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Do you want to be happier, smarter, wealthier, better with people, or get more shit done? How about more creative and focused? Join the club. You might need some more dopamine for that. Here you’ll find how dopamine can make you more successful and my top ways to increase it…..So that you can KICK A$$.

Welcome to the field of personality hacking through biohacks!

The Birth of Personality Hacking


Have you ever gotten into trying to change your personality with mental hacks? By willing it enough? Been there. Done that. The result was a marked increase in neurosis and then anxiety.

I’m a strong believer that the self-help movement has only helped increase anxiety and neurosis.

I make it my business to not attempt to change anything about myself, even not interfering with my attempts to change myself. Self-help is like poison for me. It’s my kryptonite.

I believe you have to change your natural biological state and let nature take its course. This Zen attitude resonates with me and I am most comfortable with it.

Therefore, I’ve been engaged in an attempt to modulate my personality through biological manipulation.

I am naturally very introverted, but as a CEO of 2 companies, I have been forced to increase my extroverted self.

Once upon a time, I was able to lock myself in a room and speak to no one. But now I am forced to speak to various people most of the day, multi task, put out fires, and get distracted by various things that come up. These situations have forced me to become extroverted.

Also, in the past 4 months, I’ve been dating quite a bit, speaking with investors, and interviewing potential employees, so it’s been critical to ‘turn on’ my extroverted side for months at a time, or even permanently.

Dopamine and Personality – Joe’s Experience

Overall, the data supports that dopamine and its pathways increase social status and make you more social (R).

In general, it seems like increasing dopamine is a good idea before social situations.

I’ve subjectively noticed that increasing my dopamine makes me more social, funnier, confident – and attractive to women, as nerdy as that sounds.

You can say that dopamine is the success neurotransmitter.

My Top Dopamine Hacks

The main methods I use to increase dopamine are:

  1. Keeping inflammation low
  2. Exercise
  3. Sunlight by being outside and getting the morning sun
  4. Music
  5. Nicotine, in the form of Snus
  6. Pregnenolone

I also use various supplements that can be found here.

I think sunlight is critical to dopamine production and simply being happy, which is why I’ve structured the company so that even people who work in our home office can get outside. We have a rooftop office next to the coast in southern California so that people can work on and get light all day (since the weather is always moderate) or they can do it wherever they are working remotely (psss, we are hiring).

Read these great posts:

How Dopamine Can Make You More Successful

1) Dopamine Makes You More Social and Extroverted

Dopamine and its pathways are associated with extraversion (R).

Higher dopamine levels were associated with an extroverted personality in 16 male patients with depression (R).

Low dopamine D2/3 receptors (striatum) were associated with personal detachment, aloofness, and social phobia in healthy human volunteers (R).

Additionally, people with genes that cause increased dopamine activity are more extroverted.

People with an SNP associated with more DRD4 receptors – and therefore higher dopamine activity – had higher levels of extraversion. Specifically, the presence of the “C” allele in this SNP of the DRD4 gene (I have 1 C allele) (in carriers of the COMT A/A genotype – I have one A allele) showed high levels of extraversion and hypomania (R, R).

The C allele increases DRD4 gene expression by 40% compared to the T allele (R).

The “A” allele for this SNP (I have 1 A allele) in the DRD2 gene has been associated with a one-third reduction in D2-receptors. These people had significantly higher scores on trait Extraversion. Such individuals may be characterized by relatively higher Dopamine activity (as a result of receptor down-regulation) (R). These people may have higher pleasurable responses (via increased reward prediction error) (R).

2) Dopamine Makes You More ‘Alpha Male’

Blocking with drugs the dopamine D2 receptor in primates and mice lowered social dominance in high social class primates (R).

In one of these studies, D2 receptors increased by approximately 20% in monkeys that attained dominance but was unchanged in subordinates (R).

The D2 receptors can be changed by the environment, but only before a social structure is in place. In one study, the number of D2/3 receptors did not differ between the animals prior to the establishment of a social hierarchy, but once the social structure was established, the animals that became dominant developed higher D2/3 receptor activity (R).

However, one study found that the rearrangement of the social hierarchy, such that some previously subordinate monkeys became dominant (and some dominant became subordinate) did not produce significant differences in D2/3 receptor activity, suggesting that once established, it may become unchangeable by changing the social hierarchy (R).

