| August 7, 2018


Podcast #429: Taking Control of the Brain Chemical That Drives Excitement, Motivation, and More

Why do you feel so motivated and excited about tackling a new project at first, but then get bored and abandon it?
Why does passionate love quickly turn into ambivalence? 
Why does it feel like you had more zest for life and work in your twenties than in your thirties and forties?
Much of the answer can be found in a single chemical in your brain: dopamine.
That’s the case today’s guests make. Their names are Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long, and they’re the co-authors of a new book entitled The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity. Daniel is a professor of psychiatry at George Washington University and Michael is a trained physicist turned writer. In The Molecule of More, they team up to explore a chemical that compels us towards achieving our goals, but also towards addiction. 
We begin our conversation discussing the situations in which dopamine plays a role in our lives, how it’s made, and how dopamine levels change throughout our lifetimes. We then discuss how dopamine drives our endless search for novelty, and the problems this can cause if we don’t learn to how to switch from the excitement of anticipating something, to enjoying it in the here and now. Daniel and Michael then walk us through dopamine’s role in addiction to things like porn and drugs and the differences between “desire dopamine” and “control dopamine.” Along the way, they share insights on how to harness your dopamine so it works towards your greater goals, rather than against them.
If you love the thrill of the chase, but have a hard time transitioning from pursuing something to actually building it, this is the podcast for you.

Show Highlights

  • Two ways in which we interact with the world, and why they’re important to understand
  • What exactly is dopamine? What are some misunderstandings about it?
  • Why “Reward Prediction Error” fuels dopamine production 
  • Dopamine’s effects in the early stages of dating 
  • Why Mick Jagger and George Costanza are the same 
  • Are some people more sensitive to dopamine than others?
  • What are some characteristics of people who are especially sensitive to dopamine?
  • Desire dopamine vs control dopamine 
  • How much can you influence/control the flow of dopamine in your system?
  • Why taking Adderall when not medically needed is a bad idea 
  • Does dopamine sensitivity/production change over one’s lifetime?
  • The other neurotransmitters that play a role in our lives
  • The role of novelty and new experiences in relationships
  • Wants vs likes 
  • Dopamine and addiction 
  • You are not your dopamine circuits 
  • Triggers and opposing/avoiding your desire dopamine 
  • Dopamine best practices — getting the best of it while mitigating downsides 
  • The value of hobbies 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Daniel and Michael  

Molecule of More website

Mike on Twitter

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Podcast Sponsors

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Recorded with ClearCast.io.

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