We’re all users of feel-good stimuli. Whether it be the more obvious choice of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or drugs — or the less thought about feel-good kick we get from sugar, chocolate or caffeine. Either way, when we indulge, our brain rewards us with a dose of feel-good chemicals that keeps us coming back for more.
Many suffer from addiction, but we’re all addicts when it comes to our pleasure reward system. Just pleasure-seeking junkies — Constantly in pursuit of our next feel-good High!
REWARDING POSITIVE BEHAVIOR
Our human brain has evolved to reward us when we are feeling pleasure and not pain. A short-lived rush of “Feel-Good” biochemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin induced by the Brain. A reward system that’s inherent to all Humans. For the survival and continuation of our species.
Yet, what triggers the release of these pleasure chemicals can be vast and wide-ranging. From a small kick when taking a walk in nature or simply petting our dog — to a more powerful high, induced artificially.
From the climax of orgasm to helping someone in need it’s our inherent reward system that gives us the sensation of pleasure. A counter balance to pain. A reward, for positive species behavior.
In much the same way that we train our dog, rewarding it with a treat or verbally showering it with praise, our brain’s reward system does the same for us. Only for us, our reward is a dose of feel-good chemicals. However, the intentions are the same — positive reinforcement and incentive to repeat a job well done.
A reward for our good human behavior!
Now who’s the good human?… You are!… Yes you are!
So when these bursts of chemicals occur, this is our brain telling us feeling good is prevalent to feeling bad and important to our overall survival. Much like how the pleasures of sex rewards us for attempting reproduction. Or how sating our desires for sweets and fatty foods give us a chemical tingle, rewarding us for stocking calories in anticipation of leaner times.
Of course these are our most primitive needs being rewarded. Primal instincts of long ago. Things have changed drastically since then. For most of us today, both sex and high-calorie foods are overabundant in our modern world. No longer primal needs, now instead readily available sources of pleasurable indulgence.
Instant gratification at our fingertips.
And herein lies the problem of a still functioning ancient reward system in modern times. We’ve moved on! No longer in need of feel-good rewards for eating rich foods, having sex, or any other pleasures evolution once deemed necessary for our survival.
Yet as far as our inherent reward system is concerned — it’s business as usual.
ORIGINAL INTENT ABROGATED
Our pleasure reward system is an ongoing, naturally occurring biochemical function of the human brain. It has no consciousness, no concerns of limitations. It’s simply a repeatable function that has no awareness. Totally blind to the dangers of misuse, overuse, habit and addiction.
It is unable to differentiate between social positivity or personal preference, between atypical or perversion; just between good and bad feelings! And with less primal need of our reward system in modern times, humankind has taken advantage. Today, pleasure is sought out for its own sake. No longer a reward for a species well-being but used instead as personal entertainment or for self-gratification.
The pleasures of sex, once a reward for attempting procreation, is used today primarily for personal fulfillment. Pregnancy protection taking procreation out of the mix. If indeed our climatic reward system originated to further our species, we have long ago circumvented this original purpose.
This sexual turning, not only accepted today but promoted as entertainment in sex shops, porn sites and clandestine companion and dating services. Sex today in all its forms of deviancy, is now bought and sold as common commodities. Procreation no-longer its main intent.
Yet manipulation of our pleasure reward system is not current news. We’ve long-ago learned how to artificially recreate these pleasures even enhancing them with reality altering high’s. In our early days, it was with Alcohol, Tobacco, and chemical stimuli from mother natures own garden.
Then, as our chemical knowledge and technology grew, so too our artificial dependencies. With mass production of marijuana, cocaine, heroine, oxycontin and on and on. Now we can not only kick our reward system into high drive — but whenever we so desire.
Perhaps the underlining consequences of misuse, overuse, addiction, even death may speak on this behalf. Maybe manipulating what nature and evolution has put in place, changing its original intent, is not such a good idea after all?
And that using our inherent reward system as a pleasure toy to sate our modern world’s ravenous appetite for instant gratification, is not only deviant use of what nature has provided — but is part and parcel of what is wrong with society as a whole today.
