(Breather) “Struggle gives meaning and richness to life.” But what happens without struggle? In our world, our minds are constantly being hijacked by profit-seeking, corporate entities.
Humans are hard-wired to respond to novel stimulation, and our modern, high-tech existence has left us addicted to instant gratification pleasures, at the expense of enjoying our lives. Companies know this well, so they prey on our need for instant gratification by satisfying that need, through the products they’re trying to sell. What you have to watch out for is overdoing things in pursuit of the next dopamine rush…because that is when it becomes actually destructive, and it diminishes our ability to feel happy and content with our lives.
So, what exactly is capable of hacking our minds? Sugar, digital technology, caffeine, drugs (from street drugs to weed) as well as prescription drugs, like antidepressants and pain pills. When you indulge in any of these, you hack your dopamine pathway, which is really like cheating your way to feeling better. Obviously, while this may make you feel better in the moment, this only hurts you in the long run, because you’re putting a Band-Aid over a bullet hole. It’s like the acne drug, Accutane. Sure, you can take it, but it’s never going to address the root of the cause, which could be a leaky gut, hormone imbalance, eating the wrong foods and/or using the wrong products. Still, thousands and thousands of people sign their life away in order to be able to get this drug. It takes an intense toll on your body, and then your skin clears up for a little…but then, a year or two later, it starts to break out again….and then, like many Accutane users report, they’ve got to go back on the medication. It’s the same concept – you can’t just try a short-term solution – you have to deal with the problem, not the symptoms that arise out of the said problem.
Another hugely popular stimulant, especially among young men, are video games and pornography. And it’s no wonder, considering they both offer a massive dopamine payoff that seems to be almost perfectly tailored to the male biological drive to “master one’s environment.” Research does suggest that playing video games can offer some positive benefits in terms of brain function because it prompts the user to build certain skills and make decisions quickly. But, ultimately, too much screen time, as well as reacting to, and engaging with an artificial environment, is never going to anyone any favors. Rather, you get a numbed mind, and a (temporary) soother for whatever it is you’re trying to ignore.
Chronic exercise is probably one thing you didn’t expect to see on this list, but it is a serious issue many people deal with. Unfortunately, people can become addicted to the high they get from working out. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn: how to appropriately balance stress and rest. Of course exercise is healthy, but be careful of crossing that line: when you start to make unhealthy decisions and push your body too far in pursuit of that next dopamine hit, that is when you know you’ve run into trouble: when you’ll do anything to get that high, no matter the consequences.
Obviously, we can’t talk about this issue without mentioning social media, one of the biggest culprits here. The problem with social media is that you can’t pick and choose what comes into your orbit – you go on Facebook or Instagram with the intention of reaching out to one specific person, but then you’re bombarded by all this reactive stimulus. This problem has become even worse considering how prevalent ads are on social media apps these days.
Are you familiar with the term neuro-marketing? Basically, corporate America has essentially imprisoned us in a loop of endless desire and suffering, with no obvious escape out of this destructive cycle. And why would they want us to escape? That would mean they can’t continue making more money – which is why these corporations exist in the first place. I won’t be calling out any specific brands, but think about all the packaged foods you see every day in grocery stores, the pre-prepared food that you know is filled with bad oils and tons of sugar. It’s not like companies think their product is healthy – quite the opposite, in fact. They just don’t care.
There’s a reason why Americans are so plagued by cognitive diseases. Did you know that all cognitive diseases are marked by dysfunctional glucose metabolism? That’s why Alzheimer’s and dementia are also considered to be “Type III diabetes.” When anyone experiences cognitive decline, it’s a huge load placed on the person suffering from the diseases as well as their family members. You would think that these companies, knowing what their “food” does to human health, would be ashamed and embarrassed to produce such a product. But not in America, where profit is the #1 driving force behind everything! And hey, making (and keeping) people sick means that pharmaceutical companies can extract even more money out of sick people!
On the bright side, smoking rates have decreased as wellness and healthy eating have gained more and more popularity in the states. But the bad side is, in turn, tobacco and soda and soft drink companies have switched their focus to pushing their capitalist agenda on smaller, less developed countries. Real nice!
Once you become aware of the ways that corporate America tries to insidiously hack both your mind and your bank account, you can take some of your power back. Knowledge is power, and this show will open your eyes and your mind to the bigger picture, and empower you to take a personal stand against all the American companies that are trying to give you your next dopamine rush, all so you’ll buy into what they’re selling. Remember the power you hold as the consumer (or as one who doesn’t consume!). And it’s not just consuming anything tangible or physical – it’s also about being hyper-vigilant about what comes into your space and into your mind, especially since what affects the mind manifests in the body as well. Once you know how certain stimuli affect your body, you can decide what you’re going to do about it, instead of just passively reacting to it.
American corporations are trying to hijack our dopamine pathways to make profit [6:50].
Hacking your dopamine pathway can affect long-term healing[12:00].
Shopping is just an innocuous activity, but part of the capitalist cycle [16:38].
How corporations use neuro-marketing against you [21:27].
The difference between pleasure and happiness [25:55].
According to Dr. Sinha, FOMO actually has metabolic consequences on your health [30:24].
Marketing hype will make you purchase things you don’t even need [36:00].
“If you want to cure depression, try something you suck at and try to get better [41:00].
Nothing makes you feel better than contributing and volunteering [43:20].
Why talking while driving is more dangerous than listening to music while driving [46:50].
How to get yourself out of the domaine-trigger trap [50:20].
- The Hacking of the American Mind by Dr. Robert H. Lustig
- Prevent Tech From Hijacking Your Mind Get Over Yourself episode
- “Cooking is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” – Dr. Robert Lustig
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3