There are two kinds of dopamine, and they’re not even close to being the same thing.
The two dopamine circuits.
In a book by Dr. Daniel E Lieberman, MD is noted that urges come from dopamine passing through the mesolimbic circuit, which we call the dopamine desire circuit. Calculation and planning—the means of dominating situations—come from the mesocortical circuit, which we will call the dopamine control circuit
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for many things, including pleasure-seeking behaviour, motivation, and reward anticipation. And also planning and execution of strategies to get what he wants over months to years.
Desire dopamine is the kind of dopamine that makes you feel like you need something all the time—like you have to have it right now. It makes you want to do things that feel good right now, and it’s not always easy to say no to those urges.
Control dopamine is what helps us think through our choices when we’re faced with desire dopamine’s urgings.
Control dopamine helps us stop and consider what we really want out of life and how we can get it. It allows us to see past the immediate gratification of desire dopamine so we can make decisions based on what will be best for our long-term happiness and success.
If desire dopamine is the kid in the backseat, yelling “Look! Look! can we stop! every time he sees a shiny new thing, then controlling dopamine is the parent at the wheel, considering whether it’s worth stopping for.
Control dopamine takes the excitement and motivation provided by desire dopamine, evaluates options, selects tools, and plots a strategy to get what it wants.
We need to recover both dopa circuits too.
Professor Andrew Huberman, PhD said that serotonin is released in response to your subjective experience of having enough resources. As you can see, you are toggling back and forth between both systems: a strong hormonal response (dopamine and V8 hormones), and a calm hormonal response (serotonin, endocannabinoids, and endorphins).
During the bulk of the day, you are using the dopamine system to get it done like a boss. You are also triggering serotonin “joy and happiness recovery points” for 10 – 15 minutes. In doing so, you strengthen the serotonin muscle and allow the dopamine muscle to recover for the next round. Serotonin is joy and happiness.
If you want to have a long career as a true high achiever, you need tools to recover the dopamine system. Serotonin, Huberman noted, recovers the dopamine system putting you back in the fight! Even short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.
Understand, failure to respect these neurochemical pathways is like throwing money away. Your happiness and go-getter attitude go bankrupt. That can turn into a bankrupted attitude—respect these two systems and keep V8 hormones high because you cannot pour from an empty cup.
The Greeks version of happiness is one I respect. I first heard this from Shawn Achor. Happiness is the joy you feel moving towards your potential: my take, connecting with and helping others get what they want, and building a legacy for my family.
So for me, if what I’m doing doesn’t move me towards my potential, my energy is turning to shit, and I will go bankrupt emotionally and financially. Respect the dopamine and serotonin systems, don’t let them go bankrupt.
Master all three circuits and you’ll master motivation.