Biggie and Dopamine

A recent post by a friend of mine plus a few other things inspired this post. Theirs explained Biggie’s (yes, the rapper’s) idea that when he was poor, he drank, smoked and wrote songs and now that he was rich, he drank, smoked and wrote songs. Most of the things he actually spent his time doing in life were very similar from when he was poor to when he was rich. My friend says you have to enjoy the process.

Put another way I say to myself once in a while; happiness is in the doing, not the done.

But I’d like to take this in a different direction, more towards the scientific realm. Some new neuroscience is proving that, for humans, happiness may truly be in the doing. This is based on how our dopamine levels react to certain stimuli.

A recent study took participants through work sessions that eventually led to a goal. And through these sessions, they measure the participant’s level of dopamine in the brain. Now, take a moment, what do you think will happen to the level of dopamine as the person begins the task, moves along towards the completion of the task and then actually completes the task?

Most people would expect that it would make evolutionary sense for the dopamine levels to peak as the goal of the task is completed. But, surprisingly, this is not what happens!! The peak dopamine levels occur BEFORE the participant finishes the goal.

This has major implications for life in general. It means that we are chemically hardwired to feel true satisfaction not from the completion of  a task, but from properly doing the task such that we eventually complete it.
So that means that to find happiness, we must find tasks that a) we enjoy doing and b) that we are good at such that we can complete them.

Once again, the sages of old, namely Biggie, and science have come together to provide us with wonderful tidbits of life-improving knowledge.

My buddies blog is pretty hilarious FYI, check it out! thewellsstreetjournal.tumblr.com/

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