Your brain gets addicted to making the wrong decisions

TLDR: (Too Long, Didn’t Read)

  • When you procrastinate or doing bad habits, usually you don’t get immediately punished, and instead you get immediate reward (dopamine) and you feel good.
  • This triggers your brain’s dopamine reward cycle, so you are more likely to repeat this “easy shortcut” to gain an easy dopamine.
  • Realize this and try to make your “good decisions” easier to do and more rewarding than the bad habits or procrastination.
  • When you complete a good habit, remind yourself that you win, feel good about it, celebrate your win, give yourself a small dopamine reward.
  • Make bad habits harder to do, e.g.: remove social media, games from your phone’s home screen, or uninstall it completely.
  • Start small and make the good habits look easy, e.g.: 5 push-ups every day, read 1 page every day.

Original reddit thread:

by diatonix – 282 points – 15 days ago


Honestly so much of deciding to be better is about controlling your dopamine switches.

When you make the decision to procrastinate, and don’t get immediately punished for it, you actually get immediately rewarded because you don’t have to expend effort. So even though you realize later it was a bad decision, you still wire your brain to make that decision again because you got immediate gratification from it.

It’s the same with ordering out when you should be cooking.

It’s the same with skipping the gym.

Your brain gets addicted to making the wrong decision.

So you have to give yourself positive feedback somehow by making the right decision to overwrite those impulses, or be super careful not to make the wrong decision because every time you do, you deepen that neurological connection in your brain.

So, when you cook, remind yourself how nice and cheap it was, how you are learning a life skill, how you now have tons of leftovers, etc.

When you go to the gym, remind yourself how good you feel after, how you are on your path to a better physique, a longer life, etc.

This kind of reddit thread usually becomes a “gateway” to further down the rabbit hole of researching and reading more about a certain topic.

There are comments that leads me into another resources about habit and overcoming addiction:

1. A video explaining Dopamine Detox, by Universal Man on Youtube

diatonix – 10 points – 15 days ago


Yep the hardest part is that you can’t just make the change overnight. You need time to help your brain rewire.

A cool explanation of this process comes from this guy:

Mark Queppet explains it well the state of nowadays’ addiction to social media:

The media is so enticing to us and providing a quick dopamine reward for doing so. Like using social media, posting stuff and then giving and getting virtual “likes” that doesn’t mean anything. Nowadays we all are addicted to meaningless tasks.

When you follow an internet celebrity, or consume media and news, watch shows etc., he said that we are no longer a main character on our life, it’s just like we’re doing NPC behaviour and other person (the celebrity) got to be the “main character”.

Let’s start by a “dopamine fast” and not doing things that grant instant gratification. Seek reward not in social media and addiction, but from meaningful tasks.

Imagine you want to eat a broccoli and you don’t like it. You prefer a chocolate cake instead. You know that a chocolate cake is not healthy, broccoli is healthier. Then you eat the chocolate cake.

Now imagine if “eating the chocolate cake” is removed completely from your life. No chocolate cake anymore! The only thing available to eat is the broccoli.

You wait and wait, until you starve. Then suddenly the broccoli sounds delicious, you eat the broccoli and you realize it is indeed delicious, on top of satiating your hunger, it has a lot of nutrients and vitamins. And then you must cling to this feeling the next time you want to eat broccoli, remind you how great it is.

That’s how important a dopamine fast is for you — rewiring your brain. Uninstall your social media right now.

Here’s the video:
Becoming a Man of Action via the Dopamine Detox (MoA #01) – 25 minutes long

2. Atomic Habits – book by James Clear

by E_Anonymous – 3 points – 15 days ago

I’ve been going through Atomic Habits and it’s one of my favorite “self-help” books I’ve ever read. I imagine they have some similarities in identifying bad habits and creating good ones.

“We tend to overestimate the importance of single actions and underestimate the power of making small improvements repetitively over a longer period of time”

Don’t dream too big; don’t dream to become the next bestselling author, to become a successful youtuber with millions of subscribers, don’t dream to be a crazy rich person.

Those things won’t happen overnight.

Instead, start small and build a system that works in the long run.

Set your daily habit so easy and specific that you can’t ignore doing it:

  • 5 push-ups a day, after waking up from bed in the morning
  • Read 1 page from a book a day, before going to sleep at night
  • Save x amount of money every day, do it after lunch
  • Write 1 sentence a day, after dinner

For example: you drink a bottle of soda instead of water.
On a single day, this might not seem a bad thing. It only happened once anyway, you said to yourself: “only this once”
In the long run, you are more likely to repeat this every time you has an option to drink soda.
Because those small decisions we make everyday is all there is, our life is the sum of all small decisions we make.

Don’t set goals, build systems instead.

A good analogy is on a sports competition, the goal of each team is to get the highest score. But looking on the scoreboard is not gonna help to gain the score. They do it by focusing on the better process, better strategy, teamwork, etc. Therefore you have a chance to get a higher score.
“The score takes care of itself” – Bill Walsh, Superbowl coach

Too focused on the goal will make you burn out easily, because you are not going to reach your goal very soon.

If you’re not comfortable of reading a book, or more like a “visual” person, or whatever your excuses you may have, then watch this short video (11 mins) by Ali Abdaal:
(But seriously you gotta sit down and read the book, and stop those “instant gratification”)


Here’s one good quote by John C. Maxwell:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine”