Biohacking is the Gamechanger
From my book How to Be Cross Eyed: Thriving Despite Your Physical Imperfection — a mémoire and lifehacking manifesto
A hacker is someone who wants to gain complete control of the system they are dealing with — be it technological or social.
A biohacker, therefore is someone who wants to gain complete control of their own biology.
One way or another biohacking is a gamechanger for those of us with physical imperfections. Unfortunately there’s not that much that I can do to biohack my crossed eye, in another decade ocular biotech will probably advance to the point that my ocular nerve can be repaired. So I biohack to…
- Maximize my energy levels, motivation and productivity.
- Sharpen my long term memory of things I’ve studied, books I’ve read, experiences, my second language, etc.
- Boost my focus and powers attention so I can get stuff done and resist distraction.
- Master my emotions so that my inner thoughts and dialogue work for me instead of me working for them.
- Enable high leverage, rapid skill set acquisition.
- Enhance my verbal intelligence and improve my grasp of vocabulary.
- Get amazing, rejuvenating sleep.
- Improve my intelligence and upgrade my working memory.
- Optimize my exercise routine to get the most out gym sessions.
- Fortify immunity so I don’t get sick during the winter time.
- Work hard, play hard and relax hard — to really properly unwind, chill out and enjoy the life I’m working so damn hard for.
- Have awesome sex.
Biohacking entails doing your own research, experimentation and self quantification. There’s a good chance that you might be able to mitigate and improve your physical imperfection with biohacking — if not it will at the least give you a significant edge in life to overcome the disadvantage you were born with.
The social programming that we’ve received tells us to just do what the doctors tell us to do in regards to our health; take the drugs they prescribe, buy the diet books they hype on TV and go to the hospital if you get sick. If you really want to thrive you need to take a bit more responsibility for your health. In the past gatekeepers like doctors, the FDA, hospitals or licensed experts kind of served a dubious purpose in society — very few people could study and understand bioscience or nutrition so these people gave the public general recommendations, listened to people describe symptoms and made recommendations based upon (hopefully) their wide breadth of experience.
We often underestimate how much of life is just the results of the genetic lottery being played out. The genes that you inherited from mom and dad for things like intelligence, personality and even aesthetic factors like height really do make a huge difference in how happy and successful you’ll be in life. It’s pretty unfair, especially if you are born in the statistical bottom half of naturally less attractive people. This is not merely a social conditioning thing either; evolution and genes even give preference to better looking people; beautiful people statistically have more daughters because the women almost always manage to reproduce while men do not. Does this mean that you’re royally screwed if you’re NOT beautiful? In the past it probably did but as I’ve said before…
Mitochondria are billions of tiny, ancient bacteria that power your individual cells. You’ve probably heard of them before, I’ll explain more in depth later what Mitochondria are but for now I think a Star Wars metaphor will suffice. In Star Wars the Jedi have their powers because of the midichlorians, which are a microscopic life form that are shared by all living things, that give the life force to all living things. That’s not far off from what Mitochondria actually are!
This idea of Predetermination seems to be very popular, this is this idea that every molecule in your body and indeed every atom in the universe is bound by laws of physics and mathematics.
- You can often predict quite accurately what a given atom, molecule, cell, organism, group, species, environment or even planet is going to do based upon established natural laws.
- We know, almost exactly, where Mars is going to be in 6 months.
- We know when a species is going to do their seasonal migration.
- We often know what’s going to make a tumor of cancer cells grow and take over a vital organ.
It would seem that the universe is quite predictable maybe even predetermined, with one exception, us humans.
We seem to make some very random decisions that sometimes totally surprise everyone. From the insides of our own heads it certainly seems like we have free will doesn’t it?
- We will debate back and forth with ourselves on decisions and finally go with the option that was seemingly quite unpredictable.
- Making a big decision we will write down a big list of pros vs cons to help us decide carefully between options.
- As I write this very chapter I decide between the words, prose and metaphors that will best communicate the ideas my mind is refining.
So this presents a big question, perhaps the biggest question, do we have free will or are we just playing out script that’s already been written for us?
Religion, since time immemorial, did a pretty good job at addressing this seeming paradox.
In religion, god knows what you are going to do.
- God knows what’s going to happen in the future.
- God has laid out a path of challenges and lessons for us so that we can ultimately end of leaving this world better than we found it.
Yet, in most religions god gives us free will or agency.
- God encourages us to be moral.
