I saw this really interesting video on how Facebook and Twitter trigger us emotionally:
It reminded me of how we are all paid off by drugs. We are all addicted to dopamine and opioids.
According to a study of Australian consumers by San Francisco-based media-buying firm RadiumOne, social media usage is a dopamine gold mine. Every time we post, share, â€˜like, comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation, according to the study. We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing.
We have two systems within us: the dopamine system and the opioid system.
Wanting vs. liking â€” According to researcher Kent Berridge, these two systems, the "wanting" (dopamine) and the "liking" (opioid) are complementary. The wanting system propels you to action and the liking system makes you feel satisfied and therefore pause your seeking.
The dopamine system is stronger than the opioid system. Wanting things is more of a benefit in our evolution than just sitting around liking things.
We get dopamine hits for all kinds of things: hugs, Chipotle, Amazon, cookies, coffee.
Have you ever noticed how exciting it is to open a box from Amazon? That's dopamine zinging through your brain.
As we find ourselves judging drug addicts, we would do well to remind ourselves occasionally that we are all drug addicts. Caffeine, potato chips, cake, cigarettes, exercise, sex... and anything that hits our dopamine and opioid receptors.
I'm setting up this article this way for two reasons.
The first is to continue to try to soften our exoskeleton of judgment we have for people we don't understand yet are more like ourselves than we might imagine.
The second is to tell you why I do good things.
Yesterday I was helping a woman with some bail bond stuff. In order for her to not go to jail she had to go to this office all the way across town. She didn't have a bus pass and she didn't want to walk the 4 miles to the appointment in the cold. So I drove her there. Truth be told, I wanted to get some decompression time from the center (it gets pretty intense there at times) and I enjoy her company. So, "helping" her with this task was a no brainer.
She told me 3 times: "I want you to know you are a truly good person."
She wanted me to really hear it. That's why she told it to me over and over again.
"You know I get more out of this than you're getting out of it," I told her in return.
"I only do good things because it feels good," I said.
I went on, "in fact, some people might feel like they did their good deed for the day by picking up a piece of trash. I need to do more and more just to get the same feeling."
"It's like heroin for me," I said.
"I need more and more of it."
This is why I'm now going into the woods, abandoned houses and drug houses now. I need to do my work in these riskier locations. I'm finding people that don't leave their self-created shelter. They are starving and dehydrated and freezing out there because they won't come out. The only way you can help them is to go to them.
But these people are REALLY untrustworthy of strangers. You have be careful going into these spaces. Not only are the buildings they are living in dangerous, you don't really know who is going to be in there.
But I need it. I want it.
I'm calling it God, these days. "God is telling me to do this work."
It could just as easily be dopamine and opioids surging through my body as I do this work.
Or maybe that's actually how God talks to us: through surges in chemicals in our brains.
I'm telling you this for one specific reason: I am just a guy.
I'm not a god. I'm not a saint. I'm not some life-long do gooder.
I'm a person with an addictive personality that needs paid off.
I remember watching a Dr. Phil show when I was quitting drinking. He said that we need to replace less socially acceptable behaviors with more socially acceptable behaviors.
That's why I ran 3 marathons. That's why I bought the building that currently has our day center for the houseless. That's why I travel. That's why I ran for mayor.
And now that's why I work with houseless people.
I never lost my desire for addiction. I just am putting other more socially acceptable behaviors in the place of drinking 3 pots of coffee, binge drinking a case of beer and smoking 2 packs a cigarettes every day.
I'm a guy that goes hard. It's just who I am.
It's important for me to tell you these things because I sometimes think that we give up doing good things because only anointed people do good things.
"Sure Jesus was awesome and all. But he's an actual God. I'm just a lowly person."
I am here to tell you that the reason you do good things is irrelevant. All that matters is that you do good things. Your motivation does not matter. It's the outcome that counts.
On top of all this addictive personality stuff I carry around with me, you should also know that I am driven to do this work not out of some sort of altruistic idealism. I want to matter.
It's hard for me to admit the selfishness of that statement. I would actually rather tell you I was a raging alcoholic than admit that I'm just some self-centered, arrogant egotist.
But it's the truth. When I'm kicked off of Earth, like we all one day will be, I want my life to have mattered. I would like someone to say, "ya know, we should put a plaque on one of those benches in the park with Sage's name on it."
It's embarrassing for me to admit this. But I think it's important for you to know.
I'm here to tell you: Helping is addictive. Helping feels good. Helping helps you more than it helps the person, place or thing you are helping.
We absolutely cannot rely on our governments, businesses or churches to fix the problems of the world. It's individual people that change the world. Not organizations.
I see it every day. Kids, families, parents, women, men... all coming to help the houseless on their own. I know how hard it is to walk into a place that is unfamiliar that is filled with people who have been given a bad rap by society, such as the houseless have been stigmatized.
It's YOU that changes the world. Stop looking around for someone else to do it. YOU do it.
But my recommendation is this: don't do anything because you feel like you "should" do it. Only do what you want to do. That's how you know you are on the right path. Help who or what ever you want to help. I guarantee you are going to love it.