Monday, 17 March 2014

Yes in 10 minutes

My current listen - The Willpower instinct (by Kelly McGonial) prompted me to read a little more about addiction and the role of dopamine. I did read and I found that the information on the web is quite scattered and it was difficult for me to summarize it without writing it down which is how this piece came to live.

I then also learned that writing down is useful for many other reasons. I will blog about them in a future post.

Now back to dopamine. Almost certainly every human being can recall that strong feeling of unbearable expectation to eat/drink/smoke/do something they "like" (or can't live without). We have even coined a word - "crave" and the way we see it - it is almost impossible to make any other choice than to go for it. Does this sound familiar? If it seems about right then you might be interested in what follows

When we chase something attractive dopamine is released in our brain. Dopamine is a neuro chemical which is absorbed by the brain areas responsible for attention, action, desire and (as recent research shows) reward. Various scientists (including Marc Lewis, PhD) have arrived at the conclusion that we can become addicted to the dopamine release. 

If we become addicted to something (e.g. drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc) soon the release of dopamine is controlled by the anticipation of getting more. This is the strong feeling I mentioned at the start. And the more times we go through this process the stronger the feeling gets.

An article published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that increased levels of dopamine make us more likely to opt for instant gratification, rather than waiting for a longer term reward - e.g. eat a chocolate bar vs reduce your weight. The strong feeling of anticipation that releases dopamine makes us choose short term rewards.

Another important details is that the decision to choose short term rewards is processed by one part of our brain (some call it the reptile brain, others the chimp brain) and considering the long term reward by another (the human brain). This is why we can get a feeling that we're having an internal battle or at least hesitating when having to make a decision what to choose.

And here's an useful tip: Decide to go for it but in 10 minutes. What happens is in a few minutes your human brain takes over and you are much more likely to make the correct decision according to your long-term goals. 

Apart from learning a little bit more about how our brain works I've found the "Yes, In 10 minutes" suggestion to be quite useful - so why not try it yourself and let me know how it goes?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

End of year book report

2012 looks like the year in which I managed to read more books then the past 5 previous years combined!

This is an amazing achievement for me. I learned so much from the books I read and I am grateful to all the people who inspired me and/or recommended reading -and I do apologize if I have missed someone -but here's those that spring to mind at the time of typing - Bob Marshall (@flowchainsense), Mike Sutton (@mhsutton), Rob Brown, Jurgen Appelo (), many of the chaps at work including Julian Browne, Thomas Moore, Joe Karthauser and Alistair Thomas and of course my family for letting me read whenever I can.

To add to the 12 books I read in the first half of 2012 here's the rest:
(audio books)

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age (Unabridged) Dale Carnegie & Associates

Change Anything (Unabridged) Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler 6 hrs and 32 mins

Great by Choice (Unabridged) Jim Collins, Morten T Hansen 8 hrs and 33 mins

Spark (Unabridged) John J. Ratey

Primal Leadership (Unabridged) Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

Crucial Conversations Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

The Lean Startup (Unabridged) Eric Ries

Just Listen (Unabridged) Mark Goulston

The Fifth Discipline Peter M. Senge

Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge: Second Edition By Geoffrey M. Bellman

How the Mind Works By Steven Pinker


Buylogy by Martin Lindstrom

Running Lean by Ash Maurya

A total of 25 books which is what I wanted to achieve so pretty lucky. I shall now just carry on reading throughout 2013 ;)