Burak Kantarci

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Dopamine Nation

Ever found yourself caught in a rollercoaster of emotions? Remember when something started off feeling fantastic, only to take an unexpected turn into disappointment or discomfort, eventually leading to happiness?

If your answer is yes, let me introduce you to the realm of dopamine! In "Dopamine Nation," you will find a friendly and enlightening journey through the impacts of this neurotransmitter. You will discover how dopamine paints the colorful landscapes of our minds, influencing our thoughts, and feelings, and on the other hand how important to keep the balance.

Anna Lembke is an American psychiatrist who is the Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic at Stanford University. This book consists of the highlights and examples of her career with her patients. What she learned from her patients about pain/pleasure balance is presented to us in this book.

To summary: as cliche suggests "no pain no gain". The gain represents pleasure. The more we face our pains the more pleasure we feel, and also the more we feel pleasure the more pain we get. It is a matter of keeping the balance, and dopamine is the chief balance officer of this company.

However, nowadays our daily activities are mostly suited for instant dopamine peaks that's why we refuse to face the pain. There will be a dopamine hit by Instagram likes, and a short funny TikTok or a newly bought Nike Air Jordans but we forget to face the reason why our friendships and connections loosen.

“In today’s dopamine-rich ecosystem, we’ve all become primed for immediate gratification. We want to buy something, and the next day it shows up on our doorstep”
VideoI also recommend you to watch Controlling Your Dopamine For Motivation, Focus & Satisfaction by Andrew Huberman alongside with the book.
This is not an endorsement for Huberman. I'm unfamiliar with his other perspectives.

Dr. Lembke mentions that we are running away from pain and raising kids who suffer as little as possible. I believe we become more vulnerable to problems such as depression and anxiety. She quotes from Neil Postman, the author of the Amusing Ourselves to Death:

“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities, and commercials.”

In the book, you’ll find solid examples and tactics of how to keep control of your dopamine level and the things you should avoid. If you are more curious about why this balance is needed, I strongly recommend reading the book.

To my beautiful wife: Feb 2024