be a dopamine queen – AllSwell Creative

be a dopamine queen

Posted by AllSwell Creative on

Hello, friend.

Hey, May. Welcome to Mental Health Awareness month. Instead of trying to tackle the entire gamut of mental health issues, l'm narrowing in one just one molecule for the entire month - but it's a complex and incredibly relevant one.


Welcome to AllSwell's deep dive on dopamine.


Dopamine is the chemical equivalent of unchecked capitalism, resulting in acquisition and conquest. It can distract us from enjoying what we have, instead pointing us towards the next, the new in a never-ending quest. That's where we get the hit. In the excellent book, "The Molecule of More," Dr. Daniel Lieberman and Michael E. Long write...

“From dopamine's point of view, having things is uninteresting. It's only getting things that matters... If you live in the most expensive mansion in the world, dopamine makes you want a castle on the moon. Dopamine has no standard for good, and seeks no finish line. The dopamine circuits in the brain can be stimulated only by the possibility of whatever is shiny and new, never mind how perfect things are at the moment.”

Basically, "I need a bigger yacht" is dopamine talking. Dopamine can derail us from what's actually beneficial, driving us instead to be reckless (in big and small ways) - to overspend, scroll endlessly, to overeat and gamble, and so on. It takes us out of the present. Metaphorically, we're planning how to score a reservation for dinner while we're eating (but hardly noticing) our beautiful lunch.

Why? It's part of a primal survival system. Dopamine helped us pay attention to sources of sustenance (berries in the bushes, for example), so we could earmark them as important. That was a time of scarcity, so it served our evolutionary impulse.

Today we are awash in options, but we are still neurologically triggered by every new "berry," and social media in particular has harnessed this dynamic to keep us wholly engaged. In this state we are a lot like Pac-Man chomping our way to the next pellet, then the next.

Dopamine isn't inherently bad. This "reward center" neurotransmitter can be a superstar - helping motor functions, our ability to focus and self-motivate, as well as stabilizing mood. All really good stuff. It's when dopamine levels are off-kilter that it can create significant challenges.




  1. How do you think dopamine controls you in less-than-ideal ways?
  2. Where do you see this dynamic show up in your daily behavior


Don't worry, I'm not going to leave you there! In an effort to not overwhelm you with data, next week I'll be providing strategies for proactively interacting with dopaminergic patterns. That's not intended to dangle a dopamine carrot. Just making sure I don't provide more information than is helpful to absorb in one sitting. In the meantime, feel free to check out our IG feed, which we'll be populating with related resources all month long.

Good things ahead...

In Swellness,



PS: Big thanks to psychiatrist Dr. Monisha Vasa for reviewing this content. It's important to me that AllSwell's offerings are not just well-intentioned but professionally vetted, as well.

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