- God offers us incentives to be better people or communities but ultimately leaves the decision up to us.
But, as many atheists have pointed out this is, on the surface at least, a contradiction. Well, it’s a contradiction that’s reflective of the paradox of free will vs predetermination that profoundly confuses astrophysicists, neuroscientists, quantum physicists, social scientists and philosophers.
Here’s my take on this…
It would seem that, at scale, we have very little free will.
Here’s what I mean by this…
- When you get a statistically significant, similar group of people together you can quite accurately predict what they are going to do. If you get a group of people with a specific IQ range you can quite accurately predict how many of them will get jobs, how much money they will make, if they will get married, have kids or go to jail. At scale, viewed as group, they have disappointingly little free will.
- Similarly, if you look at the grand course of your life, at scale, predetermined factors seem to really limit what you’ll do and what you can become.
For example; I was one of these ambitious young adults that was really determined to become a millionaire by the time I was 30 and I read a lot of books about what this was going to take and tried really hard, yet I totally failed. Now I probably have a pretty average net worth for a male, American 33 year old. Despite all my agency, I ended up quite average.
So even though we seem to have quite a lot of micro-agency or free will in our short term, moment-to-moment, day to day decisions long term, at scale, you will likely end up being statistically quite average for…
- Your sex
- Your race
- Your height
- Your attractiveness
- Your intelligence
- The social class you were born into
These predetermined factors define almost everything about how your life is going to go.
And what is the programming that fundamentally underlies these things?
Your genes. More than anything else, your genes determine whether you are going to be really successful, happy or end up in jail.
Do the MAOA and CDH13 ‘human warrior genes’ make violent criminals — And what should society do? …
The warrior gene is back. And he’s brought along a buddy. This new research on a gene long associated with aggressive…
Your genes are your destiny
This is an uncomfortable and politically incorrect truth that…
- The self help gurus won’t admit to you because it undermines their transformation via positive thinking, self esteem or just be confident messaging.
- The genetic researchers and scientists won’t admit it to you because politically incorrect opinions can get them fired from their institutions or get their funding denied.
- Politicians certainly won’t admit this to you because they sell you the illusion of free will and self determination via democracy.
- Even the companies that sell Biohacking products and Mitochondrial supplements won’t admit this to you because they don’t want to insult their potential customers.
Defy your genes
So if everyone in your family, is really successful and happy then that’s a good sign that you have the kinds of genes that will lead you inevitably to become successful and happy. But if not, if your family is kind of a disaster, then it’s going to take really herculean energy, discipline and motivation for you to defy your genes and resist this gravity of epigenetic trauma that is powerfully and subtly pulling you down a path of mediocrity.
If you’ve ever felt like you kind of repeat the same mistakes and the same relationships and no matter how hard you try it doesn’t seem like you can reach escape velocity of momentum away from the black hole that is your past then that’s a pretty good sign that your genes are running your life.
Genes vs Mitochondria
The good news is that you can overcome your genes with your Mitochondria, sometimes in a quite literal way, where fully functional Mitochondria allows us to overcome epigenetic trauma, it switches off vestigial defense mechanisms in our genes and psychology that don’t serve us.
And having our Mitochondria working right gives us the energy and motivation to consistently practice helpful habits because, ultimately we are what we repeatedly do.
Why Mitochondria is THE Brain Power Hack
There’s been hundreds of studies done on Mitochondria in the past few years, and a number of books have been written on the subject. One of the better of these was Head Strong by Dave Asprey, I’ll quote from it as I discuss biohacking…
Luckily for you, the prefrontal cortex — the “higher” part of your brain in charge of advanced cognitive function — has the most densely packed mitochondria of any part of your body (except for the ovaries!). That means that your mitochondria contribute more energy to your brain’s performance than your heart, lungs, or legs. Your brain gets first dibs on mitochondrial energy, and your eyes and heart are right behind it in line. (p. 6)
So you’re thinking…
OK so I need to Biohack my Mitochondria if I really want to take charge of my life. Where do I get started? There’s so many options out there! So many studies, supplements and products!
You should probably start with Nootropics or as they’re often called smart drugs…
Smart Drugs are the Gateway Drug
The big problem with Biohacking mitochondria is that it takes discipline and consistency. If you don’t have A LOT of discipline to follow through on difficult to practice habits for months or years it’s not really going to work that well for you…
Jocko Willink, a highly decorated retired US Navy SEAL and bestselling author, is perhaps most famous for saying that…
Discipline equals freedom.
