14 Nov Surfing analogy
Here is an analogy, but it will help if you can imagine one thing that makes you really happy. Got it? What is it? Okay. You know how it makes you feel to do that one thing? Happy, excited, free… whatever those feelings are, now imagine that surfing is your thing and you feel the exact same way about it. (How cool would that be if surfing really was that thing for you?)
Anyway, now, imagine someone introduces you to a magical surfboard. On this magical surfboard (we’ll call it Tinker from now on), you can ride waves without falling. Every time you paddle out, you are assured to have a perfect ride. You can’t miss with Tinker. It only costs you $30 to use. So Tinker’s Master lets you take it out for a free test run and it is magical! Tinker can get you up on any wave and keep you hangin’ ten ‘til shore.
Your brain loves this. The pleasure centers in your brain are so excited that you are releasing dopamine (Danny) like crazy. And the dopamine release feels so good—better than anything you’ve felt in your life – that you just want to hang ten with Tinker all day. So you ask the Master for another ride (which costs you $30). After that, you know that you have other things to do so you return Tinker and you go about your week.
But nagging in the back of your mind is how great it felt to ride Tinker.
And then you hear that all your friends will be using Tinker over the weekend.
And then you start to feel really stressed at school and you begin to look for a release of that stress.
And then dad yells at you for bringing home a B in science. (Really? Earning a B is good!)
So, you begin to want Tinker. A clean ride on a big wave would be awesome. You make a call to the Master and secure yourself a ride that very day. It costs only $30 and you’ve saved your allowance.
The ride is awesome. You can’t fail on Tinker. You even try bigger and bigger waves: waves you had never dreamed you could manage. And your ride is flawless. Tinker’s Master is egging you on the whole time. You begin to take Tinker out every day.
What you are not aware of though, is that Tinker is also messing with your head.
In your head, you have four specific functions that you rely on each day:
- Motivation – you need motivation to get your work done and to be a productive student, friend, sibling, son or daughter. You are motivated to do good things and be a good person.
- Memory – you have a memory to help you remember what needs to be done, if you did something, how much fun something was… the list is endless.
- Learning – well, of course, this is something you rely on each day: your ability to learn. That’s a no-brainer (bad joke).
- Pleasure – why do all these things if you don’t derive (get) any pleasure from them? Life is about doing what’s right, but also about having a lot of fun.
Tinker is in your brain causing trouble. Each time you ride a wave on Tinker, you are experiencing a high that could not exist without her magical powers. Therefore, you want more of her. You want more of her so badly that it is all you can think about. And Tinker’s Master is very happy about this. After all, he makes more money.
But what has really happened, and what you are not aware of, is that your brain has also shifted.
Those four functions that you experience daily have changed:
- You are now only motivated to find a way to get Tinker.
- You can only remember what it was like to be on Tinker. And when you see your friends who also ride Tinker, it just reminds you of how much you need Tinker.
- Your ability to learn has become impaired and you are making poor decisions.
- You are actually feeling less pleasure on Tinker.
(This final factor, a lessening of pleasure, is what is called tolerance. You need bigger waves and more time on Tinker to feel the same pleasure you did the very first time.)
All those factors in your brain have suddenly, without your complete awareness, shifted. And they shifted just about the time that you ran out of your allowance. The allowance you had been saving to buy gifts for the holidays is gone. And Tinker’s Master does not loan money. In fact, if you don’t pay the Master, you may be in danger.
But you are broke. What now?
Did you get the analogy? What’s the thing in your life that brings you the most pleasure?