Dopamine. A neurotransmitter without which we couldn’t even move. The driving force that makes us do things and helps us accomplish our goals.
It's possible to get dopamine from various sources, good and bad. One of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century is the abundant access to unhealthy dopamine sources, such as drugs, alcohol, caffeine, gambling, the internet, gaming, porn, nicotine, medicine, and overeating. This abundant access increases the likelihood of getting addicted. Getting dopamine from these sources can mean anticipating them, and performing the action feels freaking amazing. Certain drugs can even give you a multitude of the dopamine you can get from an orgasm, one of the highest dopamine peaks available. I can understand people getting addicted to substances. Our body hasn’t been built to adapt to these extreme dopamine highs.
However, due to the pain-pleasure balance, it's almost like a rubberband effect - it snaps back into the negative. Once the activity is over, the dopamine can go below the baseline, as the brain wants to keep the balance between pleasure and pain.
On the other hand, dopamine is crucial to survive and even move. Parkinson's Disease is an example, where a person can't move and freezes if the dopamine-producing neurons are not properly working.
Enough dark stuff — what are some healthy sources of dopamine?
Exercise: See the runner’s high - a reward for moving.
Sunlight: Sunlight can increase dopamine, so light therapy can be very effective.
Cold shower: A cold shower is a pain for the body, causing a high dose of epinephrine and dopamine to be released, causing the pleasure/pain balance to tip to the other side.
Meditation: Prolonged-focused meditation can lead to feelings of calm and pleasure, increasing dopamine.
NSDR & Sleep: Help replenish the dopamine levels.
Listening to Music: This can help boost dopamine, especially if the music evokes strong emotions.
Positive social interactions: These can positively influence neurochemicals, including oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, prolactin, and serotonin.
Depending on where we’re at, doing a dopamine fast for a while (from the former sources mentioned above) can be a blessing. Dr. Anna Lemke recommends 30 days of fasting of whatever substance or activity might spike our dopamine to the unhealthy side.