There’s a reason books frequently take their references from science to self-improvement. You must first understand what makes your body and mind tick-your physical and mental operating system, so to speak-if you want to better yourself. You can then take charge of the device with that understanding in place, and make it function the way you want it to. That is what Dave Asprey, the author, tells us in the book, Game Changers.
“System” is the main word here. That’s singular, not the plural “systems.” The body and mind are interrelated facets of a single, overarching whole that is fundamentally embedded in the biology. By consciously manipulating the nature, you will put your body and mind to a better equilibrium with each other and with your objectives. Biohacking is just that, the game.
Before we dive into biohacking practicalities, let’s answer a more preliminary question first – why bother with biohacking in the first place?
Well, the short answer is that your body and mind’s operating system is outdated. It was built around the needs of our prehistoric ancestors, who evolved in a world much more hostile than ours – a world in which mere survival was their paramount objective. To bring your operating system up-to-date with the modern world and make it more in sync with your less survival-oriented, more higher-order goals, you need to upgrade it.
First you need to know what you are upgrading to do so. Nutshell, there are some default settings in your brain and your instinct is to obey them. These environments take care of your nervous system to keep you focused on the three essential factors for the survival of a species. We may name them the three Fs-terror, food and let’s name it “fornication” for the sake of politeness.
The three Fs constitute the most crucial aspects of biological survival. Want to avoid starving to death? Eat. Want to avoid going extinct? Reproduce. Want to avoid being killed by threats in your environment? Fight or flight – the two basic behavioral responses to fear.
It might not seem obvious, but many of our everyday behaviors and desires revolve around the three Fs. We spend much of our time chasing after power, money and physical attractiveness. Why? Largely because they help us secure safety, food and sexual partners.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of these things in and of itself. The issues come when we are dominated by certain things rather than the other way around. If left to their own devices our unconscious thoughts and behaviors will keep us trapped in bad habits, suppressing new thinking and inventive behaviors. In the meantime, our strong impulses to pursue protection, food and sex will lead us by the nose, leading us away from our objectives.
The point isn’t to renounce food, sex or safety. It’s to take control of our automatic thoughts and behaviors around them, putting our more rational selves in the driver’s seat. And that’s where biohacking comes into the picture. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of it, let’s address two important foundations for this project – your goals and your priorities, which we’ll look at in the next two blinks.
The concept behind biohacking is to maximize your ability to achieve your goals – but if you don’t know what your goals are in the first place, that’s very pointless! Here are a few suggestions to explain.
Firstly, describe your real life interests. Those are the things you want to do so much that you just feel excited to think about them. For example , take milliardaire Naveen Jain. He ‘s created seven internet and technology companies and is so excited about science that after just four hours of sleep he gets out of bed every morning, simply because he’s so keen to keep learning!
Try this simple, thought experiment to help you define your passions. Imagine becoming a billionaire with a wonderful family and a comfortable life at home. They take care of all of your essential needs and desires. What is it you are doing now? Whatever your responses are, these are your real interests – because you want to do them for your own sake, not as a way to make money or reach a certain purpose.
This takes us to the next strategy, which starts by distinguishing between goals of your means and goals of your end. Your ambitions of means are the things you want to do to achieve something important. For example, someone might want to get married so he can feel intimately connected to another human being.
Your end goals, in contrast, are things that you want to achieve for their own sake. These are the reasons you want to accomplish means goals in the first place, for example, the feeling of connection itself that motivates someone to get married. These end goals come in three basic flavors. The first is to have experiences, like waking up next to a loved one in bed every morning. The second is to achieve growth, for example by developing leadership skills. The third is to contribute to the world, such as building a unique company that has a positive impact on others.
When you’re planning your day, it’s crucial to remember your end goals. That’s because we have an unfortunate tendency to become overly fixated on means goals, like making money. When that happens, we lose sight of our end goals and stop working toward them, devoting all of our time and energy toward the means goals and forgetting why we wanted them in the first place.
Much like the money in your bank account, your time and energy are precious, finite resources, so you need to guard them and deploy them strategically. And one of the key ways to do that is to avoid one of the most common time and energy-depleting sinkholes: decision fatigue.
This phenomenon is the product of a plain, inconvenient fact-it is hard work to make decisions. First, you have to consider your options which needs brain power. You then have to agree to a decision that takes strength of will. You should think of the strength of will as a muscle. It gets slightly more worn out each time you exert it. Now you’ve made dozens , if not hundreds, of decisions by the end of each day, ranging from small ones, like which socks to wear, to major ones, like how to deliver bad news for a friend or colleague.
