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Increasing Hedonic Sensitivity

I once ate raw beef liver after fasting for 5 days. Raw beef liver is normally something that makes me gag because of its texture, but I didn’t mind this time. I enjoyed the liver more than a teenager enjoys TikTok videos because I was hungry.

Hunger is the best sauce. The degree to which we enjoy our food is proportional to how much our bodies desire it. I enjoy raw beef liver after fasting because I’m in a different state.

I call this hedonic sensitivity.

Similar to insulin sensitivity, which regulates blood sugar, hedonic sensitivity is what regulates enjoyment. High hedonic sensitivity means experiences are not only easier to enjoy but more enjoyable. After 5 days of fasting, I could have eaten almost anything and enjoyed it. Low hedonic sensitivity means experiences are less enjoyable. When I’m really full, I don’t even enjoy chocolate cake.

Since we all want to enjoy life, our goal should be to increase hedonic sensitivity. 

What produces high hedonic sensitivity? Disciplines like exercise, fasting and deliberate practice, which I call purposeful pain. When it comes to hedonic sensitivity, no pain, no gain.

Conversely, undisciplined indulgence puts us in a state of low hedonic sensitivity. Sugar, gambling, alcohol and porn all dull our senses. Repeated exposure means that larger doses are required to get pleasure out of them. In other words, cheap pleasures reduce our hedonic sensitivity.

We make deposits into our future joy through discipline. We borrow from our future joy through impulsive behavior. Hedonic sensitivity is how we can tell whether we are in surplus or deficit.

In other words, stay disciplined and hungry to make life taste better.

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