In the past weeks I’ve read a lot about the psychology of things. Yeah, let’s just say that. Or I could do myself a favor and make this whole post a lot more interesting by saying “the psychology of willpower, self-control and other self-helpyish stuff”.
So one thing I learned is that dopamine is an asshole hormone that makes you want stuff and makes you keep doing something even if it doesn’t even feel good. (Checking Facebook, anyone?) Of course, dopamine has its good uses – without it people turn sluggish, hopeless and depressed, unable to imagine anything giving joy.
But enough of science – what does this have to do with New Year’s resolutions?
In the past years I’ve been a pretty adamant resolution-supporter. Worshipper. Prayer. Whatever, I’ve said a lot of resolutions, they have yet to come true. Hell, I don’t even remember the one from last year, but I’m sure it filled my January with bright hope and a heavy crash.
It’s called the False Hope Syndrome. It’s basically you being sick of something about yourself and wanting control over your life again, so you set a goal, and hey, while we’re doing it, let’s set a really high one. “Someone climbed Mount Everest? Fuck that. I’ll climb to the moon – no, Mars! What? There’s no feasible way of doing that? Well, stop underestimating me, ‘cause I’ll be the first person to climb in air!” – That’s you when you make resolutions. And I gotta hand it to you, way to be ambitious, but air’s not that great for, you know, having a lower density than solid matter.
What happens when you overshoot like this? You give yourself a quick boost of dopamine and a sense of self-control, and like the mice in this dopamine experiment that’s all we really want. Right? Except those mice ran themselves to death on electric shock for a lust of dopamine, and it didn’t even release any happy-hormones, like serotonin.
Bringing me back to New Year’s Resolutions. Continue reading