Do you think you’re overly phone addicted? If you’re not sure, do you want to check? Do this three-minute exercise and put your phone on the table, walk around the room, and talk to some people around. Walk back to your desk after few minutes and see what happens. When I practiced it, all I experienced was an increased excitement and anticipation which was about an expected message or notification, emails or some updates on the social media apps.

Dr. Robert H. Lustig classifies these habits as smartphone addiction in terms of too much dopamine available but not the serotonin.

Lustig recently published a book titled as “Hacking of American Minds” where he has extensively talked about how all of us are mixing pleasure with happiness.

Important things to note here are that being pleased or elated doesn’t mean being happy. Pleasure comes from dopamine while happiness comes with serotonin. And this confusion has made many of us follow things that please us but actually make us miserable. Running after this technology has made an illusion of happiness which isn’t actually happiness. People are walking away from face-to-face interactions to virtual interaction they seek pleasure from and confuse it with happiness.

Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook has recently revealed that his company is working on changing the algorithm to bring more relevant and humane content on people’s timelines than brand contents to enhance the quality of the relationship. But Lestig still doesn’t see that coming to hit serotonin. Because studies have proved that unhealthily increased use of Facebook leads to depression and low self-esteem.

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These products say apps are addictive because they produce pleasure. The rule says anything that produces unhealthy pleasure is addictive. And Lestig believes Facebook is one of the companies who is confusing the line between dopamine and serotonin.

Pleasure is not Happiness

Pleasure is never equal to happiness. Happiness is about contentment, satisfaction, a feeling that lasts longer while pleasure is timely and require compulsive repetitive behaviour to exist. Lestif defines it as pleasure is like “this is good, I want more of it” while happiness is more like, “this feels good, I’m okay I don’t want this thing more.” Enjoying conversations with people on social media creates a pleasure like when drinking a coke. But happiness is different. Pleasure and happiness are even triggered by different neurotransmitters and activate different brain areas and are dealt by completely different hormones say dopamine and serotonin.

Pleasure is short term and limited. Have eaten a chocolate? It’s over. While happiness lasts longer. Like seeing a family member after years, that feeling stays. Pleasure excites you, makes your heart pump fast and activates your fight-and-flight system while happiness actually slows your heartbeat and relaxes you. More of, according to Lestig, pleasure is more about winning or taking such as winning a lottery but happiness lies in giving. People who help others and give charity are happier than those who don’t.

So, the more dopamine is always bad. Don’t confuse your online interaction real even when they are slight. They are doing you very less good. The more you seek pleasure the more unhappy you get.

How to resolve the Issue

Lestig offers 4-C workout to let go of pleasure and to hold on to happiness.

  • Connect
  • Contribute
  • Cope
  • Cook

I hope you’ve got a reason to work more on your in-person relationships than on your virtual ones.

Have fun and stay HAPPY!


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