I watched a YouTube video the other day which opened my eyes to the brutal realisation that I am an addict.
Yes, I said it. I am addicted. But to what, may you ask…
I have known for a long time that I spend a lot of time on the internet, more specifically on YouTube, and more specifically on self-help and personal development videos. The ones I was praising not too long ago on this blog. Hear me out on this…
They are conceived to give short-term gratification
In a recent post I did explain how there is some great advice given about mindset and goal setting in those videos. They really do get you thinking you have this aha! moment that will change you for the rest of your life.
Although I won’t discount that it could happen to others, in my personal case I have found that although I have seen watched hundreds of videos of this kind on YouTube, I am still in need of watching more , as if I crave that ‘hit’ of feeling that I am working on my goals, despite my personal/professional/financial situation being similar to what it was last year. Hundreds of hours wasted on trying to find that “sweet spot’ of motivation.
Some of the advice may be sensible and the facts true. However, because I am tricking myself in thinking that I am being productive by watching those videos, I end up not taking actionable steps to make any of my ambitions happen. I might watch every video on YouTube about side hustles to find the ‘right one’ or ‘right way of doing it’ instead of taking action. Some research is indeed essential, but too much can impede on actual progress.
What does it have to do with dopamine?
Dopamine is a feel good chemical in the brain. It is released during pleasurable experiences and is part of the ‘reward system’ of the brain.
Like I said before, watching self help videos makes me feel good at the time. But this fades after a while, until I find the next video.
Because I am so used to getting that feeling of self achievement through watching videos, actually grinding at the building blocks of a side hustle or project can feel really tedious in comparison.
Edited reels of hard working people in films make the process look a lot shorter and painful than it actually is. Even if you work on a project you are passionate about, there will be times when less enjoyable and frustrating tasks have to be done.
I ended up comparing self help YouTube videos today to ‘intellectual masturbation’. Enjoyable but unfulfilling. Make of this as you will.
How to free yourself from this?
It has to do with the consumer/producer mindset . If you make a list of all the activities you take part in every given day and categorise them, a majority of them should involve you creating or producing something as this develops skills and provides value.
Whether it is through practising writing skills as I am now, playing an instrument, learning a language, practising yoga, building a business, cooking a special dish, producing may be more frustrating in the short term, but will bring the most gains in the long term.
There will of course times where consuming is necessary. The important word here is balance.
And in those times when choosing a book to read or video to watch, mindfulness of purpose is key, whether it is for educational or entertainment purposes.
To conclude: Create, create and create. Then rest.