Happiness, fulfillment, salvation and your brain’s biological makeup.
This starts out being something about a dear college friend, let’s name him X, something very general yet profound in terms of the impact it can have upon careful pondering and assimilation. For the backstory, basically he got everything one would want upon graduating- the grades, the friends, the reputation, that much aspired for job, legitimate friend-to-friend connection, the girl etc..
For the entire duration of my engineering, having observed his way of living, specifically the part in which in any moment, he appeared to be the most engaged, the most jolly, the most “normal”(in real terms) individual, while the others were either half disconnected or half uninterested or half guilt ridden regarding any matter or individual involved in the present activity, I always wondered what is there so special to X that his seemingly normal life is perfectly normal, while others are either loathing inside, or are vengeful, resentful on the inside? Past events? sure. But what apart from past trauma?
The answer lied in the lack of specific knowledge in everybody else about various issues, issues which were not only irrelevant to the present region of operation(college life at that time) but constant rumination over which led to partially or completely destructive patterns and habits and a consequent negative outlook towards a host of significant issues of life(women, money, relationships, religion, society etc.) which manifested itself as a permanent decrease or rather absence of interest in thoughtful and careful engagement in anything that appeared seemingly connected to the task at hand or the present situation. For example, in my 11th grade I personally had developed such a negative worldview of doom and doom thanks to my interest in geopolitics and mainstream news being my only source of information, that while I was swift at absorbing new information, I was unable to find joy and meaning in their remotest sense in anything I did- engaging in thoughtful conversation with seniors, loitering around with friends, and that is something I not only became resentful and guilt-ridden about, it acted as trickle down effect to such an extent that I kept on screwing up my coming years, only until the day I finally came home(thanks COVID) and ruminated upon all this.
Whereas X, he didn’t know anything I knew about, he was just enjoying and engaging in the moment, and it was not only X but the majority of the “high achievers” around me. I for once considered them an incomplete version of X and I still do, I still think they do not have a vision neither the desire to make any significant impact on this world, apart from living their lives in a “satisfied”(cliche) manner, but not everybody is built for that and who knows about the future, but my key take away does remain the fact that deliberate ignorance remains an essential part of developing your understanding and evolution.
And to put the above in terms of whatever little neuroscience I could study and understand, here’s the summation:
[a tiny lesson in how this part of the brain works]-Dopamine levels in your brain have a baseline and you are bound to live on that baseline, for every spike there HAS to be a fall, for every high there HAS to be a low, thus continuous pump of highs and highs result in the brain adjusting this baseline to lower levels so that when you come back to the baseline(which you have because that’s how the brain functions) you have to come down and down to compensate for the continuous high you gave yourself every moment via food, social media, porn etc. And the lower you go the more you feel negative(here the dopamine release is negative and if release gives you pleasure, a negative release would give you something opposite of pleasure- call it what you will). No wonder you can’t study like the you which prepared for JEE, you just have rotten your brain’s reward mechanisms and its muscle memory to such an extent that until a complete overhaul occurs, things will stay the same with regards to your brain’s capacity. No wonder poor folks are good at academics- the only source of dopamine they can afford is from information from the books they purchase and the equations they derive on paper, and the grades they receive.
Thus your entire life is revolving around the baseline you’ve set for your dopamine receptors and the underlying systems. EVERY single thing. So its imperative that you keep your baseline levels high so that small things in life keep exciting you and thus keep making you live your life, live this ‘moment’. That’s why you got very very few options-
- either stop engaging in pleasure inducing activities(which involves anything that gives dopamine hits without actual fruitful action- involves binge eating, binge watching, chronic masturbation, binging on Instagram reels between work and at night etc.) to keep those daily chores rewarding so that when the day ends whatever indulgence you reward yourself with actually makes sense in real terms and hence is a real reward, or
- start pursuing pain deliberately which will in turn compel you to reassess your brain’s inclinations and its frequency to release dopamine and serotonin, a good example being deliberately learning a new skill for 30 mins a day so that your pleasure laden brain is forced to dive deep into the abyss below your dopamine levels’ baseline(which hurts, a lot) so that once you are done with the session, you have somewhat balanced it out for all binging and high you’ve been taking every other second of the day.
It’s been quite a rant but this was something I wanted to get out, for I’m trying to make sense of spirituality, self help, common sense, and here I do feel I am able to make some connections.
The above content could also be interpreted from Shrimad Bhagvat Gita’s lesson of “Hey Partha! Stay detached from the outcome, stay detached and remain the same in happiness and in sorrow, and surrender your actions to me[| 2.14 || 2.38 || 2.47|| 2.48|]”. A part of this surely has got to do with this part of maintaining your neurochemistry .
Ying and Yang come together, good and bad are two faces of the same coin, makes sense, so don’t go to high too often which will render you capable enough to fire those receptors when you’re working on that great project or are pursuing that beautiful girl,in those moments your passion and determination would be derived only from the limited exposure you practiced in your daily life.
This also states that life is fairly simple, keep the baseline high and exposure low and that will keep your determination and resolve naturally high and this in turn will take care of all your material and later philosophical needs too. The truth is that ice-cream or night-out with your girl or your man must come not often and only after you really do something to deserve it, then only they shall remain “tasty” enough.
I’m still kinda jealous of my friend X and saddened to have figured this out somewhat at this stage, but happy that I can make sense of things now, if am making any for the moment, and help anyone reading make sense of anything relatable too.
[ignore my grammatical errors please, I dread not being the vocabulary savant I once was :(]
Linking this precise talk you could give a listen to.
Jay Neel Saraswati.