You see… numbers get big, make brain feel good. You know what I mean?

For reasons that are, I’m sure, completely unfathomable to anyone who’s lived through the past year, I find myself interested recently in the brain chemistry behind productivity, motivation, and what people (who are wrong) describe as laziness. Why is it so easy to lie in bed and play an idle clicker or look at TikTok, but the idea of getting up to do things that are unarguably better and more fun feels insurmountable?

I know that clicky-numbers-make-big is a useless activity, but I do it anyway, especially when I’m burned out or stressed – so there must be a reason. I’m more interested in understanding why something is happening instead of judging myself for the symptoms, you know? And the more people share about their experiences with ADHD and depression, the more I – even though assumedly neurotypical – learn about my own brain.

I’m not a neuroscientist or a psychiatrist or even someone who thinks good most days, but I figure, pleasure is a biological imperative. Pleasure tells us that we did well, and should do that thing again for our continued survival. If you’re stressed and your brain is panicking because holy shit, how can we make this meat feel good again, it’ll prioritize anything that gives it immediate pleasure. So, the idea of complex actions that offer the promise of pleasure later, at the cost of a little more of our precious energy – like, oh, showering, or meal planning, or doing work – well, those feel WAY harder than they normally would. So, click click click.

You gotta feel good somehow. Realizing that has helped me feel a lot more empathy towards myself, and has helped me a lot in figuring out I basically need to do this to my brain in the mornings.

The more I think about it, the more I can identify plenty of things that have filled this need in my life: management games, to-do lists, Warcraft… heck, even cross-stitching has the same ‘I did it! I wanna do it again!’ reward pathways. I’m interested in what other people are doing! How are you finding small ways to trigger this feeling now that everything feels so hard?

(I know there’s no comments on this page – comment moderation is hard, y’all – but there’s Facebook and Twitter too!)