Table of Contents
Understanding the Chemicals Behind Pleasure and Happiness
The Difference Between Dopamine and Serotonin
The brain chemical dopamine, known for its association with reward and motivation, is fundamentally different from serotonin, which is linked to contentment and true happiness. While you may experience pleasure and reward through apps and purchases, true contentment cannot be obtained through these means. Although the disparity between the terms “happiness” and “pleasure” may seem subtle, the chemical difference between them is significant. It is these chemicals that contribute to the addictive nature of our phones.
Investigating the Influence of Addictive Apps
This article is part of Business Insider’s “Your Brain on Apps” series, which delves into how addictive apps can shape our behavior.
The Illusion of Money and Happiness
People often try to convince us that money can buy immense happiness, whether it’s through purchasing a luxurious car, an extravagant phone, or a bigger home. However, our brains recognize the fallacy in this notion. While money can provide temporary pleasure, true happiness originates from other sources.
Understanding the Confusion between Happiness and Pleasure
Confusion between happiness and pleasure is common, given the conditioning we have received. Society ties happiness to material possessions, indulging in cravings, and following the latest trends. Even dictionaries and search engines can become perplexed, as they often define pleasure as “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.”
Distinguishing Pleasure from Happiness
Scientists who study hormones assert that our brains can differentiate between momentary pleasure and the enduring contentment that defines true happiness. This distinction is significant. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist and author of “The Hacking of the American Mind: The science behind the corporate takeover of our bodies and brains,” warns against misconstruing pleasure as happiness. Lustig, renowned for his research on the effects of refined sugar on children, is now concerned about how technology, with its near-addictive qualities, impacts our brains. While not equivalent to drugs, technology stimulates dopamine, leading to potential addiction.
Technology’s Impact on Our Brains
Lustig compares technology to a dopamine stimulator, as anything elevating dopamine levels ultimately fosters addiction. Although technology does not generate the same visceral withdrawal symptoms as alcohol or drugs, it instills a distinct dependence, unlike the contentment and peace associated with happiness.
The Role of Dopamine and Serotonin in Our Brains
Dopamine and serotonin affect different areas of our brains. Serotonin, closely related to happiness, helps diminish anxiety and counteract depression. In fact, many antidepressant drugs contain serotonin. By contrast, dopamine operates through only five brain receptors, fueling desires and motivation. While dopamine regulates various brain functions such as rewards, motivation, and pleasure, it cannot provide genuine happiness or contentment – the feeling of having enough and being enough.
The Craving Cycle Induced by Our Phones
Our phones are designed to leave us perpetually yearning for more. They are not inherently malevolent, but their addictive characteristics necessitate awareness.
The Remedy: Disconnect and Connect
The sole antidote lies in putting away our phones, minimizing the alerts they bombard us with, and prioritizing genuine human connection over incessant screen time.
Image Source: Business Insider
Remember, true happiness is not something we can find within apps or material possessions. It resides in the connections we foster and the moments we share with others. So, take a break from your phone and nurture your own well-being.
To learn more about the science behind happiness and other intriguing topics, visit 5 WS.