Chasing Carrots

I had a conversation with a new friend the other day about love. Is love as we know it real or just an illusive place to visit? The invisible road with a map that’s yet to be discovered. Love is intangible, yet we still constantly fight 24/7 to hold it in our hands. As an Californian born single child, I didn’t have the best love role models. My parents divorced. My Grandparents fought viciously. As far as I was concerned, if this was love, you could have it. I wanted nothing to do with that drama, yet somehow I felt the pull and allure of butterflies and swoon. Love, or what I thought love was, just felt so good. The Adrenaline, Dopamine, and Serotonin cocktail of love was a high I could get behind, and drink it I did. The chemical haze fogged my better judgement and often left me well, addicted. When the relationship (or lack there of) ended my brain didn’t know the love fix was over, and my heart was already enraptured by the habit. Scientists say that, “love isn’t so much an emotion in its own right”—although aspects of it are obviously highly emotional—as it is a “goal-oriented motivational state.” I had my target. Got the bullseye, and now I wanted to play darts every damn day!

dangling_carrot
So, if love is chemical and really about chasing the carrot to satisfy your brain’s craving for the Kool-aid, what other ways can we use this obsession for good?

  • Health and Fitness

I am super familiar with this struggle. As a professional Pilates instructor I find it just as hard as to get my clients motivated as I do my own ass. Come on, why would anyone want to move instead of just lie around or eschew birthday cake in lieu of rice cakes? Well turns out that it’s not just the generating the love hormone of Dopamine that matters, but also where we physically generate it. That girl who you always see at the gym sweating it out most likely has her dope (short only for dopamine:) production in the stratum and prefontal cortex- the two areas known for motivation and reward, while the “slackers” like me produce the stuff in the anterior insula, the area of the brain that is for emotion and risk perception. The sheer act of moving your body, especially with cardiovascular exercise, makes your brain release dopamine and will make you feel like a million bucks. That’s right. The more you do the stuff the more you want it, and eventually crave it as much as that chocolate bar.

  • Goal Setting

The same goes for the goal setting goodness. Why do you think it feels oh so good to cross that to-do off your list? Dopamine baby. Check. Rush. Repeat. So if you get a shot of the good stuff every time you complete a task, make sure you break each goal into easy completed segments to get the most dope (short for dopamine again, sorry) for your buck. The easier smaller segment of your goal, the easier it is to complete, the better you feel, the harder you work. Done and done.

So next time you’re lamenting your procrastinating or sloth-like ways, just get off your buns and starting the good vibes will follow, after all it’s all just in your head.

 

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