3) Dopamine Increases Social Status (likely)

There is an association between higher D2/3 receptors (striatum) and social status in primates and humans (R).

4) Dopamine Increases Socioeconomic Status

Healthy people with higher socioeconomic status have more D2/D3 receptors in the brain (caudate and putamen) (R).

Socioeconomic status is determined by the Education score, the type of occupation (i.e., menial labor vs executives, professionals, large business owners) (R).

The more D2/D3 receptor availability, the higher the education people attained (R).

5) Dopamine Increases Social Support (perceived)

A similar correlation was seen with perceived social support and D2/3 receptor activity (dopamine binding) (R).

This was tested with a scale that assesses 3 sources of social support to the participant: from family, friends, and significant other.

6) Dopamine Increases Novelty Seeking

Dopamine promotes exploratory behavior in animals, which would be the human equivalent of traveling to new places (R).

High novelty seeking has generally been associated with lower D2 receptor activity (availability, subcortical), higher dopamine levels outside of the cell, and increased vulnerability to drug addiction (R).

Higher dopamine (measured indirectly by MAO levels) is associated with higher sensation seeking (R).

Serotonin counteracts the effects of dopamine, by reducing sensation/novelty seeking (R).

Studies of 130 subjects showed that women who genetically have more dopamine (carriers of the COMT A/A genotype vs G/G and G/A) also have a greater intensity of the novelty-seeking trait. People with A/A had novelty seeking score of 11.9 vs 8.7 for A/G and G/G (R).

7) Dopamine Decreases Drug Dependence

A number of studies have found that there is low D2/3  receptor activity (striatum) in humans with drug and alcohol addiction (R).

Compared to controls, cocaine abusers showed lower D2/D3 receptors availability in the caudate, putamen, and ventral striatum (R).

In monkeys and rodents, low D2/3 receptor activity predicted increased cocaine self-administration (R, R).

Dominant monkeys with more D2 receptors self-administered significantly less cocaine compared to subordinate animals.

Thus, it appears that the high D2 receptor levels “protected” the dominant monkeys from the reinforcing effects of cocaine which is consistent with data in animals and humans (RRRR).

Dopamine and Success

8) Dopamine Increases Motivation

dopamine and motovation

Dopamine is also known as the “motivation molecule”. It is responsible for intrinsic motivation and provides the motivational/internal drive to do things (RRR).

We do things because we find them rewarding. Dopamine is responsible for reward-seeking behavior (RR). It is the reward signal in the brain.

Activation of dopamine neurons results in good feeling/reward, while inactivation causes aversion (RR).

In animal experiments, high, moderate, and low concentrations of dopamine induce euphoric, seeking, and aversive states, respectively (R).

Dopamine increases exploration (R), and curiosity and interest are important components of intrinsic motivation (R).

Across different mammalian species, there is a linkage between dopamine and positive experiences associated with exploration, new learning, and interest in one’s environment (R).

People who often experience intrinsically motivated flow states in their daily activities have greater dopamine D2-receptor levels in specific brain regions (R).

On the other hand, low levels of dopamine make people and animals less likely to work for things. Dopamine blockade severely impairs effortful actions to obtain rewards (R).

9) Dopamine Helps with Memory and Learning

dopamine for memory and learning

Dopamine activity in the brain plays a big part in memory and learning (R), and it is essential for long-term memory storage and retrieval (R).

Dopamine signals important events. It helps you remember events that have motivational significance. This ensures that memories are relevant and accessible for future behavior (R).

Dopamine also plays an essential role in working memory. Working memory is the capacity to use information from short-term memory and use it to guide your own actions. Dopamine promotes nerve cell activity involved in working memory (R).

Serotonin also works with dopamine during memory formation. Activation of serotonin receptors can increase dopamine release in parts of the brain that are involved in cognition and memory formation (i.e., the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus) (R).

Dopamine release causes an individual to be motivated by certain stimuli. It can control and teach the individual different behaviors. Thus, it plays an important part during reward-driven learning (R).

10) Dopamine Increases Attention and Focus

Dopamine has a role in focus and attention (R).

Dopamine dysfunction in frontal lobes can cause a decline in attention or even attention deficit disorders like ADHD (R).