Take for instance our addiction to consumerism. Our seemingly insatiable desire for possessing material things. Man-made products and services mostly nonessential to our well-being, more a fulfillment of selfish trivial needs. It’s like we’ve become Pleasure-Seeking materialistic junkies, our addiction eagerly fed by the wealthy corporate pimps of advertising and giant retail.
These are the material reward system pleasure-pushers of our society. Marketers, advertisers and big-money retail giants. Pushing their products, using our pleasure system against us for their own monetary gains.
As we’ve seen, mere functionality is what drives our pleasure reward system. And tapping into our always available chemical rush for our own selfish needs, comes with ramifications. Meaning today, what we personally desire is no-longer necessarily what we need. Nor a guarantee of self-satisfaction!
Perhaps proving that too much of a good thing really can be bad. That fulfilling the same desire, over and over, lustfully and repetitively, can push our pleasure reward-system into hyper-drive! Into an endless looping of wanting and need for a specific source of pleasure.
Habit and addiction can produce intense cravings and desires that remain long after enjoyment of partaking has abated. And although addiction often leads to self-loathing, desire keeps bringing us back for more!
So our reward system uses desire to lure us in. Rewarding sex and rich meals with pleasure, does make evolutionary sense, yet what’s really crucial is that we desire them repetitively. That we desire primal needs, once deemed essential to the well-being of our species.
PLEASURE VS HAPPINESS
Perhaps the most misconstrued use of our reward system, is our constant chase of happiness. Struggling through the ups and downs of life in constant pursuit of this, our ultimate goal. In reality, a selfish goal, inherently programmed by evolution to be selfish, both for the safeguard and betterment of the individual and for the species as a whole.
Yet we all want to be happy, to lead fulfilling lives of contentment. To reach a stage of mental well-being and satisfaction and ride this state of mind, unending. Happiness has long been, humankind’s ultimate goal!
However in reality, happiness, like pleasure, is but a fleeting emotion. Neither of which are sustainable for any great length of time. Lasting happiness, more a misinterpreted causation of our pleasure reward-system, a false-link of perception — between short bursts of pleasure and an unsustainable state of mind.
Making the life-goal of perpetual happiness an illusion! A carrot on a stick, dangled elusively in front of our nose — yet forever out of reach.
Happiness is a human construct, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative affects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis. Humans are not designed to be happy, or even content.
Instead, we are designed primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world.
— Rafael Euba / humans aren’t designed to be happy so stop trying.
So just as our pleasurable high’s influence our desire’s, so too do our desires influence our concept of happiness. Falsely linking one with the other. Another trick of our ancient reward system, leading us to believe that our feel-good highs can be collectively amassed and sustained.
People are made happy by one thing and one thing only – pleasant sensations in their bodies. Short, non-lasting bursts, determined by a complex system of nerves, neurons, synapses and biochemistry. This and this alone produces our Happiness, in the form substances; Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin. — Yuval Harari
AN EVER-WANTING SPECIES
So what about your desires? Your life dream’s and goals? Would you be surprised perhaps even bitter that when and if you finally got there — that you then still wanted more? Remained unsatisfied and longing?
For you see, we really are insatiable pleasure-seeking junkies. Forever searching for our next feel-good high. An ever-wanting species, striving, then reaching goals, sating our desires along the way in an endless search that has no real ending. It’s simply who we are. How nature has made us!
Perhaps we should simply leave our reward system to those fleeting times of pleasure and accept them as they are. Not forbearance of want’s and desires linked to happiness — but simply a biochemical functionality for propagation and survival of a species. One without consciousness, indifferent to our overall happiness.
There lies a false-link between pleasure and happiness. One, which does not begot the other. Simply fleeting moments in time and neither long-term sustainable. A delusional perception, propagated by mass media, advertising and a pleasure reward-system long-misconstrued.
We are truly an endless wanting species. And evolutionary programmed to be so! Perhaps the sooner we realize this, the better our lives can be. For acceptance of who we are, changes everything. Changes our perception of our lives and the world we live in.
Happiness, as it turns out, is a delusional goal.
Perhaps Acceptance, the best we can do.
Acceptance with joy…
For the life we do have, and all of that which is in it!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?