What you need to know:
- For instance, watching a movie will be immediately pleasurable than investing quality time on a book to learn a new skill even if the latter has long-term benefits.
- Have a moment of solitude when you can write down your thoughts in a journal.
Like many young people, I find it easy to stay on my phone for hours, but struggle to put in just 30 minutes reading a book.
I read somewhere that this is caused by a chemical produced in the brain called dopamine.
Switch off the pleasure
This chemical, I learnt, is what drives and motivates us. I also learnt that the brain releases dopamine only if it anticipates that the activity will have an instant reward for the individual.
For instance, watching a movie will be immediately pleasurable than investing quality time on a book to learn a new skill even if the latter has long-term benefits.
This explains young people’s destructive guilty pleasures such as addiction to porn, drugs, binge drinking and other harmful behaviour.
Despite the addiction that comes with instant reward, I have noticed that there are people who, regardless of all this dopamine triggers, are able to resist the distractions and tackle the ‘boring’ but important tasks they set to do.
I am ever in awe of fitness enthusiasts and their tenacity. I have watched my grandmother read her Bible for hours on end without fidgeting.
I am not my grandmother, but I have learnt how I could be like her for my studies, and other goals that I intend to achieve in life.
While still a work in progress, this is how I have mastered this discipline. Identify all your guilty pleasures and triggers.
When you become aware of them, you are able to control them as opposed to them controlling you.
Uncomfortable as it may be, pick a day of the week where you put off all the addictive activities, and only pick those that you consider beneficial.
Allow yourself to be in your own thoughts, to be so bored that you will want to do something, and when that urge arises, you pick up a book and read.
Have a moment of solitude when you can write down your thoughts in a journal. This is how you learn to resist the pleasures.
At the end of a productive day, where you have participated in activities that are constructive for your life, reward yourself with a sensible pleasure like watching a movie.
Kevin Maina is a first-year communication and media student at Kenyatta University. Are you aged 10-20 and would like to be Nation’s young reporter? Email your 400-600-word article to [email protected]