What is the purpose of life Mike?
To Be Happy
As humans we have this drive to be happy that seems so in grained into us, that over our history we have filled the reason with religion, state, faith and voodoo. However mother nature decided to add this amazing life purpose we can thank evolution for all those happy chemicals that make you want to do things, enjoy doing them and enjoy the after effects. This could be eating, sleeping, making a million dollars or saving a child’s life.
In this post, I want to focus on what makes us happy, how we are leveraging these chemicals in today’s world and what effects these are happening on our surroundings long term.
I am going to be using dopamine in a negative way throughout this post but I want to say that I don’t dislike the chemical! it is amazing and is responsible for getting us to where we are today. So what is it?
Dopamine is an organic reward chemical in our brain that makes us happy when we seek and push for a goal. The larger the goal…. the larger the hit.
Imagine its original intent, if humans realized that it was going to be a lot of work to hunt that deer they may not actually go hunting and thus they will die. There needs be a driver other then starvation (by that time its too late) to push the humans into planning, hunting and eating that deer for survival and mother nature loves using less resources and thus we are hit will bigger doses when we innovate. This evolved a great goal orientation reward system where we can leverage this to go to the gym, drive our business into the future and find the love of our life. Our own individual capitalist thoughts are driven through our reward receptors of dopamine.
When do we receive dopamine now? we have been pushing for a dopamine-fueled environment few hundred years through alcohol, smoking, gambling and many in fad addictions of the time. Most drugs that we classify as a problem in society (irrelevant if you believe they should be legal) are a dopamine addiction and has increased our tolerance to a point where we need such a large hit to “feel” anything that we should be setting some amazing goals and reaching new heights! However due to the easy access to these chemicals we are ceasing to associate effort with dopamine and this is what worries me the most.
When we compete in the tribal hierarchy by getting the most likes on Facebook or constantly reading our emails/messages/tweets/snaps instead of something tangible, when the new norm of what classifies a leader in society is linked to dopamine instead what is good for the wider group. We run the risk of being momentarily happy without achieving anything of substance and when we realize this we look to our leaders who empowered us and we do not find closure; we find anti-depressants. Leaders in our human hierarchy are meant to be LEADERS, we give them power to show us the way and when they fail we expect them to sacrifice themselves and make way for the next leader. Do we feel our celebs will fall on the sword for their people?
Dopamine reminds me of business plans from the 1980s, where short-term profit was put above the long-term health of the organisation. Setting goals and working hard to achieve something is fantastic and utilising dopamine for these reasons will lead to self-development beyond anything else, but easy access to this chemical through validation and drugs merely looks to disassociate hard work with goals and its the hard work that mother nature wanted us to connect with.
See it and get it generation
Generation Y is soon to take over from our generation X parents who were corrupted by the most self-serving generation before them (the baby boomers) and it’s not looking great. A number of gen y people who tell me “this isn’t’ my career, this is just a job” as in they are better then what they are doing? They seek to do something that makes others validate them instead of pushing for themselves, for their own intrinsic passions!
Positive affirmation from social media is a larger problem then drugs of the past. The social norm (pop culture) is replacing real trusting relationships with virtual people as a coping mechanism and these people do not even know us! we constantly update our spelling and grammar, our images or just who we WANT others to think we are just so we can feel validated and climb this self-serving dopamine fueled virtual hierarchy of likes and what is worse? Everyone knows its fake! The term trolling has become a norm for what we assume everyone is doing if they don’t appear to fit inside the box we have for someone.
Although their intentions are good the Gen Ys struggle to focus on a goal long enough, driven by the highs and looking to make an impact on the world without wanting to put the effort into actually achieving it. They look at the goal at the top of the mountain and want to feel the reward without considering the journey up there. So they realize from a very early age that it is easier to find those that will validate you and run with that. We know that kids who have problems in school and find alcohol will struggle throughout their life with an alcohol addiction as that neural pathway has been set and yet we feel that kids who find coping mechanism online are totally fine. Anyone notice the trend in school shootings with individuals who have obviously been bullied or cast out from their social circle?
