Dopamine Ratings

So people are starting to wonder, what is this Dopamine Rating thing referenced in some of the blog posts? It’s pretty intuitive, but I still should put a bit more structure to it, so that some consistency is reached when ranking various activities or events that trigger the happiness pathways. So I’ll put a little calculus rating system in place, very Boba-spreadsheet like, and try to follow this when proffering up a rating for things.

To start, a level 0 is pretty much just a normal “meh” kind of event. Doesn’t detract from or enhance the overall level of contentment for a given moment, so sort of one of those things we do just because, like brushing our teeth or taking a shower or whatever…

So, that sort of tells you that even getting a Dopamine Rating of +1 is a good thing! Maybe that would be like eating a store-bought chocolate chip cookie or something. Not great but not horrible, although there are lots of better dopamine triggers out there, if so inclined. Then it goes up to a max of +10 for things we normal folks can reach. I will still reserve the right to rank things as Level +11, though. (“These go to 11!” — go watch “This Is Spinal Tap” if you don’t get the cultural reference…) Things that hit a +11 would be something like getting the wave of the day at 10′-12′ Pipe or Teahupo’o, getting spat out of the barrel at the end, and having it show up on the Surfer.com or Surfline.com website as the front-page video afterwards… Or maybe heli-skiing some insane back-country peak covered in waist-deep powder, jumping off a 50-foot ledge, throwing in a helicopter spin on the way down, and skiing out of it. Or how about throwing down a RedBull Rampage run in Utah, top-to-bottom, hitting the hardest lines with the biggest ledge drops and gap jumps, throwing in a couple back-flips off a few of the kicker jumps for good measure. In other words, Level +11: not within reach of us mere mortals… (But we can dream!)

Can it go negative??? Of course! Let’s look at the worst-case scenario, again one that won’t happen to normal folks, rating at a -11. This would be something like hitting that RedBull Rampage line, crashing on the 50′ gap jump, breaking all the bones in your body, blowing up your spleen and one kidney, getting air-lifted out, then having all the friends and family you know and love dearly show up at the hospital, not to offer comfort, but to tell you that, actually, they don’t really like you much, and wanted to let you know they’re breaking off the relationship… Ouch… seriously, don’t wish this level on anyone.

Ya, then maybe a Dopamine Rating of -1 would be biting your cheek while eating that somewhat meh store-bought chocolate chip cookie, having to spit it out with a bit of blood, and then having kind of a sucky day as a result after that… In other words, the kind of thing that we all experience from time-to-time in our daily lives, but we pick ourselves up and keep going! Then between -1 and -10, it gets pretty much progressively worse, and are things we try to avoid, if at all possible…

Well, I was thinking of putting together a spreadsheet of -11 to +11, and showing examples, but after writing all this, don’t really feel like it anymore, so I’ll just leave it as is.