Mindfulness and the “Molecule of More,” Dopamine!
Welcome to the latest edition of my Frogman Mindfulness newsletter/blog! This time, we’re steering into the realm of neurochemistry, specifically focusing on dopamine, a molecule often synonymous with pleasure and reward. Our understanding is enriched by the insights from a recent interview with Michael E. Long, co-author of the compelling book, “The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity–and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race.”
The Dopamine Dynamic
Dopamine is the brain’s “desire” neurotransmitter, prompting us to want, seek out, and search. It’s behind those moments of inspiration, the drive for novelty, and the push for progress. Yet, as Long illustrates, it’s not the molecule of pleasure. Once we achieve what dopamine drives us towards, its job is done. Satisfaction, enjoyment, and contentment come from other neurotransmitters.
Mindfulness: Balancing Our Brain’s Chemicals
Mindfulness can play an instrumental role in balancing the dopamine-driven pursuit of future rewards with being present and enjoying what we have now. By grounding ourselves in the moment, we can appreciate the here and now, alleviating the constant yearning that dopamine induces.
Key Takeaways from Our Chat with Michael E. Long:
1. Dopamine vs. Here-and-Now: Dopamine drives us to focus on the future, while other neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and endorphins help us appreciate the present.
2. The Dopamine Paradox: While it drives motivation, ambition, and desire, an overabundance can lead to dissatisfaction, as we’re always seeking more and rarely savoring the current moment.
3. Mindfulness as a Moderator: Regular mindfulness practices can help moderate the effects of dopamine, enabling us to strike a balance between seeking new experiences and cherishing the present.
To ensure a balanced approach to life, infuse moments of mindfulness throughout your day:
– Mindful Morning Routine: Begin your day grounded. Instead of jumping straight into tasks, take a few moments to breathe and set an intention for the day.
– Mindful Breaks: Every few hours, take a 5-minute break to just breathe or take a short walk, bringing your attention to your senses.
– Gratitude Practices: Before bed, list three things you’re grateful for. This simple act can help shift focus from what we desire to what we already have and cherish.
A Call to Dive Deeper
If this topic resonates with you, I urge you to listen to our full conversation with Michael E. Long on the “Men Talking Mindfulness” podcast (on YouTube now and on Podcast Monday) or read “The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity–and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race.” His insights provide a profound understanding of how our brain operates and how mindfulness can act as a compass in navigating the waves of dopamine.
Thank you for joining me on this journey of understanding. Mindfulness continues to unveil layers of knowledge, grounding us and showing us the way to a balanced life. Let’s harness its potential together.
PS: If you’ve enjoyed this edition, please share it with friends and family. Spreading knowledge is an act of care. Until next time, stay mindful!
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