Why You Lack Motivation, but They Have It

Table of Contents

Why is it that some people seem to be addicted to things like work, exercise, and studying – while others are addicted to social media – minecraft – porn – and in some extreme cases, youtube self improvement videos?

About 2 years ago, I became OBSESSED with this question, when after years of being ‘extremely’ motivated, things suddenly flipped.

I went from waking up excited to train, working entire days, and winding down with healthy night rituals.

To showing up half-dead to training sessions, endlessly procrastinating work, and winding down with unhealthy night rituals.

I needed to figure out how to flip things back – so I spent weeks researching how motivation works, and experimenting with dramatic lifestyle changes,

And what I discovered has allowed me to now experience what now feels like endless motivation.

Now let’s cut the sh*t – I know what you’re thinking, given that I live in Colombia and you almost certainly have watched the 1st season of Narcos.

But how I fixed things wasn’t with that stuff – what I learned was actually way stronger, and to learn it, I had to solve 3 problems:

Problem 1: DOPAMINE (is NOT what you think it is)

Despite the seemingly infinite number of ‘dopamine detox’ videos on YouTube, most people STILL have no idea how dopamine really works.

Dopamine has EVERYTHING to do with motivation, and VERY LITTLE to do with making us feel good after we perform some sort of action.

Yes, our brain releases dopamine when we see that someone has liked one of our Instagram photos, but it releases WAY MORE dopamine in order to get us to pick up our phone and open instagram in the first place.

And yes our brain releases dopamine when  when we eat tasty food – but it releases WAY more dopamine to get us to do the things that GET US that tasty food.

and when we get a notification that our favorite content creator has just released a new video, because we are of course subscribed to his channel and have clicked the f*cking notification bell.

Our brain releases lots of dopamine to get us to CLICK on the notification so that we can get TO the reward.

So to say this all another way: dopamine release is the HIGHEST when our brain wants us to GET the reward …  and actually pretty low once we’ve gotten it.

Scientists discovered this when they performed an experiment to monitor dopamine release in monkeys:

A signal would come on which let the monkeys know that they could then pull on a lever 10 times to be rewarded with a banana.

The signal represented the ‘anticipation’ of the reward – the lever represented the ‘work’ to get the reward – and the reward (of course) was the banana.

As we can see here, dopamine release spiked RIGHT when the signal came on… BEFORE pulling the lever – and it DECREASED greatly by the time monkeys actually got their reward.

So if you understand ONE THING from this entire video – it should be that dopamine ISN’T just something that makes us feel good when we get a reward.

Dopamine is what CREATES the motivation to PURSUE the things we perceive as rewards in the first place… which brings us to:

Problem 2: DOPAMINE (can’t distinguish between “good” and “bad” rewards)

Human evolution  spans approximately 6 million years – and for 99.999% of that time, there were no ‘bad’ rewards.

Candy bars were only invented about 175 years agothe white stuff I mentioned at the beginning of this video came shortly afterthe first mainstream porn is less than 50 years old – Tik Tok is only 6 years old

Our dopamine reward system doesn’t see fast food as unhealthy garbage – it just sees it as lots of calories, which was important when you consider that for 99.999% of our evolution, we didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from.

Dopamine doesn’t see social media as a… false reality  – it only sees potentially valuable information and social interactions.

And Dopamine doesn’t see porn as unhealthy garbage – it only sees human reproduction; the PRIMARY biological imperative of our species.

And so if we want to redirect our motivation AWAY from these ‘bad’ rewards’ and back towards life-enhancing action, we need to understand.

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Problem 3: SOCIETY (Makes us more Emotional, and less Rational)

What’s the ONE thing all of these modern ‘bad rewards’ have in common?

Seriously – I’m giving you 5 seconds – try to figure this one out for yourself… has something to do with how quickly they gratify us…

Ok time’s up – If you answered ‘they all release tons of dopamine to make us feel good’ … then, you are a f*cking idiot.

The correct answer is:  all ‘bad’ rewards provide INSTANT gratification

So why is that relevant? And what does that have to do with emotions and Rationality?

