What would the real limitless pill be?

I’m on a six hour flight. The kind where you’re exhausted before even getting on the plane and hour 2 feels like Dante’s Seventh Circle of Annoyance. So I get mischievous…

In my bag I have a left over pain relief pill from my knee surgery. This will make everything more tolerable.

I take it.

So what happens next? Do I slip into sleep to forget it all? Do I ease into a silly rom com? Do I muster up the confidence to strike up small talk with the pretty stranger next to me? No, none of those things.

I do work.

But not just any kind of work. I get through more work in a few hours than I do all week.

How did this happen and what the heck is going on here?

Limitless, the movie about a man on a pill that turns him into a super genius, is back in fashion with the new TV series about it, and the recent approval of Provigil as a smart drug. That on top of all the nootropics (whose marketing guys can’t stop comparing it to the film).

I see a lot of obsession over getting things done faster, with more focus. So why, in a society with Starbucks at every corner (I could once see 4 standing in one place), would we need more mental stimulation?

Perhaps what actually works is a whole lot less.

I was out with a successful entrepreneur at a coffee house in Austin. He said, “I can’t take coffee. It makes me jittery. I get so much done on weed.” And that’s when I made the connection.

Here’s the deal. We are inundated with decisions and distractions. And studies have shown it takes just as much energy to decide matters of small importance as it does of larger importance. So we suffer from decision fatigue (which can feel like depression), and decision pressure (which feels like anxiety).

The reason I got so much done on the plane was because:

a) I didn’t have the distractions or anywhere to go.

b) I felt so at ease that decisions no longer felt like a big deal. So I was able to plow through things that I had been delaying for months.

Outside of a pill that could actually make us a genius, the key to achieving more could be fast but grounded decision making.

A change of state

I’ve always found that the quality of my decisions are in direct correlation with the state I’m in when I make the decision. I remember reading an article that said Bill Clinton found that every mistake he made in office was made when he was tired.

Now, I don’t believe brain state alteration through substances in sustainable. I’m speaking for myself personally. I get that it really works for others. But I can have that freak out from marijuana, and those pain pills are very addictive.

So what works?

I’m experimenting with a few things that have been really helpful to get to that relaxed, productive place:

  1. Floatation tanks.
    I wrote about them here. The New York Times just covered the trend of floating.

2. Cryotherapy

You freeze yourself at under -100 degrees. I just did -200 and I could not stop laughing as it was happening. The endorphin rush is incredible.

3. Cold Showers

If you want to know the power of cold, check out this podcast with Wim Hof. Cold showers do wonders for depression, metabolism and better skin.

What’s your hack for getting in the zone?

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