dr anna lembke quote

Monthly review – embracing boredom

embracing boredom

Late again! I had a big month in November with a new production run for Adapt Drinks and lots of orders, tastings and stockist outreach which kept me from writing up the review. As always, a review is something that is definitely better late than never!

My biggest lesson this month was that I need to make sure I have more time across the month when I am “bored”. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we should always have some entertainment or activity to occupy ourselves but there is great power in having to sit with our own thoughts, of letting our mind wander and through having to do boring tasks without the accompaniment of a podcast of chatting on the phone to a friend. As you will see in my book brief book review below, we live in a dopamine flooded world and it is not working well for us.

Read for a minimum of 15 minutes per day

Dopamine Nation Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By: Anna Lembke

Connection to goal – Cultivate routines to expand my knowledge and experiences – There is so much to learn from both fiction and non fiction books. I have a huge list of books that I have wanted to read for some time, so this year to help expand my knowledge I am committing to read more. My target for the year is to read 25 books.

Quote to connect to – “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” – Fran Lebowitz

November performance – During November I completed two books:

Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Dr Anna Lembke

I had been waiting for months for my reserve of Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Anna Lembke to be filled. I can see why it is a popular book. I really enjoyed reading it and found it to be an illuminating look at the dopamine-flooded world we live in and the impact this can have on us.

But herein lies the problem. Human beings, the ultimate seekers, have responded too well to the challenge of pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. As a result, we’ve transformed the world from a place of scarcity to a place of overwhelming abundance.

Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Dr Anna Lembke

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in a variety of important functions in the brain, including movement, motivation, and reward. It is produced by a number of different brain structures and is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. It is also involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, and in the development of addiction.

Lembke discusses the reciprocal relationship between pleasure and pain throughout the book and uses the analogy of a see-saw to help explain addictive behaviours. These behaviours are not limited to drugs but also include addictions to food, sex and smart phones.

“”Any prolonged or repeated departures from hedonic or affective neutrality….have a cost.” That cost is an after reaction that is opposite in value to the stimulus. Or as the old saying goes, What goes up, must come down.”

Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Dr Anna Lembke

The book shares stories of clients of Lembke’s and how they found themselves addicted to sex, alcohol, or in the author’s case, romance novels. Lembke offers insights into how we can find the delicate balance between pleasure and pain, and why now more than ever finding balance is essential.

There is a chapter in the book that is dedicated to the pain element and it explains why we feel so great after activities like cold exposure and hard exercise efforts. This tips our seesaw to the pain side and kicks in the opposite stimuli – pleasure once we stop it. Hence the runners high and how you feel amazing after an ice bath.

Understanding how our brain works and why we respond we do the way we do is such important information to have so we can better navigate the world we live in. It certainly made me reflect on where I spend my time and the absolute importance of having time when I am not stimulated by anything – not music, not podcasts, not caffeine, not people, nothing. I need to make sure there is plenty of time in my week where it is just me and I need to sit with that. I need to embrace boredom for the tonic it is in our dopamine nation. 4/5

Boredom is not just boring. It can also be terrifying. It forces us to come face-to-face with bigger questions of meaning and purpose. But boredom is also an opportunity for discovery and invention. It creates the space necessary for a new thought to form, without which we’re endlessly reacting to stimuli around us, rather than allowing ourselves to be within our lived experience.

Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Dr Anna Lembke

You can find Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence By Dr Anna Lembke here.

Running with the Kenyans – Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth By Adharanand Finn

After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world’s biggest races, from the Olympics to big city marathons, Runner’s World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover just what it was that made them so fast – and to see if he could keep up. His wife and two kids go with him from Devon, England to the small town of Iten, in Kenya, home to hundreds of the country’s best athletes.

Very often you hear people say it is genetics that set the Kenyan runners apart but after reading this book I agree with Finn that assuming their running ability is based predominantly on genetics sells the Kenyans very short. There are a number of other factors that caome into play:

  • Kenyan has a high altitude which can improve endurance and speed.
  • Many Kenya runners come from a background of poverty and are motivated to succeed in running as a way to improve their economic situation not only for themselves but for their family and whole community.
  • Running is a highly respected and celebrated activity in Kenya. This is a significant contrast to Australia where even when our marathoners set new Australian records, their efforts barely get any main stream media coverage.
  • The strong tradition of excellence in long-distance running is inspiring to up-and-coming runners and encourages them to pursue the sport.

To enjoy this book, I think you would definitely need some interest in running. If you like running, I would highly recommend reading it. You can find Running with the Kenyans – Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth By Adharanand Finn here. 3.5/5

Invest one hour a week learning about our First Nations Peoples

Connection to goal – Cultivate routines to expand my knowledge and experiences – Reconciliation NSW recommends learning and understanding more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ histories, Cultures, Languages, technology and land management techniques as educating yourself is the first step in the journey towards reconciliation. My knowledge and understanding are severely lacking and I want to change this.

Quote to connect to – “Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Willing is not enough; We must do.” – Bruce Lee

November performance – This month the highlights of what I watched/listened/read to were as follows:

Volunteer on a weekly basis

Connection to goal – Cultivate routines to expand my knowledge and experiences – Volunteering is an activity where you can be of service to others and learn so much from the experience. It has been some time since I have volunteered outside of schools etc and I want to get back into it for 2022.

Quote to connect to – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

November performance – As noted last month I will not be doing this for November or December.

Spend one hour a week planning and visiting new attractions

Connection to goal – Cultivate routines to expand my knowledge and experiences – There are so many great attractions and experiences in Melbourne both free and paid and when the kids were younger we used to visit them frequently. Since the kids have stopped wanting to do this, I have stopped going too. But there is no reason why I cannot go on my own or with Phil or with friends!

While I have allocated one hour per week, this can be averaged out across the month as my overall aim is to visit two new (to me) attractions per month.

Quote to connect to – “Fill your life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” Unknown

November performance – I had lots of birthday events in November so only had one big experience this month, luckily I did factor in Nov and Dec being busy personally so front loaded the year with more events and will still end up with my target average of two events per month:

  • Run the bay relay – with 3 other amazing women I ran in relay form from Port Melbourne to Sorrento. For those not familiar with these locations the run went from beach side Melbourne and journeyed out 100km to the Mornington Peninsula. I ran about 24km in total in wind, rain and up crazy hills but it was so much fun.

You can find my previous monthly reviews for 2022 here.

What was November like for you?

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