Achieving Personal Growth and Happiness in the Digital Age

Feranmi Olaseinde

Hatched by Feranmi Olaseinde

Feb 29, 2024

4 min read


Achieving Personal Growth and Happiness in the Digital Age

In today's rapidly advancing world, people in high-income countries have found themselves becoming less satisfied with their lives over the past decade. Paradoxically, this dissatisfaction arises despite living in what many consider to be Humanity's Golden Age. It appears that the overabundance of choices and constant stimuli have led to a state of addiction, where we have become reliant on the feel-good drug that our brain naturally releases - dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released in our brain whenever we anticipate a reward. It is responsible for our experience of motivation, pleasure, and reward. However, the delicate balance between pleasure and pain is more like a seesaw than a line. Our brain constantly works to maintain a state of equilibrium called homeostasis, where pleasure and pain are in balance.

Let's say you're scrolling through social media and come across a cute cat video on your feed. Your brain recognizes it as a pleasurable experience and releases dopamine, tilting the seesaw towards pleasure. However, to restore homeostasis, your brain immediately tilts the seesaw back in equal measure towards pain. This leads to feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and unhappiness.

Instead of allowing ourselves to sit with these emotions until the balance is restored, we often seek out more pleasurable experiences to get another dose of dopamine. This is where dopamine becomes a double-edged sword. Similar to any drug, the more dopamine our brain releases, the less effective it becomes, and the stronger our craving for it becomes.

To counteract this cycle, it is recommended that we limit our time on social media and instead use our devices for activities that offer incredible long-term benefits. Today, we have endless ways of getting quick fixes of pleasure, whether it's through sugar and junk food, social media, or pornography. However, the response in our brain is always the same - a dopamine hit followed by a balancing dose of pain.

It is important to ask ourselves whether our behaviors align with the person we wish to become. Understanding the habits that hinder our personal growth allows us to work towards changing them. There are three approaches to changing our habits: outcome change, process change, and identity change.

Outcome change is what most of us do when we set New Year's resolutions. However, taking small steps towards our goals is much more manageable and effective. James Clear suggests the "two-minute rule," which involves breaking down new habits into two-minute pieces. By starting with a small, achievable task, we trick our brain into initiating the process, making it easier to continue and ultimately finish.

Creating intentional obstacles can also help in breaking bad habits. For example, leaving our phones in another room when we go to bed can make it harder to give in to the old habit of scrolling through social media upon waking up. These intentional actions make it more difficult to engage in ineffective habits.

In addition to changing our habits, we also need to ensure that our digital interactions are satisfying. The reason we often fail to adopt new habits is because they do not provide the same level of instant gratification as our old habits. Therefore, finding ways to make new habits enjoyable is crucial.

In conclusion, achieving personal growth and happiness in the digital age requires us to understand the impact of dopamine and the seesaw between pleasure and pain. By consciously choosing habits that align with our desired identity, breaking them down into manageable steps, and creating intentional obstacles, we can overcome the addictive nature of instant gratification and work towards long-term fulfillment.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Limit your time on social media and other sources of instant gratification. Instead, focus on activities that offer long-term benefits and personal growth.
  • 2. Break down new habits into small, achievable tasks using the "two-minute rule." This makes it easier to start and continue the habit.
  • 3. Create intentional obstacles to break bad habits. Make it harder to engage in ineffective behaviors by introducing barriers that discourage their occurrence.

By implementing these actionable steps, you can navigate the digital age more mindfully and find greater satisfaction and fulfillment in your life.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)