This cartoon from has got to be one of my favourites. So accurate! The love of dopamine is the root of many evils, e.g. addiction to drugs and other things (habits). Our brains get tricked like this many times, and we become dependent on all sorts of things (alcohol, codeine, tramadol, marijuana, sex, etc.) for temporary pleasure; just for our neurones to release a bit more of dopamine (one of the brain chemicals that make us feel good).

Looking at this cartoon, my conscience is pricked. No, I have not been doing drugs, but lately, I have been complaining about how I want some things and can’t get them, as though I need things to be happy. I am being reminded now that happiness is inside me; I just have to let it out. I don’t need anything external to be happy.

Addictions always end in subtractions; so much subtraction that we have a negative balance; we become much less than we were before we got addicted. They also make us forget what is real, and we end up chasing shadows, just as brain in this cartoon was so delighted at the mention of “dopamine” that it forgot that dopamine that is eaten cannot even reach the brain, thanks to the barrier between blood and the brain.

And how about looking to other people for happiness? That may turn out to be the same as walking into a “heartquake” with your eyes wide open. People will always be people. What of being happy as long as life treats us right? Well, I wouldn’t advise that either. Life isn’t fair, so it won’t always treat you right. In the end, it’s up to you to decide to keep your head high, your heart joyful, and your eyes aglow with hope—whether it’s a glorious noon or a gloomy night; whether the sky is bright or you’re fighting your way through the rain. There is no pursuit of happiness because happiness is not interested in playing hide and seek with us. Besides, why would we want to pursue happiness when we can have joy?

David said, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”* That sounds crazy, but I reckon that it’s a wonderful thing; a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that is not dependent on the presence or absence of things. Let me leave you with these words of Kirk Franklin: “I don’t just want you to be happy, ’cause you’ve got to have something to be happy for. I want you to have joy; can’t nobody take that from you.”

*Psalm 4:7

©Olubola Alamu

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