When you’ve caught the surfing bug, it seems all you can think about is surfing, even while you’re – well – surfing. All surfers will tell you that surfing is one of the most addictive activities in the world, and they’re always thinking about the next big wave.
Turns out, there is a scientific reason behind that feeling, so read on to find out what science has to say about your surfing addiction.
Surfing fulfills your basic human needs
The psychology of human needs states that six core emotional needs drive our behavior. These needs are certainty, significance, variety, growth, love, and contribution, and when someone has something in their life that fulfills and stimulates three or more of these basic needs, this activity is prime for addiction.
While addiction is typically seen as something negative, in this case, surfing manifests as a positive addiction, as you are doing an activity that benefits yourself, and can ultimately help others. One of the best things about surfing is that it has created a community of people who took their love for the ocean and translated it into real-world action and foundations dedicated to preserving and protecting nature.
One of the best examples of this is the organization created by professional surfer Dave Rastovich, Surfers for Cetaceans. The organization has brought together a global surfing community dedicated to creating initiatives to saving our oceans.
Surfing helps your day to day life
Surfing releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in our brain that plays a vital role in the motivational and reward systems. You experience this dopamine rush when you feel the euphoria of scoring that massive and fast wave you’d never thought you’d encounter, or from the excitement of overcoming your fears. The rush of dopamine will mean an increase in confidence, which prepares you for the daily challenges of everyday life.
Surfing rewards your brain
Surfing has unexpected rewards, which, according to the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, are more powerful when it comes to driving behavior. The thing about surfing is that you can’t go out surfing anytime you want. There are lots of things that need to come together before you can reward yourself with a surfing session, including getting time off work, the swell, and wind conditions.
When you’re waiting for everything to come together, your brain will release dopamine as it anticipates your next chance to catch a wave. This release of dopamine is addictive, so that means you will have obsessive thoughts about the upcoming reward of a surfing session. And once you’re out on the water, you’re elated, and you feel more relaxed, friendlier and happier after catching some waves.
The serotonin, adrenaline, and endorphins that flood your brain when you’re surfing in combination with the dopamine that comes from the unexpected reward will leave you wanting more.
In the long run, this surfing addiction makes you a more well-rounded person, able to make better connections with other people and the environment. Surfing will help you make yourself – and the world around you – that much better, so surf away!