Brain & Mind Modern Lifestyle

Happiness and hookah bar

I am noticing a worrisome proliferation of hookah-bars in Ahmedabad, so I see a dire need to point out dangers of not only hookah-bars but also happiness through gratification.

If you are a parent of a young kid frequenting these bars, be aware that hookah is just another form of abusing human brain using nicotine. These bars are more dangerous because some of them are owned by goons-turned-loan sharks who initially extend credit to ensure addiction in a kid and then demand exorbitant interest from the trapped kid that often force him/her to turn to crime.

Thankfully, Gujarat Police is working hard to curb this nuisance before it can ruin more lives, but it is also important that parents intervene before it is too late.

Hookah-bars are popular for a simple reason. They make people feel good. So, why should there be a problem?

The problem is, feeling good is not exactly what we imagine it to be. If you are life-has-a-higher-purpose type, it may be uncomfortable to accept, but biological reality is, feeling good is not the objective of brain or life.

Brain is actually designed to cater to survival and procreation only. Happiness is just a by-product that has evolved because brain needed a tool to habituate itself to do things that improve the chances of survival and procreation. Feeling good is just a motivational biscuit that brain feeds itself to encourage useful behavior.

Hookah-bar makes you feel good because it is a potent mix of social interactions and nicotine. As social interactions and bond-forming helps enormously in improving chances of survival and mate-finding, our brain has evolved a strong liking for them and thus it encourages such behavior by releasing reward chemicals. This primordial mechanism is further consolidated by presence of nicotine, a molecule that short-circuits brain’s reward circuits. This makes a hookah bar nearly as addictive as any narcotic substance.

This is not a unique phenomenon as we are encountering the same problem in different forms. Be it glucose-rich food or pornography or drugs, gratification is hijacking the brain and altering human behavior. We are now a generation of addicts, who are enslaved to the mechanism of feeling good, and are trapped in thinking that happiness is purpose of life.

As we move on, technology is opening up more and more avenues that increase our ability to switch-on happiness-circuits at will, and making us happiness-zombies that see no need to acknowledge the central theme of survival that drives all life on earth.

The bitter truth is, while we are playing this dangerous game of exploiting reward-circuits of brain, life on earth is still about survival and procreation. We are being foolish in assuming that technological-cocoon enveloping us has made us immune to the struggle of survival. We could be a species on the verge of extinction because we are employing the best tool that we evolved for surviving for gratification.

The only saving grace is emergence of scientific understanding of reality. Science is possibly the only tool that can help us reconnect with actual reality in which we are to survive. It is about time that time we replace our innate drive of what feels good with scientific understanding of what is good for us.

So, before getting tempted by happiness in any form, do check its impact on your body and brain, as they are the mediums through which you are living. Cognize that happiness is just a mean and not the end. Life is not about being happy all the time, it is about living and helping your DNA continue on this beautiful planet.

DNA: 11/12/16

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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