Today’s society is very pleasure focused. Pleasure is an emotion of enjoying for you and your own feelings. It can be a great feeling on a positive side but also very short lived and can in some people lead to addictive tendencies.
You might find pleasure from a flower in bloom or a smile from a neighbour, which is lovely. You can get pleasure from sex or a kiss. Then there are things like sugar, social media, alcohol and gambling, for examples. Any immediate gratification is dopamine driven and these are classic examples of this.
Social media and computer games, have been found in studies, to stimulate dopamine pathways in the brain. For boys this is more video game addiction and for girls it is social media. In the worst scenario this can lead to electronic screen syndrome. I recently wrote an article on electronic screen syndrome and this is just one way too much of a good thing can go wrong.
Pleasures like sugar, social media , alcohol , gambling and even sex for some can lead to addiction and sadly the more instant pleasure you get, the more tolerant you get, hence the more instant pleasure you need, to get the same desired feeling. “That feels good and I want more” – this is a classic start of addictive tendencies.
Pleasure is an emotion that represents mostly short-lived gratification. Pleasure stimulates a hedonic (reward) feeling. Too much can increase the fight, flight response, anxiety, and increased heart rate. It is important to be aware of your pleasure patterns and watching for warning signs in family members.
The neurotransmitter related to pleasure is dopamine therefore if you have a genetic disposition (COMT AA) to higher dopamine it is wise for you be careful of dopamine substances and activities. Be aware of pleasurable activities or substances that can lead to anxiety and or addiction. What activities make you feel agitated when you stop?
On the flip side, a person with a lower dopamine can benefit from increasing pleasures in their life. A person with low dopamine is usually flat and unmotivated in life. These people can find it hard to really enjoy life. There are remedies that help lift dopamine in a healthy way.
When the dopamine is too high however, and maybe pleasures are used too much, you see signs. There may be evidence of anxiety, aggression and irritability. When pleasure goes wrong coping ability with life stresses are not as good. There is an old saying, stress is not what is happening but how we cope with it.
The reason I write about this is that being conscious of you and your family members pleasure consumption and needs may help you understand dopamine. Here at the clinic we can help you nutritionally and lifestyle wise to balance your dopamine levels. Make sure your pleasure is pleasurable in a healthy way.
Happiness is the key to a long life. It is good for our health in so many aspects. You will feel emotions such as joy and contentment. Contentment is such a lovely emotion where you simply feel good and don’t really want more or need more. Unlike pleasure happiness is slower and long lived. Happiness is an emotion you share, it can be open and giving. Ways of increasing natural happiness can be simplified to the three “C’s”
Connections - conversations, compassion for someone, empathy for someone, social support, family, religion. Even try solitude so you find time to connect with yourself without feeling the need to always do things.
Contribute – volunteering can be great for increasing contentment instantly, home baking, community clubs or groups. By contributing you feel self-worth and altruism.
Doing more of these activities to increase happiness can be so important to help in stressful or even depressed times of our lives. Pleasure is connected to dopamine levels whilst happiness is connected to serotonin levels. Too little serotonin leads to feelings of depression. The genetic connection is the MAO-A (AA). Where there is a genetic disposition to lower serotonin or a biochemical low serotonin there are some great natural remedies that help lift up serotonin levels.
Please talk to your practitioners if you have any concerns about your happiness (serotonin) and /or pleasure needs (dopamine)