Now you are probably thinking, “Well, that’s a silly question. Of course I want to enjoy pleasure. Who doesn’t?” And I would certainly agree with you. But what if I told you that many of us are doing the very things that could make experiencing pleasure more difficult?
Whenever we do something that brings us pleasure – eating ice cream, having sex, playing video games, watching football, and so on, the areas of the brain that are referred to as the “pleasure centers” light up. No problem so far. However, when we continue to repetitively and frequently light up one particular neural pathway, addictions are often formed. And taking that a step further, when dopamine (a neurotransmitter that impacts reward seeking) is excessively elevated, our pleasure center becomes less responsive, or begins to wear out.
What has been discovered is that over stimulating the brain’s pleasure center with digital devices can affect the brain the same way that cocaine does. An example of this would be when you are in the middle of a task – perhaps drying your hair or talking to your child and you find yourself compelled to interrupt the task because of the ping on your phone. You have to stop to check it. You could be actually causing a change in your brain structure.
Research is showing that as our continual focus on our devices, online communication, and technology increases, so do depression and anxiety. So, if you want to take a step today to preserve your brain’s pleasure center, strive to look up at people instead of down at your phone. The results may surprise you!