The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race

by Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long

The Molecule of More explores the scientific workings of a single molecule that drives our desire for knowledge, love, power, and more. It unravels the complexities of how this molecule influences your life, serving as a catalyst for creativity, ambition, addiction, and even despair. By gaining a deeper understanding of this molecule, you'll learn how to harness its power to enhance your life, moving beyond your current limitations and allowing you to pursue, control, and conquer the world beyond your immediate reach.

Summary Notes

The Importance of Love

Love is a powerful emotion that is deeply rooted in our biology and is essential for survival. It is not just a want, but a fundamental need that drives us to seek life's greatest prize.

Understanding love and predicting behavior associated with it requires an understanding of dopamine, a pleasure molecule that is released when people experience something unexpected or anticipate something good.

However, love can be fleeting. When you finally get what you want, that thrilling mystery of the unknown can quickly turn into the boring familiarity of the everyday. That's because dopamine's job is done, and the excitement of anticipation fades away.

According to researcher John Douglas Pettigrew, our brain divides the external world into two separate regions: the peripersonal and the extrapersonal. The brain works differently in each space, with dopamine released in response to anticipation and possibility in the extrapersonal space.

So, to keep that spark alive, you need to keep things exciting, adventurous, and full of possibilities. This ensures that your brain stays engaged in the extrapersonal space, and dopamine keeps flowing.

Actions to take

Dopamine: An Early-Warning System for Survival

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain that plays a crucial role in our survival. It's like an internal alarm system that helps us identify anything that could help us stay alive, such as food. And when dopamine is released, it creates a sense of excitement and desire, which encourages us to accumulate and possess anything that could help us survive.

Unfortunately, dopamine can be taken advantage of by addictive drugs, which can completely take over a person's life. These drugs stimulate dopamine release, regardless of the user's situation, confusing the brain and leading it to associate drug use with pretty much everything.

What's more, dopamine-boosting drugs can also lead to out-of-control behaviors, such as pathological gambling, hypersexuality, and compulsive shopping. It's essential to be aware of the potential risks of these drugs and seek help if necessary. The good news is that with the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.

For people struggling with addiction, identifying triggers such as specific people, places, or things can be helpful in avoiding relapse.

Actions to take

Balance Impulse and Reason

Making the best decisions requires a balance between impulse and reason. Impulse refers to our instinctive feelings, while reason is our logical thought process.

Sometimes we need to rely on our impulses to make quick decisions, but when it comes to important decisions, we also need to use our reasoning skills.

In achieving our goals, dopamine, a neurotransmitter, plays a key role. It operates via two circuits: the desire circuit, which triggers excitement and enthusiasm, and the control circuit, which empowers us to exert control over our environment.

We can leverage the energy from the desire circuit to develop plans and strategies to achieve our goals and desires. Meanwhile, the control circuit helps us envision the future and evaluate the potential consequences of our decisions, allowing us to make choices that lead to our desired outcome.

Furthermore, self-efficacy, or one's belief in their ability to succeed, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. A confident expectation of success can dissolve obstacles in front of us and propel us toward the future we want.

Actions to take

Connecting Creativity and Mental Illness

To think creatively, individuals must be able to break away from conventional thinking patterns and see the world from a fresh perspective. Often, creativity stems from tapping into one's subconscious, which can be achieved through dreaming. Interestingly, high levels of dopamine are associated with both creativity and mental illness.

Remarkably, some of the world's most renowned geniuses, such as Einstein, Newton, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, have been known to possess both extraordinary creative abilities and mental illness. It is believed that their heightened levels of dopamine may have played a significant role in their genius, as well as their struggles.

Actions to take

Combining Policy and Charity to Help the Poor

There are different ways to help the poor, such as through policy or charity. Liberals tend to advocate for policies that provide aid to those in need, whereas conservatives are more likely to donate to charitable causes.

Policy measures are great for making the most of available resources, but charity offers a more flexible and personal form of assistance. Interestingly, studies have found that people who are against government income redistribution to address inequality actually donate more to charity than those who support these policies.

When we make decisions, our desire and control dopamine circuits come into play. This is where political persuasion can really take hold, and things like fear, desire, and sympathy can be really effective in swaying independent voters.

Actions to take

Dopaminergic Genes

Stress can have a detrimental effect on health, and those who are more sensitive to it may have difficulty adapting to new environments. However, those with dopaminergic personalities are likely better equipped to handle novel situations. This is because certain alleles that aid in adjusting to unfamiliar environments have become increasingly prevalent in the population over time.

Interestingly, it has been found that immigration can lead to more innovation and entrepreneurship. One study showed that people with the more active form of the dopamine gene were almost twice as likely to start a new business. Dopamine can be a powerful force for progress, but it can also be dangerous if we forget about empathy and only focus on the potential rewards.

Actions to take

Finding Balance between Dopamine and H&N Neurotransmitters

The neurotransmitters dopamine and H&N have evolved to work together, often functioning in opposition to each other to maintain stability. However, in modern times, individuals are often driven to seek all dopamine, all the time, which can result in unproductive misery. Conversely, too much H&N can lead to happy indolence. To live a fulfilling life, a balance between the two must be achieved.

Actions to take

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