Um, hello body…. This is your captain speaking… is your transmitter that’s regulating all of your body’s dopamine levels turned on? While I appreciated your initial interest and motivation – I wonder if you have maybe taken on too much. This is the conversation that I wanted to have with my body after reading this book. I think I’m broken.
Dopamine is an essential neurotransmitter for controlling feelings and actions. When we accomplish tasks, get something we want, or engage in rewarding activities… endorphins are produced. Dopamine, as Daniel Lieberman writes in The Molecule of More, is crucial for experiencing pleasure and inspiration. He thinks that if we can learn to regulate our dopamine levels, we can become more efficient and happy in our daily lives.
Going back to the time where Jesus walked, people have pondered the difficulty of achieving and keeping happiness. Everyone has heard the myths about individuals looking for the “winning ticket” or the “perfect” existence. All of these are that needle in a haystack opportunity. Collectively as a cohort we are all pushing our bodies, mind and soul to complete a task few people in relation to the human count of the world complete. But suppose joy wasn’t so hard to find… Is it possible that happiness may be explained by reason alone? The author does a great job of analyzing the biology of what makes us happy and how we might utilize these results to improve our lives.
The “molecule,” or the neurotransmitter dopamine, is Lieberman’s major emphasis throughout the book. Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine when we complete a task or reach a goal. Some individuals may seem happier over others because they often partake in activities that produce a dopamine rush!
What are some tasks that give you a rush? For me…I have come up with the following:
- Being a mom as a whole is so hard while juggling everything on my plate at the moment… However, when the house is clean, the laundry is all complete, and the kids are all playing (especially when their dad joins in) there are not enough nets in the world to catch all that dopamine from me!
- Working in our non-profit keeps my levels up! It must be because I work every day to try to manage it and I light up when I talk about it because I know we are changing a lot of lives. My drive here is fierce.
- We are currently at the end of a huge build and while it would seem fun – I have learned grit I did not know that I had. Somehow I have pushed my body almost past no return to get this ministry up for our community. It must be the dopamine.
Lieberman discusses a number of strategies for raising your dopamine output. Regular meditation and exercise both enhance neuron formation by creating new connections between neurons, which in turn increases the body’s natural dopamine levels. As a means of maintaining consistent dopamine levels, he recommends “dopamine-reinforcing” hobbies like reading and playing games.
The Molecule of More is filled with suggestions for improving one’s quality of life via techniques like journaling and goal-setting. It also provides helpful guidance on how to assess and make use of your own emotional states, rather than attempting to ignore or bury them. I personally have a terrible time of doing this to myself and appreciated him including this in the book. Using this teaches us the skills we need to keep our emotions and actions under control, allowing us to thrive in our personal and professional lives.
Overall, The Molecule Of More is an invaluable guide for anybody who has ever wondered why they can’t consistently experience joy in their lives. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking inner peace or looking for advice on improving their work-life balance. He provides insights that are easy to grasp but lead us closer to unlocking true happiness from within ourselves by exploring neuroscience in relation to everyday experiences like stress management and goal setting strategies.
Lieberman, Daniel Z. The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity – and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2019.