Why is developing self-discipline to study difficult?
We could spend hours playing video games or browsing social media on our phones. But what about half an hour of studying or working on pending office tasks? Uff. That might be too hard. But Why?
The answer is Dopamine.
Dopamine is often considered a pleasure molecule. But that’s not everything that it is. Dopamine is what makes us desire things. And it’s that desire that gives us the motivation to do things. The evolutionary aspect of the Dopamine, could be to motivate us to do things like eating, sleeping, mating etc. Things that are necessary to keep our species (Homosapiens) alive. It is based on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Through Natural Selection.
Effect of Dopamine – The rat experiment
So, as not to diminish the effect of dopamine on us, let us go through the famous experiment on rats – “pleasure electrodes”
The researchers implanted electrodes in the brains of rats. Whenever the rat pulled the lever, the rat would receive tiny jolts of current injected through electrodes implanted deep within their brains. Especially when this brain stimulation was targeted at certain areas (Brain’s reward system areas) of the brain, the rats would repeatedly press the lever — even up to 2000 times per hour.
The result was that the rats developed a craving to pull the lever. So much so that the rats would refuse to eat or even sleep. They would just keep pressing the lever until they would drop from exhaustion.
With social media becoming an integral part of our daily life, we are flooding our brains with large amounts of dopamine on a daily basis, without even knowing it.
Some examples of high dopamine behaviours include: scrolling through social media websites, playing video games, watching internet pornography, etc. Social media apps use techniques that encourage addictive behaviours.
Because of so much dopamine, releasing in our brains on a daily basis. We develop a dopamine tolerance. This results in us, not doing the things – things that don’t give much dopamine, regular day-to-day activities like studying, going to office, working on the project. So it’s much more difficult to motivate ourselves to do them. They feel monotonous and less motivating.
The solution (Discipline)
So what could we do to not become a slave of instant gratification?
The answer is simple that you must’ve heard or seen on social media – Social media detox. For 1 day in a week, try to not use your smartphone for browsing – Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
Instead of doing that:
Go for a walk, meditate, complete your pending assignments, reflect on your life and write down life goals.
The detox will be easier to practice if you’re self-disciplined. This is because, you will never always be motivated, you have to learn to be disciplined.
How to develop self-discipline ?
Willpower is like a muscle, it gets tired from overuse and requires food to replenish. And with the right practice, willpower can be strengthened just like any other muscle in the body.
It’s tempting to surrender to gratifications and forget our long term goals. But one should remember “Great things require great sacrifices.” Discipline & Hard work require strong will power. To enhance your will power, inculcate good habits in your lifestyle such as:
- Walk instead of using transport for short distances.
- Use stairs instead of lift.
- Have a healthy diet. Limit your sugar intake, take less sugar in your coffee, eat less junk food etc.
- Read business news or books on monotonous subjects like Economy, Environmental science etc.
- Spend time with nature. Go for a walk in the park or meditate when feeling exhausted. It will relax your mind.
- Set small goals and reward yourself for achieving those goals.
- Don’t resist your cravings, redirect them.
Stay regular. Perseverance is the key.