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This Weird Book Felt like It Destroyed My Need for Pleasure Forever

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Motivation

Life is full of p*rn.

P*rn used to be two people doing it on video while internet users watched them. But now everything from social media to Netflix to eating has become a form of naughty p*rn.

Unless you see the hidden forms of p*rn you’ll get f*cked by them.

Now, I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m a pleasure junkie. I’ve been stuck scrolling social media, eating junk food, letting bikini babes infect my Instagram feed, and chasing dopamine highs.

It’s been holding me back.

So, I recently read a book called “Dopamine Nation.” Since finishing the book it’s destroyed my addictive need for pleasure forever.

Here are the key ideas you can use.

Everything feels worse when you’re overdosing on dopamine

Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain as a form of reward.

It’s a natural part of our anatomy to automate motivation, help us breed, and get us to hunt and gather food. But dopamine has been hijacked and weaponized as a form of drug.

It’s used to motivate you to contribute to the incentives of others instead of your own. Everything from movies, to music, to TikTok, to applying for a job, to choosing who you bank with is now set up to exploit your fragile dopamine system. Sad.

The key problem I had before I read Dopamine Nation was everything started to feel a bit boring.

I have a one year old kid, a large social media audience, and run an online business. Life shouldn’t feel boring at all. But it did.

The book taught me that when we’re addicted and high on dopamine, it makes everything else feel worse.

The contrast between everyday life and the euphoria of watching a Mr Beast Youtube video makes our baseline experience of reality screwed up.

Our brains think everything needs to be as exciting as Mr Beast running a Squid Games contest and giving away $1M. Or the Bitcoin price increasing 200% in a month, as if it’s normal. But reality can never live up to these fake high standards. So we feel terrible.

Once you see the pleasure trap you can’t ignore it.

The whackiest story you’ll ever read (I promise)

In the book there’s a story about a strange man named Jacob.

As a kid he gets addicted to touching himself (don’t we all, guys). As an adult things progressed. He wanted bigger explosions. So he builds a ma$turbation machine.

He wrapped a coil and cloth around his slong, then attached it to a record player. This created an up and down motion. The record player had three different speeds. He could control the pleasure by adjusting the speed.

He later discovered smoking cigarettes while the ma$turbation machine did it’s job delayed the big explosion. The machine was so addictive he used it for several hours every day. He could stay pre-explosion for hours. Sometimes as much as 6 hours.

As the years went on things got worse.

The man discovered this taboo community where people attached wires to their private parts to give them an electrical shock. It’s extremely dangerous, but the s3xual stimulation is unmatched.

People get electrocuted and die all the time.

These sickos then join live chats and film each other electrocuting their genitals. People even pay to watch.

The point of this story is, what starts out as innocent pleasure can get way out of control if you don’t manage your dopamine.

We all have our version of a ma$turbation machine.

The distraction economy has changed reality forever

There’s a reason we seek dopamine…

We’re chasing a pain-free world. We’re distracting ourselves from ourselves so we don’t have to feel the pain of being human.

The pain of failure.
The pain of tragedy.
The pain of rejection.
The pain of break-ups.
The pain of being a leader.
The pain of career stagnation.
The pain of running your own business.

The medical profession has normalized taking pain away. They have a pill for every type of pain and you don’t even have to try hard to get them.

Removing pain is so accessible that it becomes an easy drug to get addicted to. And those who provide the pain relief make huge profits from your suffering.

It was easier to take a pill than feel the pain.

The pills we take that are full of digestible poisons become vitamins — not their intended purpose.

This need to escape pain comes from school and parenting.

We’re taught that failure is bad, that we should choose proven paths and take zero risks. So when life gets inevitably hard, we can’t handle it, and so we turn to pain relief and pleasure fuelled by dopamine to recover.

The downsides of chasing dopamine

What shocked me in the book was the author described dopamine addiction as a drug that’s similar to cocaine … and potentially worse.

It even makes permanent changes to our brains.

This topic is no joke. Chasing dopamine always leads to big problems later. They show up in relationships, careers, health, and even finances.

When we chase dopamine our perception of time changes too. We start to waste so much time chasing dopamine that we seem to be busier than normal. You see this with dopamine-addicted gamers.

They spend so many hours playing games like Fortnite that they can easily spend 12 hours a day in front of the computer playing and not realize.

What’s worse is it feels normal.

That happens because the game feels like it’s part of their survival and identity. They’re deluded into believing they’ll get famous or maybe win some lottery-like reward if they keep playing. So they do.

The book also taught me that flow states are addictive because they, too, deliver huge spikes in dopamine.

We are drowning in dopamine — Anna Lembke

The crucial pain-pleasure balance

The brain has a pain-pleasure balance (think of it as a seesaw). We need both to survive.

When you overdose on pleasure you increase the pain you feel. So you chase more pleasure to fix it and that gives you more pain. Ouch.

What goes up must come down.

The dopamine phenomenon is a paradox. When we pursue pleasure for the hell of it, what we get is a lack of pleasure from life experiences. We become unable to feel pleasure. Here’s a simpler way from the book to think about it:

The relentless pursuit of pleasure (and avoidance of pain) leads to pain.

Now you know why so many people are hurting & some are bleeding out.

The simple strategy to destroy your hidden pleasure addiction

There’s a solution. Hallelujah.

If you’re overdosing on pleasure you can fix it by adding more pain. It’s why people take cold showers or jump in ice baths. The pain of the act helps to reset their dopamine levels.

You can go too far, though, which is why balance is key.

If you chase too much pain you end up becoming one of those athletes who runs marathons until their feet bleed.

Pain is addictive too.

There’s one other way to recover from dopamine addiction. You can stay away from addictive dopamine sources for a while. Some call it a dopamine fast.

  • If you’re addicted to social media you can take a month off.
  • If your phone is addictive you can switch to a dumb phone.
  • If you’re addicted to Netflix TV shows you can not watch them for two weeks.

As you reduce exposure to addictive dopamine sources, your brain resets and rewires, and pleasure from simple things in life returns.

This is the journey I’m now on. You might want to try it too.

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