Question: A lot of brainiac types are talking about microdosing and other “brain hacks” to make themselves smarter and enhance performance. Does this actually work? Is it safe?
The science and art of cranial self-enhancement has been going on since the first monkey ate some kind of crazy fungus, saw the Great Primate Up in the Sky, and drilled a hole in its own head. Nowadays, our stimulants are divided by law and morality into things that can get you arrested vs. things that are more or less mandatory.
I can’t really tell you which ones are safe. When it comes to drug education, my recommendation is:
- Make someone else try it first.
- Wait at least 24 hours and see how they’re doing.
Most workplaces promote coffee as the #1 approved stimulant and provide it for free, along with sugar and chocolate. Tea is also widely used, as are energy drinks. Beer outings with your team are good, week-long benders with Everclear, not so good.
A certain group of controlled substances are touted as enhancing creativity. These include ADD drugs like Adderall as well as pot, acid (LSD), shrooms, and for some people, opium. IMHO some of these claims are simply rationalizing a habit, but not always. However, it’s hard to self-monitor if you’re baked all the time.
Remember, work is a drug, too. In fact, anything you put into your body changes your mental state, and hence is a mind-altering event – even food! Come to think of it, music is a drug, too. And so is going to a quiet place to meditate, or exercise. And, like other drugs, all these things can be abused.
Don’t lose sight of the goal with work, or any purposeful project, which is to enhance your performance. Oftentimes this requires better energy management. When are you at your peak, morning or evening? Are you eating enough? Eating the right things? Are you getting enough sleep and rest? What about exercise? Do you feel optimistic? How’s your stamina?
Workplaces are terrible for energy management, because they want you amped up 24-7. Doing things like eating healthy takes too much time and attention, it’s so much quicker to grab a Red Bull and run back to your desk for another round of multitasking. Whether it’s sports or brain-work, drug-induced performance comes at a steep, steep price.
The “microdosing” applies to acid – LSD – an old-school, 60s-era psychedelic. Apparently a lot of fearless young hotshots are taking a tenth of the recommended dosage on a regular basis, to make themselves sharper. It’s sort of the hipster alternative to Ritalin. My personal feeling is that you need to do inner work before taking yet another magic pill. There are no shortcuts to glory. But then, be fearless!