How to be optimized in life using Dopamine Fasting

As promised in my previous post, I am back with a new one.

Dopamine is one of the brain’s neurotransmitters- A chemical which ferries information between neurons. Dopamine helps to regulate movement, attention, learning and emotional responses.

It also enables us not to see rewards but to take action to move toward them. Since dopamine contributes to the feeling of pleasures and satisfaction as part of the reward system, the neurotransmitter also plays a part in addiction.

Role of Dopamine in our daily life

The activity of the dopamine system depends on the state of one’s dopamine receptors, for instance- and in people with conditions, the chemical interacts with other factors in ways that have yet to be explained.

People with low dopamine may also be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is associated with sensation-seeking, more commonly known as risk-taking.

With entertainment and distractions literally at our fingertips, we are spending more and more time on social media, watching Netflix and playing video games. Whenever we feel bored for a minute, we grab our smartphone and distract ourselves or what about grabbing a high-fat or nice sugary snack to fill the gap of boredom?

Every time you scroll through Instagram, watch something on YouTube or Netflix, receive likes on your Facebook post, play some Call of Duty, masturbate to porn or take a bite of a juicy hamburger, your brain produces a strong hit of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Essentially, your brain feels really good for dopamine and is addicted to it. Therefore your brain will try to stimulate the repetition of the behaviour that produced the dopamine in the first place. And that’s where things go wrong for us nowadays.

In other words, you scroll through Instagram once and your brain produces dopamine. Before you know it, your brain is signalling you to go back to Instagram because it knows it will get a new hit of dopamine again.

All of a sudden you find yourself fighting an uphill battle against your brain and that’s not an easy fight. The problem is that a lot of the things that we consider normal in our daily life are not normal at all.

It’s normal simply because we have developed a mild (and sometimes strong) addiction for some things on a large, global scale. Yet, these things are usually the obstacles that prevent you from focusing on the main goals in life. They distract from going deep work, your mind is being occupied so that you don’t have to think about what’s wrong in your life.

You are pushed towards procrastinating behaviour instead of sitting down and doing the work you need to do. All in all, it can have a huge impact on the way you think and behave. And that’s why have decided to write about 24-Hour Dopamine Fast.

How to live an optimized life using dopamine?

For 24 hours, follow these rules strictly:

  • No usage of electronic gadgets (no phone, laptop, Netflix or video games etc.)
  • Not reading of books or magazine.
  • No sex or masturbation.
  • No talking.
  • No food.
  • No music or podcasts.
  • No coffee or other stimulants.

The things allowed to do are:

  • Write (with pen and paper.)
  • Meditate.
  • Go for walks.
  • Do deep thinking.
  • Visualize.
  • Drink water.

These may seem like strict rules to follow but many have admitted to feeling like a monk while doing this dopamine fast. Just keep in mind that it’s only 24 hours of your entire life. If you can’t follow these rules for only 24 hours, you can conclude yourself of having serious dopamine addiction and all other stimulants for daily life. Even though this is our standard nowadays, it’s unhealthy.

Why do this Dopamine Fasting?

We are overstimulated with an impulse from every direction and overloaded with information everywhere we go. The benchmark of what is fun and entertaining keeps shifting upwards, as we’re quickly bored by the things that don’t stimulate us enough anymore.

Our ability to focus and pay attention is decreasing faster and faster. Most of us can read a book for 30 minutes without feeling the need to check the social or do something that gives us more dopamine hits. This is a real and serious issue.

So many people around us talk about getting overwhelmed; stressed or struck they are in life. But what do they do? We still numb their minds by watching another episode of Game of Thrones or Narcos.

People don’t give their mind the necessary space, time and stimulant-free environment to come up with the insights and solutions for their problems.

They continue to drown in the sea of information, distractions and entertainment, while the real problems remain unsolved. And I won’t be blaming them (only a little bit), because most of the modern-day distractions are designed in a way to keep us all addicted (refer the book ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal).

That’s why dopamine fasting would be like a mental ‘reset button’ and be without external stimuli for a full day. Can someone go crazy? Can someone gain some new insights? Could anyone get bored? Could anyone get a breakthrough?

Here’s what is supposed to happen

The dopamine fast would be a fascinating experience. It wouldn’t be as hard as anyone would have thought. One can gain many valuable benefits from it that will likely make you do it once in six months or so.

The mind will be silent, yet highly focused

The mind will be highly focused and still. It’s amazing to witness how our mind and thought are essentially being polluted by all the external stimuli that hit us throughout the day. With a couple of meditation sessions, you will feel how calm the mind is. While meditating during normal days, thoughts would jump from one to another.

But this time it won’t happen. From the second round of meditation, the mind will be completely silent. During the day, you can direct the thoughts very consciously towards one topic that you have chosen. You will have full mental resources to think about this one topic and that will lead to great insights.

In upcoming post I will write about personal experience while doing Dopamine Fast

Let me know if you plan on doing dopamine fast yourself and if you already did it, let me know how it went in the comments.

Stay tuned for my experience in the upcoming post.

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