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I have recently stopped my old journal, because I feel that I have nothing more to add to this kind of format. Gathering knowledge within the topic of fitness, health, self improvement and addiction was always something that fascinated me. And now, especially during my journey and time here at gamequitters, this became more and more advanced. Now, I want to start a new topic, where I start collecting all kinds of ideas, which I think are valuable. The reason I want to share this, is that first, I like to right it down somewhere. But if I only do it for me, I feel that it is kinda lost in nowhere. Sharing it might be valuable for me to learn new perspectives and it might also help other people to gather new ideas. 

Edited by Alexanderle
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The truth about dopamine

Recently, I have checked the forum to see, how often people use the term dopamine. I found that it is used more than 500 times. Every single time, it is somehow used as an excuse. Like an external force that makes it impossible for us to resist certain temptations - may it be pornography, gaming, youtube or whatever. People call it the happiness neurotransmitter. I found this interesting and did a short research check. And I found a bunch of indications that what we believe today is not true. Here is the actual scientific consensus: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and involved in several pathways, starting from movement regulation to motivation to some degree. But the actual pleasure, we experience, has nothing to do with dopamine; this is caused by other things like opioids for instance. Dopamine, despite several functions will cause you to do a behavior again. But eventually, after doing a behavior consistently, there is not always a noticeable rise in dopamine levels. Animals, which have dopamine producing cells removed will still feel pleasure and enjoy things - they just won't pursue it, because the pleasure system is intact (https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/27/17169446/dopamine-pleasure-chemical-neuroscience-reward-motivation). This article explains the anhedonia hypothesis that people with depression show lower levels of dopamine. So overall, dopamine is involved in reinforcement, learning and motivation, but has nothing to do with pleasure.

More articles on that topic:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/feb/03/dopamine-the-unsexy-truth

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19073424

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-who-stray/201701/no-dopamine-is-not-addictive

 

Why is that relevant? Once again, someone starts to spread something in the internet and people start believing it and use it in there own argumentation. So therefore, people say stuff like: "I am addicted to gaming, because it triggers my dopamine levels." This is false. As a matter of fact, I think that it makes us more prone to look for external excuses: "It is not my fault that I am addicted, it is the dopamine and I am helpless." We should also get rid of the idea of dopamine fasting, because neuroscience is always more complicated than that. Instead, we are in charge. You are gaming, because you like it at that moment and have no better alternatives. As long, as there is nothing else to pursue, you will still go back to gaming. So therefore, just trying to stay away from gaming to magically cure yourself from dopaminergic effects is nonsense. The goal is to instead focus on meaningful activities.

Edited by Alexanderle
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WIthout knowing the science behind it, we sort of know our emotions and thoughts to an extent. Its a good thing because it allows us to differentiate between truth and fallacy. 

With habits I noticed the need for congruency- you have to battle for some time before the habit becomes a natural part of you. Sometimes a habit is broken: it feels mechanical and there is practically no mental involvement on your part.

I noticed that the habits you adopted became a natural part of you very quickly which means its the right approach.

example of an incongruent habit- a businessman that games during spare time.

congruent habit- a businessman that exercises and spends time with his family

 

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Hm, the need for congruency. That is an interesting one. There are several ideas regarding the idea of some congruency or higher meaning. I think, this can be related to the ideas of identity based habits and identity by James Clear, who is not a scientist according to my knowledge, but his ideas resonate with me. But even with this idea of congurency, with which I would agree with, the thing is just so much more than just some stimulus reaction thing like dopamine tanks inside of us. The whole is so much more important. So I would say that you are right. @Amphibian220

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