We are a slave to our senses, entangled in the grip of our primal instincts. It's as if we are training a dog with a treat, and that treat is dopamine—the brain's reward for survival. Every time we engage in behaviors that ensure our well-being, such as eating, having sex, gaining power, or receiving validation from others, dopamine is released, reinforcing our actions. Essentially, our brain is potty-training us for life, creating a loop of craving and reward.
This dopamine loop operates at a limbic level, even when our pre-frontal cortex—the part of our brain associated with higher-order thinking—is disengaged. We find ourselves trapped in a cycle of seeking instant gratification, driven by our base desires rather than the pursuit of higher pleasures in life.
But there's more to our brain's pleasure system than just dopamine. Endorphins, natural opioids, and the endocannabinoid system all contribute to our sense of happiness and pleasure. Understanding the complexities of these systems empowers us to take control and tame our inner ape.
The ability to say 'no' is a vastly underappreciated skill. It defines our identity—who we truly are. Are we simply slaves to our hunger, lust, and desires? Or are we the masters of our pre-frontal cortex, capable of transcending our primal urges and making decisions free from emotional baggage?
Our biology is hardwired to prioritize survival above all else. Every action, every thought is geared towards keeping us alive. However, we often underestimate the influence of our fears on our personalities. To disconnect from these fears and discover our true selves, we must embark on a threefold journey.
Firstly, we need to be empathetic towards ourselves.
Acknowledge that we are analog apes navigating a complex and bewildering dystopia that we call city life. In our hearts, all we truly desire is to be "good boys" and ensure the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.
Secondly, we must quell the panic that plagues us. Enlightenment comes from the realization that we need not constantly strive to "stay alive" as our ancestors did.
Unlike them, we are not constantly under threat from predators. Embrace this truth and let it permeate your being.
Lastly, we must recognize that we are not in complete control. Shed the illusion of control and understand that our brain's limbic system holds ultimate veto power. It possesses millions of years of evolutionary wisdom, constantly working to keep us alive. Witness the astonishing lengths regular individuals will go to in order to survive. Remember, you are not unique; your body and face are a reflection of our ancestors.
Once we break free from the shackles of our biology, we need a cheat code for our brains—a way to navigate our identities and achieve self-control.
Siddharth Warrior astutely points out, "Your identity is formed when your stress is down. We take so much pride or shame in 'this is who I am.' Both are unnecessary because you can become whoever you want."
Let go of the notion that we are the pinnacle of evolution. We are, in essence, monkeys who have stumbled upon the marvels of smartphones. Embrace the paradox and recognize that true self-control lies not in denying our primal nature but in understanding and guiding it towards a higher purpose.