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Dopamine Dessert: The Cure for Distraction

habits screens stress Mar 06, 2024


Everyone's down on dopamine these days.

It's been called "the molecule of more," that titillating neurotransmitter of pleasure that keeps us coming back to our smartphone again and again like a gambling addict pulling the lever of the slot machine.

And it's true. Dopamine is to digital consumption as sugar is to the food we eat.

Have too much of it and, well, you might not feel so great. 

So how can we cure our dopamine crazed minds?

One answer is to wage an all out war against this molecule of pleasure. This is the strategy of screen time restrictions, self-binding techniques like locking your phone up in a kSafe, or "dopamine fasting" for days on end (all of which we've tried).

But there's also a second, less restrictive, more pleasurable, alternative.

We call it dopamine dessert.

The basic idea is that something magical happens when we view the seductive mind snacks of the virtual world the way we view that pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey in the real world.

Most of us, after all, don't spend all day, every day, gorging on Twinkies, cream puffs, vanilla-sprinkle doughnuts, and cupcakes. No, we try to reserve these treats for occasional consumption. We even have a name for it: dessert.

Dopamine dessert applies this age-old ritual to that glowing glass rectangle you can't seem to stop staring into.

It's a time each day dedicated to digital indulgence, to gorging on an all-you-can-eat buffet of Instagram, TikTok videos, news, and whatever else lights up the reward center of your brain.

How can you use dopamine dessert to overcome distraction?




1. Schedule it.

Here comes our most mind-bending recommendation: schedule time in your calendar each day for digital distraction.

We realize how bizarre this may sound. But here's the thing. When you schedule dopamine dessert (at lunch or the end of the workday), you concentrate these quick hits of digital pleasure into a small sliver of your day.

When you don't schedule dopamine dessert, the opposite happens. These digital pleasure hits may begin to consume you.


2. Eat your meal.

Now that you have a dedicated time for dopamine dessert, you can relax and focus on the meal of life: your work, your family, and maybe even this moment. 

You now know that you're not going to miss the latest polling results, updates on the stock market, or today's Taylor and Travis dating gossip.

Why? Because you've got dopamine dessert coming up.

Just knowing this goes a long way toward destroying the false sense of digital FOMO that keeps you tethered to your phone.


3. Savor your dessert.

Why wait all day for dopamine dessert? 

Because something spectacular happens when you do. The pleasure you experience when scanning a fresh feed on social or a brand new lineup of news articles can become almost ecstatic.

You've worked for it. You've waited for it. You've earned it.

And now you get to gobble it down, guilt free. 

In this strange way, dopamine dessert gives you something no other form of distraction can. It actually satiates your desire for novelty. It's actually fulfilling (or, at least, as fulfilling as it can be to watch cats dancing around in tiny hats). 

And that makes it so you don't have to keep coming back quite so often to that 24/7 casino of pleasure you carry around with you everywhere you go.

Because now, you've got something better.

You've got dopamine dessert.

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