Serotonin Versus Dopamine: Happiness Versus Pleasure
I am not lying when I say my growth game is strong in sobriety. I sat stagnant with depression and anxiety for a steady 6 months when I gave up alcohol. I outright told people to stop lying about sunshine and rainbows that sobriety brings. A half a year later, I saw them. I saw rainbows figuratively and I literally saw one next to my dog's butt.
Why on earth did it take so long for me to feel good? Dopamine y'all. It's the chemical pleasure you get from alcohol. I was relying on dopamine to supply any good feelings for years with my consumption of alcohol. That is the short-term feel good chemical in your brain. It is mostly from things ingested like sugar, food and alcohol...and if you're really looking for a dopamine shot, heroin. Suddenly taking dopamine away from my brain in sobriety was one hell of a shock to my emotions. Dopamine produces pleasure. Not happiness. But, I didn't know the difference.
What did I need to regulate happiness? Serotonin. Serotonin is what produces good feelings long term. It is the chemical in your brain that levels you out in contentment and allows you to feel actual happiness not ingested pleasure.
One of the biggest problems over-drinkers have is not being able to decipher between pleasure and happiness. Perhaps it is because we had not experienced happiness before drinking? Maybe it is because alcohol is generally introduced during our pubescent unhappy teen years so we never get a chance at contentment before strawberry hill? In any case, we generally miss the memo that pleasure and happiness are different.
Pleasure is always temporary. Happiness and contentment is long-term. Pleasure is quickly obtained and quickly dissipated, but happiness takes patience to build. It is a constant mindful state of thinking and living. It takes work and time to build HEALTHY and HAPPY habits.
Mindfulness helped bring me out of the temporary pleasure cycle and into choosing happiness. I acknowledge every thought now. I use them to create how I perceive my world.
"Don't quit before the miracle happens..." Ugh. I used to hate that statement. It still urks me a bit. Yeah, still hate it.
I. Am. Such. A. Bitch. Sometimes. See, I am mindful of everything, even my bitchiness.