Last updated on November 27th, 2019 ~
Have you ever discovered a new idea that made you question everything about how you live your life? For me, learning about homeostasis was the most important topic that changed the course of my life. Homeostasis was the only concept that made something in my brain “click”, and finally pushed me to become motivated with ADHD.
By learning about homeostasis, I figured out how to take control of my ADHD brain, build discipline, get healthy, and generally live life on my own terms.
So, this article reveals everything that I’ve learned about homeostasis and motivation.
In this article, you will learn:
- What homeostasis is
- Why it’s absolutely crucial for people with ADHD to understand and conquer homeostasis
- How to build lasting motivation with ADHD using 5 simple steps
- The importance of teaching loved ones about homeostasis, and saving them years worth of unnecessary confusion
This is a life-altering topic that you’re going to love, so let’s start by covering the fundamentals of homeostasis…
What is homeostasis?
Homeostasis is a powerful biological drive that urges you to conserve energy, and remain in a constant state of equilibrium throughout your lifetime.
Your brain is hardwired to conserve energy, because your brain essentially still believes that you’re a caveman or cavewoman who has to conserve energy in order to survive.
Homeostasis makes sense when you think about it, because food was a scarce resource for thousands of years. Your ancestors had to hunt animals in order to survive, and they didn’t always know if food would be available to eat. This caused human beings to live in a constant state of scarcity…up until just a few hundred years ago.
So, your brain is still hardwired to preserve energy, be “lazy”, and stop you from doing the things that you know you should be doing. In many cases, your brain operates on autopilot and actively works against you, because it still thinks that you need to conserve energy in case you aren’t able to eat or drink for a number of days (among many other reasons).
This is obviously an extreme oversimplification. But, hopefully the picture is clear:
Your brain is designed for ancient times, which makes it an extremely poor match for the modern day environment.
Humans currently live in a period of abundance. Food is abundant. Clean water is abundant. Shelter is abundant. And, if you’re reading this article using a smartphone or laptop, then the majority of your basic needs are likely taken care of too.
However, your brain still hasn’t adapted to modern times. Your brain wants to stop you from exerting mental energy, because your brain is still hardwired for scarcity and survival. Not abundance.
Why it’s crucial for people with ADHD to understand homeostasis
When people with ADHD don’t properly take control of their ADHD symptoms, this generally puts them at a disadvantage.
But, when people with ADHD don’t understand the basics of homeostasis and how their brain works, this puts them at a major disadvantage in life.
Homeostasis is the most important concept for people with ADHD to understand. Because, if you aren’t familiar with homeostasis, then you’ll probably coast through life with ADHD and an unconscious desire to exert the least amount of mental energy in everything that you do. This is a recipe for disaster.
Building long-term motivation also works best when you understand a little bit about how your brain actually works.
So, here’s a brief breakdown of how you might want to think about homeostasis, and use your newfound knowledge of homeostasis to build lasting motivation with ADHD:
> Your brain wants to stop you from investing mental energy into the things that you want to accomplish, because your brain is convinced that it’s doing you a favor
> In reality, your brain isn’t doing you any favors by conserving mental energy, because energy and resources are abundant in the modern age
> You have to constantly push past your brain’s extreme inertia
> You have to freely exert your mental energy towards the goals or vision that you hope to achieve
> Rinse and repeat
In other words, it’s time to acknowledge that your brain can’t always be trusted, and then do something about it.
To be fair, your brain technically wants the best for you. Homeostasis has been necessary for the survival of the human race for thousands of years.
But in the modern age, homeostasis is almost certainly holding you back…
Especially when you have ADHD, and need to develop lasting motivation in order to get what you want out of life.
How to use your knowledge of homeostasis to build lasting motivation with ADHD
By now, you hopefully understand why homeostasis is such an important concept for people with ADHD to internalize.
But, you actually have to apply your knowledge of homeostasis to build lasting motivation with ADHD.
So, most importantly, keep in mind that 99% of the mental resistance that you feel on a daily basis is totally pointless in the modern era.
Your brain will always want you to conserve mental energy for the rest of your life. But, as you now know, you don’t need to conserve mental energy!
Building long-term motivation with ADHD is essentially a process of accepting mental pain as normal and pushing past it…over and over again.
The people who are truly motivated with ADHD have figured out that it’s OK to feel mental pain. Mental pain is just homeostasis telling you to stop what you’re doing, and get back to conserving energy.
In reality, the human brain and body is capable of withstanding tremendous amounts of stress, work, pain, and problems. So, even if you’re undergoing some extremely difficult life circumstances, always remember that humans are the most resilient organisms on Earth. Human beings can handle just about anything, push through problems, recover, and repeat.
Most of life’s challenges are psychological, and homeostasis plays a large role in stopping you from getting what you want.
Of course, many people with ADHD also deal with motivational issues related to having a lack of dopamine, poor regulation of attention, and similar problems that come with having ADHD.
But, out of all the tools that I’ve used to build lasting motivation in my life while dealing with ADHD, nothing has worked as well as mastering homeostasis and applying my knowledge of homeostasis to real life.