None of those decisions are necessarily overwhelming in and of themselves, but cumulatively they take a toll and leave you increasingly exhausted as the day progresses. That’s decision fatigue.
The best way to prevent this is to reduce the amount of choices that you have to make every day. And the best way to do that is to automate as many tasks as possible – especially those not directly applicable to your end goals. For example, you can automate your daily decisions about what outfit to wear by creating a capsule wardrobe which consists of just three or four neutrally colored pieces for each of the major categories of clothing: tops, bottoms, jackets and shoes. Now, you don’t have to waste your mental resources to find out the things fit. You can only throw one of them and head out the door.
In creating your capsule wardrobe, you’ll be taking a cue from Steve Jobs, who took this logic one step further. By adopting his signature black turtleneck and New Balance sneakers, he dispensed with his clothing choices altogether! You can apply a similar approach to other everyday tasks as well. For instance, creating a capsule diet. This is a collection of five or six healthy meals that you cycle through. That way, you can avoid having to make all the decisions involved in planning meals.
By automating your daily activities you will have more time , energy and determination to commit to your life’s higher goals. Thus you will be able to prioritize the latter – reserving your most valuable internal resources for your most important jobs, instead of squandering them on trivialities like which shirt to wear in the morning!
With your goals and objectives in place, by biohacking your mind and body, you are now able to follow these. How do you edit your default settings, thereby taking responsibility for the unconscious impulses centering around the three Fs we listed earlier?
To answer this question, let’s start with the most ordinary of the three Fs: food. The biological importance of this will come as no surprise since food literally provides the energy your mind and body need to operate at all, let alone at their peak performance. What may surprise you is just how important food can be to success. Out of all of the high-performance individuals the author interviewed, more than 75 percent of them said their diet was the most crucial factor behind their performance levels.
Our emphasis should not be too much on what to consume when considering our diet but rather on how to consume. The main point to consider here is that our modern approach to food is out of step with our true, biological needs. Psychological, is a major part of the issue. For a variety of reasons that we will explore more closely later, we experience a lack of energy, sleep, affection, connection and comfort in many aspects of our lives. We ‘re trying to fill it with food, rather than discussing this shortage directly.
“But wait a minute,” you might say. “I only eat when I’m hungry!” Well, sure – but here’s the thing: what you interpret as hunger is often just the sense of emptiness that comes from feeling this lack we mentioned earlier. So yes, you’re “hungry,” but often in a deeper, more psychological sense. People turn to food as a substitute for the things that would really nourish them and satiate their inner hunger, such as a loving relationship.
That is part of a broader emotional eating epidemic. This is why we generally look for food why we feel sad , depressed, frustrated, bored, or even happy. If you’ve ever dipped into an ice cream carton while feeling sad, or treated yourself to a celebratory snack after having something done, then you’ve experienced emotional eating firsthand.
The feeling of hunger should act as an inner barometer which tells your mind when your body needs food. Unfortunately, emotional eating causes the barometer to go haywire, leading to overeating.
That’s especially problematic in today’s world. We’re surrounded by all sorts of junk food and unhealthy attitudes toward food, such as large portion sizes and snacking throughout the day.
To take control of your diet, you need to recalibrate your hunger barometer. The first step is to start identifying the false signals it’s sending you.
When you find yourself feeling hungry, you can ask yourself a few questions. For example, am I actually hungry, or am I really just feeling bored, stressed, lonely or some other emotion I’m misinterpreting as hunger? Could it truly just be a coincidence that I happen to feel hungry right after someone has upset me?
Of course, correlation does not always imply causation, but if there is a clear trend of similarities between your hunger and certain emotional factors, then there is a reason to doubt that hunger. You should look for any telltale emotional eating symptoms too. Can involve intense hunger bursts, cravings for certain foods or constant feelings of hunger long after eating is over. But bear in mind that these symptoms can also be symptomatic of your diet issues. What kind of issues? Well, our toxic western diets deliver a wide variety of potential culprits, from too much trans fat to too little protein.
To recalibrate your diet alongside your hunger-barometer, you can follow this simple rule of thumb: eat like your grandma. Assuming she was alive before World War II, she probably ate a much healthier diet than you do now. That’s because she lived in the last chapter of human history that preceded the rise of the modern food industry.
What did grandma eat? Lots of vegetables, plenty of protein-rich foods and a daily tablespoon of fish oil. That way, she got the polyphenol compounds her body’s cells needed to stay energized, the amino acids and proteins she needed for building muscles and the omega-3 fatty acids that provide the building blocks for the body’s anti-inflammatory hormones.
Check out my related post: Why should you aim to become a master?