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Damn you, Dopamine!

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Have you ever felt the urge to check your notifications? To answer a message or check if there’s anything new online? Even if there’s something new, or you knew it before, daily notifications are dopamine stimulants.


But what is dopamine?


In a few words, dopamine is a chemical substance produced by our brain, that plays an important role in our motivation.


It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behaviours and motivates us to repeat them*.


When we get new likes, messages, and other notifications, we enjoy small bites of dopamine.

Our brain remembers these moments and looks forward to experiencing them again.


This is also the reason why you sometimes open your phone, even if there’s no intention to do something concrete. You try unconsciously to get this feeling again.


There are many examples: when you post a photo on social media and you check from 5 to 5 mins to see who likes your photo…or when you’re at the office and you just can’t disconnect during your lunch break because you stare at your phone to check if you receive any new email.


Mindful use of technology is the best tool you have to control this unconscious behaviour. So the next time you pick up your phone to check Facebook you might ask yourself, “Is this worth my time?”


How about you? When have you experienced moments like these?


* Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time | Trevor Haynes

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