If you can just internalize the reality that homeostasis is annoying but conquerable, you’ll develop a major motivational advantage for the rest of your life.
5 steps that you can use to conquer homeostasis and ADHD
Conquering homeostasis and ADHD is a largely a process of staying persistent, and achieving small successes that help you gain momentum over time.
The following 5 steps are designed to get you in a persistent action-taking mindset for whatever challenges may lie ahead on your journey.
I use these 5 steps in my day-to-day life. So, I’m confident that they’ll work extremely well for you too…
Step 1. Accept mental pain as an ordinary and positive occurrence
Accepting mental pain as an ordinary and positive experience is a game-changer.
Before I understood that mental pain is just your brain’s natural method of resisting change – I could never figure out how people were able to push themselves so hard in order to achieve what they want.
Then, I started to embrace homeostasis and mental pain on a daily basis. And, that’s the point when I started to work through challenges rather than resist them. This was also the point when I made the most progress in life.
If you can just start to embrace the mental pain in everything that you do, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll see unbelievable improvements in all areas of your life.
Note: By encouraging you to “accept mental pain”, I’m specifically referring to temporary mental pains like those caused by homeostasis. For example, chatting with strangers, working on your business, and driving to the gym all involve certain thresholds of temporary mental pain. But, when you choose to push through productive mental pains such as these in the short-term, you’ll typically live a more enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle over the long-term. This almost always works out to be a fair trade-off for you.
Step 2. Find the right incentives
Is there something in your life that gets you excited to wake up every morning?
If not, then you have to do everything in your power to find anything that you can look forward to every day.
This is extremely, extremely important.
If you have ADHD, then you can search for what makes you hyperfocus, and simply do whatever makes you hyperfocus on a daily basis.
Or, you can just create small incentives in your life that keep you pushing forward over time.
For example, one of my closest friends always has a vacation planned at all times. It doesn’t matter if his vacation is planned 2 months or 10 months in advance. The guy is always traveling to new cities that keep him motivated.
The human brain responds to incentives. So, make sure that your life is filled with the right incentives that keep you motivated every day.
Step 3. Create powerful habits that build discipline
They say that “motivation is fleeting, but discipline is lasting.”
I tend to agree with this saying, because there are days when I definitely don’t feel like doing anything, but I’ll still force myself to work, go to the gym, write, and add value to the universe however else I can.
There’s nothing wrong with motivation. But, it’s more important to create powerful habits that lead to discipline.
Here are some examples of powerful habits that generally help people with ADHD build discipline:
- Take actions that revolve around the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule)
- Use a pomodoro timer when you work
- Have a dedicated space in your home that’s only for working (and nothing else)
- Get rid of energy vampires in your life (people who are overtly negative)
- Do work that pushes you closer to your life’s vision
- Stop sitting while you work (if possible)
- Exercise 4x to 5x per week
Obviously there are many other actions you can take that build discipline.
But surprisingly, you’ll get the best results when you eliminate bad habits from your life, before adding new habits to your daily routine.
For instance, many people with ADHD lack discipline because they spend a lot of time in negative environments, seek instant gratification (largely through social media), eat low-quality food, and procrastinate taking action.
However, when you take the time to eliminate these types of bad habits from your life, you’ll be left with plenty of room for positive habits that build discipline.
Step 4. Control your ADHD symptoms
Here we go.
This is the part where you have to get your ADHD symptoms under control in order to become a functioning (and motivated) member of society.
Well, first of all, don’t worry.
If your ADHD symptoms are out of control, you have a problem to deal with, but it isn’t the end of world.
ADHD symptoms can always be controlled and minimized.
I’ve personally achieved the best ADHD symptom relief in my life through a combination of ingredients and activities, such as…
- Using probiotics, ashwagandha and similar natural ADHD remedies
- Practicing meditation and deep breathing exercises
- Taking a light dose of high-quality ADHD medication
- Doing tons of exercise (strength training and cardio)
- Getting plenty of sunlight or vitamin D supplementation (extremely underrated for treating ADHD symptoms)
Overall, taking control of your ADHD is a long-term process, and that’s what this website is for.
ADHD Boss is a place where I share my ADHD journey with you.
So, you’ll definitely want to do everything that you can to take control of your ADHD, as you need to be in control of your brain in order to stay motivated over the long-term.
Step 5. Keep learning about the human brain, ADHD and psychology
The best way to stay motivated when you have ADHD is to learn as much as possible about how your own brain works.
There’s a reason why elite athletes claim that winning professional sports games is almost entirely a psychological process.
People who do awesome things in life generally know that life is a game that must be won in the mind first.
Once you get to know how your brain works at even just a basic level, you’ll see the world in an entirely new light.
For example, by understanding how your brain works, you will:
> Understand the power of deciding on an outcome that you want to achieve, burning the boats, and then setting out to achieve what you want.