Well I’m glad you asked, because in my favorite study on the subject, Princeton University observed that there are two areas of the brain – one for emotions, and the other for rationality.

And the emotional part of our brains LOVE instant gratification –

So when faced with the choice of j*rking off, (while possibly high on c*caine) which can make us feel good RIGHT NOW, or doing difficult work that will make us feel good in the long term.

There’s actually a small ‘battle’ that happens between the emotional and rational parts of our brain.

And when we give into instant gratification, it’s because we’re letting the emotional part win – 

which makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Instant gratification makes us FEEL good, right now – which means every time we eat something we know we shouldn’t, or procrastinate, we’re making an EMOTIONAL decision at the cost of a rational one.

This is also why the WEAKEST people tend to be those who are highly emotional…  those who value how things make them feel over how things really are.

And THIS is how you end up being a mindless slave of the system – because to control you, all the system needs to do is use your emotions against you – But I digress…

So now that we understand the 3 problems – we should see that they actually form a toxic ‘cycle’:

Dopamine motivates us to pursue rewards → but it can’t distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ rewards’ → we end up making ‘emotional’ decisions in the pursuit of instantly gratifying ‘bad’ rewards → and the cycle repeats itself over and over.

The moment I was TRULY able to understand this cycle, was the moment I was able to understand:

The Solution

So 2 years ago, when I became obsessed with understanding how I could FLIP my motivation away from life-wasting actions and towards life-enhancing ones.

Here’s what I discovered that has allowed me to restore the seemingly limitless motivation levels I’m now once again enjoying.

The first thing I did after learning how dopamine is actually the thing that motivates us towards rewards, and we make decisions either with the emotional or rational side of our brains –

The first thing I did was get angry… furious actually… at the fact I had allowed myself to fall victim to all of the fake reward-simulation b*llshit that the system uses to perpetuate it’s control over us.

So that’s when I stopped using Facebook, restricted everything else on my phone using an appblocker, and just overall made it a point to limit as best I could all forms of instant-gratification type mindless consumption.

Then I started working to help my rational brain win more battles by trying to REALLY be ‘present’ when I was making a decision between what was going to make me feel good now versus what was going to make me feel good in the long-run.

Meditation was REALLY helpful here, as being more ‘present’ allowed me to ‘snap out of it’ quicker whenever I procrastinated, or was about to do something I shouldn’t do.

And then the final part of what I did – and possibly the most important part – I had to re-imagine who my ‘ideal self’ was, in a way that was far less…  ‘realistic’.

A big part of the reason I lost my motivation like I did was because I had actually become my ideal self, which should never f*cking happen.

Our ‘ideal self’ should represent as FAR as we are able to dream.. BEYOND what we’re able to dream:  it should represent ‘perfection’ –

But when you grow up thinking you’re going to be a f*cking loser you’re whole life, and you’re surrounded by people who, instead of supporting you, support the ‘idea’ they have of what you’re supposed to be…

Yeah, my ‘ideal’ self was much less than what it should have been – so I fixed it.

Now I’m motivated to train in the mornings not because learning to box is something I never thought i’d do, but because I want to win a national title here in Colombia-

I’m motivated to work not because I need to pay my bills, but because I want to master the art of business.

And I’m motivated to make these videos not just because I want to help the younger version of myself… but because… i feel an obligation to make these videos that I don’t yet understand, but I will someday understand.

So here’s what my new cycle looks like:

Dopamine motivates me to pursue rewards→ distinguish ‘good’ and ‘bad’ rewards based on my vision of an ideal self → make ‘rational’ decisions in the pursuit of ‘good’ rewards.

If you thought this video was helpful or opened your eyes to something, my channel represents the entire philosophy that’s helped me to do many amazing things – you can learn more by subscribing with notifications of course, or  checking out one of these videos over here-

Or head over to nelsonquest.com to grab a free copy of ‘Dark Mode’ – it will change your life.

This is the path – cia and cya in the next video.

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