Moderate levels of dopamine (not too high or too low) improve the capacity of individuals to switch attention efficiently between tasks (R).

Furthermore, people with moderate levels of dopamine direct attention more efficiently to stimuli that are relevant to ongoing tasks (R).

11) Dopamine Increases Creativity

creativity and dopamine

Studies show that human creativity relies on dopamine. However, creativity is complex, and different aspects of creativity are affected by different dopaminergic systems (R).

Dopamine has first been associated with creativity after an observation that people with Parkinson’s develop artistic-like tendencies on dopaminergic therapy (RR).

A study shows that Parkinson’s disease patients treated with dopamine-increasing drugs show enhanced verbal and visual creativity (R).

Dopamine is involved in cognitive flexibility – one of the main components of creativity and creative thinking. Dopamine is also responsible for openness to new experiences, another factor associated with creativity (R).

In healthy people, creativity was positively correlated with gray matter in dopamine-rich regions of the brain (R).

Various aspects of creativity are related to SNPs in COMTDRD2, and DRD4 genes (RR).

An SNP in DRD2, rs1800497 T, is associated with reduced dopamine receptors in the brain. This allele was related to higher verbal creativity (R).

A polymorphism in DRD4 has a complex relationship with creativity. DRD4-7R is associated with impaired flexibility associated with low creativity. On the other hand, this allele is associated with higher novelty-seeking associated with greater flexibility and creativity (R).

Finally, the food we eat may affect the way we think (R). Creativity in convergent (“deep”)-thinking tasks is promoted by the food supplement L-Tyrosine, a biochemical precursor of dopamine (R).

12) Dopamine Can Decrease Inflammation Due to Th1 and Th17 Dominance

Dopamine is shown to interact with the immune system. Treatment with dopamine can decrease inflammation and have other therapeutic effects (R).

The dopamine D3 and D5 receptors are more inflammatory, while the D1, D2, and D4 receptors are more anti-inflammatory (R).

Although the immune effects are quite complex, overall, dopamine decreases inflammation. It reduces Th1 and Th17 dominance (R).

Low levels of dopamine would stimulate mainly the D3 receptor in T cells, favoring Th1-like responses and T cell activity. Moderate dopamine levels would stimulate the D5 receptor as well, inhibiting T cell function. All of these increase inflammation (R).

Overall, higher dopamine levels decrease T cell response and inflammation (R).

DRD1 signaling inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome. Inflammasomes are immune system receptors and sensors that induce inflammation in response to infections. DRD1 activation can potentially treat NLRP3-driven inflammation and diseases (R).

Higher levels of dopamine can help alleviate rheumatoid arthritisIBD, and lupus (R).


Q: Whats the connection between telling people to increase dopamine but then telling people the study associations are with more receptors?

A: It’s just easier to understand. When I say increasing dopamine, it just means to increase some part of the pathway, including increasing receptors.

It can get complex because if you have more D2 receptors, it can reduce the dopamine you have, but it functions better in specific ways.

The idea is the dopamine system in general is very important for success.

For example, light doesn’t increase dopamine, it increases the D2 receptor.

Q: These seem like weak dopamine increasers. Why not dl-phenylalanine, green tea, rhodiola, etc..?

They don’t seem to have as good of an effect for me.  Green tea/EGCG is not bad. My top hacks are simply a subjective list of what works for me.  The dopamine system is quite complex, so it requires more of a systems or big picture thinking.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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  • Messerschmitt

    What if your levels of dopamine are too high? Mine are through the roof; I would love to reduce them as much as healthy due to the negative effects. I also believe that supplemental D3 is very deleterious for someone like me. Do you know the connection? Maybe it has something to do with D2 receptors?

  • Kat

    Thanks for this Joe.

    I have high histamine/histmaine intolorence which leads to bi polar like reactions, a manic high then a crash with fatigue etc. I had always assumed the sweet spot – in between a high and crash – was when histamine levels were at the perfect level making me sharp, alert, happy and more social. Maybe however it’s lowered histamine not inhibiting dopamine?

  • Johnnatas

    All the items of your personal list to ‘hack dopamine system’ have tons of others effects on the body besides increasing dopamine. So, I don’t know why you’re attributing the ‘feel good’ effect of these items just to a increase of dopamine. This doesn’t make sense.

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