In mammals, we are programmed to push the individuals who are weak out of the circle of trust to be eaten by the lions. Without a healthy coping mechanism, are we surprised they act out and remove others circles of safety with violence?
Can you blame us? we grew up in an environment of distrust, competition and easy access to the worlds information. We believe we can do anything we set our mind to but we lack as a generation the connection to realize it takes action and hard work and better yet the worlds resources have been hoarded by those of the past. In school I remember a constant stream of extrinsic motivation tools (stickers, pocket money, grades or how about which school we get into was set on a competition). I remember at 15 I tutored multiple other students on what I was good at to ensure we all did well, the validation in this action was far more rewarding to me and them and yet society doesn’t reward those that work as a team… because that doesn’t allow us to promote the individual and isolate the weak.
Generation Y know what to do and will do lots of short bursts but won’t take the journey, we will share, click and donate but we are waiting for the next dopamine hit (speaking of which when is our next Facebook profile filter coming?) Abstraction has replaced action with symbolic gestures to “Raise awareness”. We are failing to realise that talk doesn’t fix anything. The only action will see problems in this world solved and that requires effort and effort isn’t what we are growing up to correlate with dopamine.
It’s the socialist chemical.
When released it makes us happy and the more it’s released the happier we become and the more we want it to be released, it’s programmed for humans long term survival. At some point, mother nature realised we need to work together to survive. If you and your tribe went out to hunt and only you were successful and then you say to you tribal members it’s their fault for not working hard enough…..it wouldn’t make you the most liked person and as a group, you would die off.
The larger Oxycontin concentration in a human has led to a longer lifespan, less stress and subjectively happier lives. For men who have more of this chemical, women find them more appealing for many more years. Thus they produce more social creatures who produce more and more. They are leaders in a society that are set to drive the greater good objectively.
What I like about this chemical the most is that it is free without effort. If someone tripped over and u helped them up, you and the person you helped would receive a burst of Oxycontin and better yet so would everyone else who saw. It builds a society of individuals looking out for others as they realise that as a tribe, those that survive are the ones that work together for the greater good.
Touch is how we start this chemical. Children not held by their mothers enough as a child don’t get enough and get addicted to dopamine chemical (Facebook, drugs and short term thinking) and have problems building relationships later in life. This is the reason why we still shake hands before a meeting, why peace negotiations happen in person and why its great to know something similar about others before starting a negotiation. Humans want and respond very well to treating others well and better yet when we live in a world of Oxycontin we find it harder to be addicted to dopamine. Studies have even shown that it is harder to become an addict if someone has a strong circle of safety (i.e Family and Friends).
We get this drug when we do or see someone helping another human. It’s what makes us give to the homeless guy or say thank you or smile. It’s the direct result of how not shaking someone’s hand can destroy a business deal or why world leaders don’t touch dictator
So remember when you do something nice. It is for a net benefit and why when you force me to pay tax I don’t get the same drug as if I was donating and you don’t get the drug by receiving it
Generation Y have been fighting over resources that are in apparently limited supply, we have grown up in abundance in comparison to the past but we lack one simple goal. The goal of doing what is better for those in your tribe as you know it is better for you as well. It’s led us to a Dopamine-fueled environment where we all race to help ourselves without any effort, we look to validate those and promote celebs and CEOS who are also self-driven and not those that will sacrifice themselves for the greater good.
Does our generation have what it takes to start linking Dopamine to effort? If we make this simple change…. that we validate others based on success and impact on society then those with the most resources will do more for others and more for society instead of glamorising a new lipstick or self-serving product. My prediction, Mikes Law would be that if we lessen our time to Social Media and support those that are achieving something tangible then this would lead to a growth in supporting those that will intrinsically want to do the greater good.
If you think this is not possible, then you are not the right Leader for the job.