Similarly I like to say that…
Discipline is the ultimate lifehack because discipline gives you any other thing that you desire.
Do you desire wealth and money to enjoy the finer things in life?
Work persistently with discipline and focus to provide value to the world and you’ll be rewarded richly.
Do you desire a sexy girlfriend (or boyfriend)?
Discipline will make you the kind of person who attracts somebody really attractive.
Do you desire a good looking body and physique that people stare at with longing and jealousy?
With long, disciplined hours spent in the gym or exercising you can sculpt just such a body.
Do you desire fame, celebrity, influence and public notoriety?
With discipline you can build an attention worthy personal brand that will attract millions of social media followers, likes, raving fans and bitter haters.
Do you desire health and vitality?
With discipline you can fix almost any health problem that holds you back and habituate good habits that make you happy and energetic all the time.
Do you desire a happy, loving family?
Discipline is crucial to healthy familial relationships. Without it your family life will be a cauldron of dysfunction.
Perhaps you’re more altruistic instead — You desire more than anything else to leave the world better than you found it and make a positive impact?
Social revolutionaries and thought leaders without discipline consistently make the world much worse despite their good intentions.
Discipline gives you the freedom to do or be whatever you want.
Discipline will give you the freedom to flourish in the career and vocation of your choosing.
Discipline will give you the resources to be free to go and do whatever you want.
Discipline will give you freedom from the petty tyrants in your personal life.
Discipline will free you from the vices and bad habits that hold you back.
Perhaps you lack political freedom and are oppressed by the powers that be where you live. Discipline will give you the power and resources to fight back, change the system and resist tyranny or the means to pack up, leave and go somewhere more free.
The problem with discipline
If you don’t already have it, it’s damned hard to get.
If you don’t have discipline you’ll fail over and over in your plans and ambitious projects.
You’ll frustratingly repeat your own personal history cycle of hope, striving, failure and crushing disappointment.
You’ll rationalize and come up with elaborate excuses for your failure and lack of follow through.
You’ll believe in conspiracy theories about a system of oppression that’s holding you down.
You’ll talk about working smart instead of working hard, but the truth is that you do neither.
You may go to personal development events or hire coaches that motivate you for a few days or weeks but the clarity of purpose, focus and intensity will not last long enough for you to accomplish anything meaningful.
You’ll grow a little more cynical and bitter every year; your self loathing will gestate into bouts of depression and illness.
Yet when you have discipline, you have momentum. You slowly but surely accomplish your goals. You become happier, which makes you less needy, which makes you more attractive to other people. People call you out of the blue with great opportunities. Your success begets more success.
Discipline evokes a stereotype of a hard nosed, workaholic old man but the truth is that when you have discipline life is way more fun. When you’re working you really work but when you’re relaxing and playing life is sublimely beautiful. You’re free of petty time wasting chores, tasks, obligations and worries that suck the joy out of life.
We’ve all met old or middle aged people who were, honestly, losers;
They were in dead end careers that sucked the life out of them. They had health problems and bad habits. They looked bad and smelled bad. They had an awkward, creepy way of communicating. Their personal lives were a wreck, they complained about their failed marriages and their children hated them.
This is the life that awaits you if you fail to become disciplined.
Discipline is hard to get
Some of us were lucky to have parents or a community that spent years or decades instilling discipline in us but many of us have to learn discipline as adults.
Jocko acquired the discipline that now makes him a successful author and entrepreneur thanks to decades of military training and service.That’s one way to get it, but the cost is very high, you may even pay with your life on the battlefield of a foreign land.
There’s other paths to discipline…
- Exercise and fitness.
- Entrepreneurship and business.
- Mastery of technology; learning programming, building websites or tinkering with hardware.
- Martial arts.
- Many young men devote years of their lives to learning the art of seduction; practicing social dynamics.
- Spiritual or religious devotion to a church, movement or mindfulness practice.
- Studying seriously in college to prepare for a serious profession (that you may end up hating!)
If you’ve embarked on one of these paths you know that you don’t get that far without discipline. But discipline can be quite the catch-22; you need discipline to get discipline but if you don’t have discipline you really struggle to get discipline.
Luckily there is a shortcut to discipline; a class of safe, non-addictive legal drugs that consistently improve focus and motivation.
Nootropics are a cheat code for discipline.
