Can’t seem to get anything done? You might be dopamine dependent.

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.

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 to keep in mind 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.

3 reasons I love watching motivational videos

They have grabby titles, eye catching thumbnails and bold claims on how they can change your mindset: the motivational video movement seems to grow year upon year on video platforms.

Although my introduction sounded a little sarcastic, I genuinely love watching and listening to this type of content. I am listing here three reasons why I love these videos and will link to some of my favourite in this post.

1) Motivational videos are often well edited and pleasing to the eye.

Okay, so this first reason may not be ‘the best’. But hear me out.

You are taking time out of your day to listen to or watch content on the internet. How much more enjoyable is the experience when the background music is epic, there is a cinematic feel of the editing of film extracts and the true grit demonstrated by some of the people in the video makes you feel you could do the exact same thing?

Motivation video

2) Motivational videos give some good advice

There is many a time when I have sat down to watch one of these videos and thought to myself: “Yes, that is indeed good advice”. Who would disagree with the suggestions of watching less television, eating healthier and becoming more proactive in life?

Most of the advice is sound and can be laid out in a different way so as to make it click. Who knew that a change of perspective could give such Aha! moments. I admit that agreeing with the advice doesn’t mean that I always find myself applying it afterward, a fact which I will explore in another post. In the meantime, I am grateful every day that I have such free access to the internet and the billions of tuns of information that comes with it.

3) Motivational videos are … motivational

I love that feeling after watching a motivational video. Finding that gem, then listening intently to all its content and feeling a sense of accomplishment and change. It feels like research, like an essential component to get or keep going. I am bettering myself. I am learning.

Despite the caveats to this that I will explore in another post, I thoroughly enjoy the rush of purposefulness that follows watching this kind of content.

One of the lectures that I have enjoyed watching in the past is the following:

To conclude: I have heavily focused here on positive aspects of this kind of content that I enjoy, but I am sure that you can tell that there is a darker side to all of this… To be continued… 😉