LIVING LIFE AS A RAT PRESSING THE DOPAMINE LEVER
WASTING OUR LIVES - A HUGE PITY!
TBA, beginning draft
The chemical called dopamine is a pleasing, pleasure chemical, so we naturally seek it. It evolved to get us to do things that are survival enhancing.
However, we can get stuck on the short term good feeling, as with any addiction.
When rats were wired to receive a stimulus to the brain to emit dopamine every time they pressed a level, they were so addicted to it that they kept pressing the lever to get the "hits" of dopamine - and they starved to death, because food was of a lower priority to the "hit".
As intelligent beings, we "should" know that survival and long term happiness are our real goals and that they are of a higher value. However, when we lose our perspective or are unable to engage our brains adequately, we can act like the rat, going for the short term.
Although, of course, I am concerned with the big addictions, I am, in this piece, expressing my concern for the insidious, non-perceived addictive behavior that has us pressing the lever in lieu of really living life. It is a living enactment of the classic story of The Gradually Boiling Frog, except it is our lives that are being killed.
To get a little dopamine and a little relief (which also stimulates dopamine), we press the following levers, often going into an addictive stupor where the effects have been measured as "low level depression." Yes, we are a bit depressed, but getting a few jolts that keep us from "flatlining". ("Flatlining" is when our heart monitors no longer reflect a heart beat, so we need to apply the electrical paddles to stimulate our hearts to re-up.)
Watching TV (past perhaps one hour of interesting stuff, though truly interesting stuff is rare)
Smoking (get dopamine "hits", destroys some dopamine receptors so less able to experience joy or pleasure)
This is a life of living the irrelevant, living that which has litte relevance to your happiness and effectiveness in life.
Another version of this is where we get so stuck in getting our little jolts that we fail to expand our lives, so we just get to experience the same old stressed out or blotto lives and exist in a kind of treadmill live of living the same old day over and over and over: Groundhog day