I’m not suggesting that you use these drugs forever and become dependent upon them for your productivity; I certainly don’t. I’m suggesting that you use these drugs like a cheat code; as a short term measure to build momentum towards your goals and to jump start your discipline with practicing habits that produce more discipline.
So you maybe thinking…
OK so I’m intrigued by smart drugs BUT still a bit skeptical. Are you sure that these are safe? There must be some risk or side effects… Also it looks like there’s a lot of Nootropics out there — which of them are actually legit?
Obviously the most important thing is safety, doing no harm — the next chapter will describe in depth my risk management approach to self experimentation and give some guidelines for biohacking safe and smart. Please read that in full before ordering or ingesting anything!
The Best Nootropic…?
But here I’ll address a question that people pose to me so often…
What is the best Nootropic? What smart drug is actually legit and actually works?
Well, it really depends upon your individual neurobiology BUT here’s my short list of Nootropics that should be used for a specific purpose that I recommend along with credible sources that you can order from…
Best smart drug: Piracetam
The very safe and affordable original smart drug which has been demonstrated in +600 human studies to enhance long term memory, verbal intelligence and cognition.
Best creativity promoter: Nicotine
Powerfully stimulates the default network of the mind, your unconscious creative capacity. Unlike Ayn Rand, Tolstoy or Mark Twain I don’t smoke, I consume pharmaceutical grade Nicotine directly.
Best libido and testosterone promoter: Horny Goat Weed
This funnily named herb is a gamechanger for maximizing sexual hedonism and imbuing healthy masculine aggression and zest for life.
Best Nootropic Stack: Tao Ultra Nootropic
I’ve tried A LOT of these Nootropic multivitamin formulation products and this one is my current favorite. A precisely engineered cocktail of high quality ingredients for focus, cognition, mood and memory.
I have a specific methodology that I use to select credible, high quality sources of Nootropics which I’ll explain in the next chapter. And it changes from time to time, I’ll find better sources of something or a particular vendor will exhaust their supply of a particular high quality organic Nutraceutical for this reason I’d highly recommend that you visit my website LimitlessMindset.com and join my newsletter, I’ll send you my up to date list of valid vendors.
You might be thinking…
Hey Jonathan I see what you’re doing here! These companies pay you to recommend their products don’t they? Your Twitter bio even says that you’re a “Smart Drug Dealer”
Yes. Some of them do. Some of them don’t. Again, I have a specific methodology for identifying credible sources of particular Nootropics. My blog and Youtube channel is read and followed by many thousands of people every month. I have people who contact me every day asking what Nootropics they should be using for different issues and goals that they have. I make recommendations based upon what I think is actually going to help these people based upon my 7 years of obsessively studying this pharmacological category AND based upon my methodology for filtering out bullshit products and vendors.
Join the Biohacking Revolution!
We live in excitingly novel times when we have made quantum leaps in understanding, testing and controlling our own biology. At a time when many of the leading minds in medical science and technology believe that the first immortal human has already been born and you can get your personal DNA genotyped, it is not unrealistic to say that you can have total control over your own biology.
Biohackers have a couple of common goals:
- Significant gains in productive energy and focus to get things done. Adding more productive hours to the day and more productivity to those hours.
- Boosting Serotonin and Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ Neurotransmitters, sustainably.
- Improving recall, accuracy, short and long term memory along with the learning process.
- Avoidance of chronic disease, cancer and age related cognitive decline.
- Training Executive Function for better discipline and self control.
- Decreasing the quantity of sleep while increasing the quality.
- Effective stress management.
- Personal experimentation, self quantification and measurement beyond what ‘feels good’.
- Biohacking should be high leverage: a minimum of effort, time or money spent will yield significant results that are in some cases sustained.
- Biohackers want to see the world released from all the evil and absurdity that we see on the nightly news and we think the way to accomplish that is personal empowerment of mindset and health.
- Many Biohackers are also Transhumanists who have the lofty ambition of living indefinitely.
While biohackers look at the big mind-body picture and many are holistic health practitioners, there is definitely a focus on cognitive health, balancing Neurotransmitters, promoting Neuroplasticity, empowering a highly productive mindset and strategies that are going to produce results quickly.
- You’re less empowered than you may think you are by your positive mindset, hopes and ambition.
- Your (unlucky?) genes really do make a big difference in your destiny.
- Mitochondria are to free will what genes are to predetermination. Hack your mitochondria and you’ll seize back control of your life from your genes.
- Nootropics are (most likely) the best way to start hacking your mitochondria and achieve momentum towards your goals.