> Discover why most people largely operate on “auto-pilot”, and repeatedly perform the same dismal actions without much thought
> Learn about all kinds of cognitive biases, irrational thought processes, and heuristics that cause you to form quick judgments about people and ideas
> Find out why most “obstacles” that you come across in life are actually limiting beliefs created by your own brain in an effort to keep you in scarcity
Keep learning about the human brain, ADHD and psychology, and you’ll understand that you’re largely responsible for creating your own motivation every single day.
The importance of teaching homeostasis to ADHD children, teens and college students
Even if you don’t have any close relatives with ADHD, this section of the article will still be relevant to you.
Because, if you can teach just one person about the immense power of homeostasis, there’s a good chance that you’ll change that person’s life forever.
I occasionally think about how different my life would have been if I’d learned about homeostasis at 12 years old rather than in my 20’s.
Learning about homeostasis is such a life-altering concept, that I recommend everyone with ADHD teach their friends and family members about homeostasis as early as possible.
Especially if you have children, teens or soon-to-be college students in your family.
By teaching younger relatives about homeostasis, you can help them:
- Earn better grades in school
- Get into a top college
- Play competitive sports at an elite level
- Develop awesome friendships
- Work great jobs
- Generally achieve anything that they want in life
The best part about homeostasis is that it’s a really simple concept at its most basic level.
Here’s a super simple summary of homeostasis that you can explain to younger family members:
Your brain wants you to be lazy, because your brain still thinks that you’re a caveman (or cavewoman) who needs to save energy. But, the truth is that you can accomplish anything that you want in life, as long as you’re willing to do the work. Never let your brain stop you from working hard.
Of course, you should feel free to explain homeostasis to people however you like. Explaining homeostasis in your own terms works great, too.
The most important thing is that you just spread the word about homeostasis, and help people overcome a major mental obstacle that all humans face.
Explaining homeostasis to even just one person who you care about can have a major impact on their entire life.
By the way, why isn’t homeostasis covered extensively in school or college? I have no idea why. There should be entire classes covering this topic alone!
Oh well. For now, you’ll just have to take education into your own hands, and help spread your wealth of knowledge however you can.
Before learning about homeostasis, I was lazy, unmotivated and confused as to why I had such a hard time building progress in most areas of my life.
After learning about homeostasis, I started to take responsibility for my lack of actions, and accept that I was the only person holding me back in life.
Don’t get me wrong…ADHD is an entirely separate beast that must be tamed as well.
But, my eventual willingness to control homeostasis is what has accounted for the vast majority of my successes in life so far.
Because, once you can push through temporary mental pain, and exert mental energy in a positive direction each day, you’ll actually begin to sleep very well at night knowing that you’re in control of your life.
Getting motivated with ADHD is all about conquering homeostasis, controlling ADHD symptoms, and moving in a direction that leads you to your destiny.
Very ordered and methodical breakdown on the topic. Thanks from an ADDer from myanmar.
Thank you for the comment David. It’s awesome to hear from another ADDer in Myanmar.
I would like to travel Southeast Asia soon, and I hope to spend some time in your country.
Nice article. About point 1: ‘Accept mental pain as an ordinary and positive occurrence’ – that reminds me of a judo saying: ‘welcome the throw’.
I.e. instead of just accepting something painful but worthwhile, we can try welcoming it as a positive. The same thing could apply to all growth and positive effort that feels ‘tough’ in the moment.
Thank you for your comment Matt.
Yup, martial arts are surprisingly useful for dealing with the pain of ordinary life.
It sounds like you “get it” and know all about the importance of taking action in the face of challenges.
Can you give some examples of what mental pain is. I think I know what it is but having some examples might help, what does it feel like? If we fight through it does the pain eventually go away or does the pain always stay there for people with ADD ?. Reading this article was the first time I heared of the idea of mental pain, and I think this has been my problem my whole life, I can finally give a name to the reason for my procrastination.
Hey Michael. That’s an awesome question.
Everyone deals with mental pain in life. It’s like your brain’s resistance to exerting energy.
Most white collar workers deal with mental pain because they’re using their brain a lot. You know, like writing documents, working with Microsoft Excel, sending e-mails, and taking care of business. Those individual processes are like bursts of mental pain (for most people, at least).
Procrastination is a little different because people with ADHD have issues with our dopamine function. So, we have advanced mental pain in a way. That’s probably what you’re feeling.
I think mental pain you are referring to is how i feel most days. Im anxious about dealing with things and try my best to avoid them until i have no choice and have to face them. I feel out of my depth. Is that what you mean by mental pain?
It’s tricky to pinpoint mental pain over the web Andromeda.
The natural state of biology wants you to resist making progress in almost all aspects of your life.
So almost everything is mental pain in some regards. A lot of people go through life feeling beaten down etc.
But winners find a way to persevere through the pain, and create strategies for making the most of life.
Close, but no Cigar. Have you read Walter B. Cannon’s Book ?
The good news is that, Children and Adults Dx’ed with ADHD are Perfectly Normal in every respect.
ADHD DSM 5 Behavior is completely mis-understood by all of the ‘so called’ experts.