video made you better than yesterday.

100 Comments on “How I Tricked My Brain To Like Doing Hard Things (dopamine detox)”

  1. It helps immensely to have a vision of what you are aspiring to achieve. Doing hard things without any belief is tedious.

  2. Doing hard things takes a lot of effort. You need discipline, something that most of us lack. Your solution was really clever—if we stop being trapped in our short-term thinking and constant pleasure, we can start focusing on the long-term hard things that will change our life.

  3. this is almost a coincedence because i am going cold turkey from alcohol today. ive quit before but ive gone back many times

  4. I love your channel and i hope you'll grow fast. I wish you succes in the low dopamine things that you have to do 😂

  5. Hey! I’ve got a question! I’m final exams are starting within a few days. So should I follow this, cuz I’m scared I would experience withdrawal syndrome and not be able to study properly?

  6. Am the person one who addict to GYM.I don't know why,I control these all things for a week, but at the 7th day I pay the high for whole 6 DAYS,,,,let's suggest me some ideas to Skip that one day too…I want to totally ESCAPE from this high dopomine activities at silly things…like you mention at all in these video.

  7. Dopmaine is essential for healthy life cutting it down now and then is good obviously however too much of anything is an addiction.

  8. Fasting can be a major part of a detox day. Also, I have noticed great benefit from incorporating daydreaming time throughout my work day (aka. being bored on purpose). Let me give you a regular example:
    I schedule a bid appointment for 10am. The appointment is a 20 minute drive away. What time do I leave?
    I leave the office at 9am so I can be sure to arrive on time, no matter what delays "the road" throws at me.
    When I get to the neighborhood, I drive by, looking at the yard, getting an idea what I might bid, and then park somewhere (at a park nearby, or a connecting street) to pass the time. Sometimes, I have to wait 45 minutes. I use that time to "look out the window" like I used to do in Elementary School! (Who knew that would be one of the most valuable skills I'd ever learn in school!)
    I look at trees, houses, yards, imagine myself BBQing in any number of them. I look at cool features on homes (brick work, driveways, gates, etc) and just enjoy it.
    When I knock on the door, I am more relaxed than you could possibly imagine.

    Great Video!

  9. Dopamine detox days are great days to spend all day doing boring tasks constantly. You get a lot done, and in the process, you begin to really enjoy the bowl of rice. The more simple things I can take delight in during each day, the happier I will be!

  10. Thank you for this video! My February has been really unproductive. I had to put in my best effort to find a motivating video to improve and inspire myself. I am glad I stumbled across this. Liked and subscribed instantly!!!

  11. Honestly, what works for me is cannabis. I work from home and do school online, whenever I dab before these activities I can work much longer and enjoy it because I'm riding the dopamine wave and maintaining discipline. As long as you stay productive it's really effective.

  12. Someone on the YouTube explained this same topic… as dopamine fast….
    Don't you guys have genuine ideas??
    This topic is trending doesn't mean that you have to make the same one just for making money and say I do this everyday…. I know how hard it is to make an YouTube video and maintain a channel…
    Do, we really have lack of genuine and fresh ideas??

  13. Thanks! I needed an intervention. Dopamine detox will be great. Starting today, after what hung this video.

    Sorry if I don't give you more views on your videos, is part of my healing process.

  14. Hm, makes sense.
    However, in fear to point the obvious, why does videogames, porn, junk food etc. give high dopamine, but studying, going for a walk, working, give small?
    Isn't it all psychological?
    As you said, there are people who have no problem working, studying or reading.
    I believe the real problem comes from doing a lot of activities with low dopamine.
    For example, if someone hates their job they will be much more likely to do something else. Just because you did something so unenjoyable you want to 'make up'.
    I believe it all depends on person's attitude.

  15. How I needed this. I've been in an entertainment high that's not been taking me very high at all. The simple, basic things are truly the most powerful things. Thank you.

  16. May i ask, is doing detox 1 day radically will really change my whole dopamine homeostasis nor i have to do it once a week or month

  17. It helps immensely to have a vision of what you are aspiring to achieve. Doing hard things without any belief is tedious.

  18. I actually rotate which activity i ban myself from 2x a week. I never really thought about it, but i realized it simply wasnt as rewarding as it used to be. Because i meditate every day about recent activities. I have done this since i was an early teen

  19. When i saw one of your videos for the first time i was like "this is one of those channels with millions of subscribers" and i was disappointed to see that you have only 280k :/ i think you deserve more and i really like your videos. Good luck! 😉

  20. Please create a podcast. I usually just listen to your videos, and I wish I could listen to this on a podcast regularly, so that I don't have to go on YouTube to consume your content.

  21. Thank you so much 4 this video, it came at the right time. After watching your video I just quit a phone game that had me hooked and made me feel bad about myself for postponing some important stuff on my life. I'm begining my detox today, let's see how much I can accomplish and finally go to the gym and read a new book. Cheers

  22. 8:13 "No music" ohhhh shiiit…. i knew music was fucking with me

    wait, can i play physical sports!!?

    11:57 2 hours… fuck, thats sooooo long!

  23. The last slide is about person's attention, the most valuable and actually monetized resource. You choose who to give it to: advertising platforms or to youself

  24. What about watching YouTube videos on how to do online business activities I get so bored watching knows that I can't even watch it 1 for 5 minutes before turn it off how do I fix that

  25. I love your videos!!!!
    I was asking myself last night, why I am not as happy as I used to be.
    This explains it and gives me a goal/hope!
    Thank you!

  26. This is what I've suspected happens to my kids with the daily gaming and the way everything else becomes so "boring" for them. It's like everything else in life fades in comparison to fx Fortnite. I hate it. I hate that they don't appreciate "normal life" as much. It feels like an uphill battle every day. We're gonna do what I've wanted to do for a while: detox. I've had a plan in my head for a while, but this was the proof I needed to justify it. Thanks!

  27. The illustrations really enhance your narrative and get your message across clearly.
    The other advantage of occasional detox- it takes a little silence and solitude in your life for your true creativity to emerge.

  28. Thank you! You just explained one reason why fasting is good for the soul (it's good for the body, too). Fasting was mentioned in the Bible 3300 years ago, and it has been a blessing ever since.

  29. The dopamine detox does work for many low tier addictive behaviours (social media, gaming, for examples), I believe one day of detox is a too short of timespan for it to work most effectively.
    In my experience, it took a full week after deleting Instagram before I started enjoying reading again.
    A very good video nonetheless!

  30. I reward my self with essential oil shower gel bath after i done 3 hours of cleaning and tidyng up my house. And also rewarding my self with 3 to 4 episode of netflix series or Kdrama after I done my work project or tasks

  31. I did a dopamine detox for around a month, restrained myself from porn, sugar, drugs, social media. Exercised a lot and ate healthy. I couldn't believe that after all this time of restraining from high doses of dopamine that even seeing a cat meme made me laugh hard and seeing a cool tree punched pleasure into my brain. This is probably what it feels like to be human.

  32. I’m starting to do this in Sunday’s with my family ❤️ three hours with no tv or phones, I’m calling it quiet time. They’re gonna hate it 😭 lol

  33. I’m not sure that would work for me. Recently I’ve become quite motivated and productive because i paired some hard things to my silly addiction a like social media. Now the good things are crowding out the bad. But great explanation of everything before the detox plan, so good. I’ve always found myself to be backwards as the promise of rewards never motivates me at all. But if I can do the fun things first yes I can do the boring things after. First I have to get my low mood up, then I gain the will to live. I’m like those rats that need their food brought to them I think .

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