I am an addict
For me, it’s sugar, first of all. The most powerful drug on Earth according to some. Then, I love chocolate. Drinks on weekends. Too much YouTube. Shopping for super second-hand bargains. Doom scrolling on some days. Kitty and bird videos on other days — (sometimes the same day)- and craving a message notification depending upon whether it’s personal, or business-related.
You are an addict
Most of us begin the day with either coffee or tea. Or, perhaps we muddle through the morning without caffeine and just chug down some more coffee, or soft drinks throughout the day.
Dopamine makes all of us addicts.
Many of us are addicted to social media. Or we are addicted to gaming, porn, trash television, too much yakking on devices, or not noticing that the world is going to hell in an Amazon basket.
That, is we shop too much, even feeling surprisingly unashamed about our “retail therapy.”
We all have to stop.
We have to take some time away from our addictions.
We have to begin to notice when we hear the siren song of a ding, click, tone, or when we automatically crave a cheeseburger or sugary drink.
These are things that are very seriously impacting the wider world.
Ads are written to grab your attention, but also to rake in your savings. Even those of us who believe we are immune to ads are ultimately influenced by them to buy more.
The natural world of just fifty years ago is gone forever
As we lose the external reality that our parents and grandparents knew, we lose something we can not know we have lost.
Extinctions and lost wilderness are just two ways we have lost our former world. There is also light pollution , no privacy, sound and noise pollution, and a disturbing sense of unease that comes with our climate and conflict woes.
From the way Big Food and Big Tech giants hook us to the oil and gas that moves these things in and out of our neural synapses and awareness, it is very imperative that we begin to see what we are doing.
Another problem in our human psychology that has changed is our decreased attention span.
We cannot be the human beings we were in the past — reflective, thoughtful, creative, and learning well — if we do not carve out quiet time to just experience nature as it unfolds around us.
There are ways to know if you are awake and alert.
Open your senses.
Do you remember your last meal? Did you taste the food? What about the last time you heard the wind, or a river? Do you feel what sensations your body is telling you, especially about your posture, or tension in muscles, or are you distracted?
What about solitude, do you find enough time to see, feel, smell, and immerse yourself in sensations and your own thoughts and daydreams? If not, you are cheating yourself and the world.
There is a large difference between loneliness and being in solitude. There is a big difference too, in fear of missing out, FOMO, and being drawn into hours of your life that have no real value but do have real costs.
Think about all the other creatures and plants in the world, is your awareness making you grateful for them, or do you take them for granted as if they are machines for human use?
Just a few exercises in appreciation can make you feel more alive, more attuned, and more immersed in fighting all of your many addictions.
Seek meaning, not just pleasure
We do need pleasure.
But we begin to dislike ourselves and others when it is all we can think about. When we feel compelled, it is a big hint to our brain that we need to look more deeply into non-addictive pastimes, foods, and drugs.
There is an immense difference between pleasure, such as is sought by our brains with dopamine, and satisfaction, which gives people a sense of being in control of their lives.
Seek a bit more of oxytocin, serotonin, and other connecting and trust-creating hormones, and you will find less of a craving for just the “doping” we all get from dopamine alone.
Satisfaction also provides meaning and purpose. A sense of being a better person is only received by allowing ourselves permission to feel we are doing our best for the greater and more meaningful world of biology, life, diversity, and humanity.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash