15 Sep 3 Cognition Hacks to Improve The Way You Think, Learn and Feel
Cognition is one of the most fun areas to biohack. Not only does it affect the way you feel, but it also has a huge impact on your performance and your quality of work.
I used to think cognition could only be improved through academics. But once I discovered biohacking and learned more about brain health, I realised that this was a limited belief. It doesn’t account for the many physical, social and personal development means of improving our minds.
Though one could argue that every biohack doubles as a cognition hack–because the mind tends to benefit after the body improves–there are some hacks that only benefit the mind.
There are three primary categories:
- Mental clarity (focus)
- Thinking patterns (models of reality)
- Emotional state (mood)
One of my favourite biohacks helps boost mental clarity and is a byproduct of your diet. I’ve had amasing results in boosting physical performance through changing what I eat, but the biggest perks are improved focus and mental clarity.
For me, this comes through eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate (HFLC) diet, very much aligned with the Bulletproof Diet. When you eat this way, you’re less influenced by mental cravings which distract from work. I find, it eliminates the crash after meals and I digest food easier. Basically, the bodily side-effects of food no longer get in the way of having a clear mind. For example, my productivity after lunch skyrocketed once I stopped eating heavy, high-glycemic carbs as the base of my afternoon meal.
Note: It’s also essential that you remove food toxins, ensure that your body is fat-adapted and that you’re eating high quality foods. Decreasing inflammation is a must. Food groups that I try to avoid include sugar, refined carbs, low-quality meats and industrial seed oils.
It’s important to mention that even when my micronutrients are on-point and I’m eating grass-fed and organic everything, if my macronutrient ratios (fat:protein:carbs) are off, or if I go way over my calories, then I still feel tired and bloated. I discovered through experimentation that for me, this ratio is roughly 20% carbs, 20% protein and 60% fats. I used to think I needed more carbs because, as an ectomorph, I don’t gain weight easily. That led me to overeat carbs, and upset my stomach and clarity of mind – even though the carbs were coming from high-quality sources.
The next on the list is to change the way you think and learn. It doesn’t involve food, smart drugs, cold-water exposure or movement training–though, those all help. It involves changing the way you think to better learn and understand ideas.
Think in visual models to learn faster.
Though it seems like extra work, it actually results in less learning time overall. Our brain has an easier time learning things when we engage more of our senses. So while learning a new concept, when you read the definition or hear an explanation, though you may understand the message, you’ve leaving out the visual aspect of learning. Instead, when you visualise what that concept would look like in a simplified (or detailed) model, it’s easier to connect the pieces and gain a greater understanding of the whole concept.
Cognitively straining? Yes… at first. But you can improve at this through practice.
The reason I love this method is because once you understand the concept, you won’t have to go back and re-study or re-learn how it works. You may only need a simple cue to trigger the model. Spending less time learning means you can absorb more information at once and spend your extra time doing things that you love.
Pro-tip: Explain and illustrate the visual model to teach someone else. This solidifies your understanding and helps you identify any knowledge gaps you may have.
Who wouldn’t want to boost their emotional state (and automate it)?
Though it’s easy to listen to podcasts and audiobooks for inspiration, those are both passive. I find active ways to be much more effective. Specifically: asking questions. You can prime your mind to think in favourable ways. In turn, you can boost your emotional state.
Every day, a set of questions pops up on my to-do list:
- What in your life are you enjoying most?
- Are you taking 100% responsibility for your life?
- Are you 100% confident you are going to achieve your goals?
The questions are there for two reasons. They:
- Prime my mind for positivity, inspiration and motivation to work
- Remind me to take action on areas in my life that are important to me
By asking these questions, I’m stimulating thoughts around important topics in my life. Those thoughts almost always bring up positive emotions.
If you want to automate this, set it as a recurring to-do item. Whether it be through your calendar or your task management app, make sure you get questions every day.
By routinely ask yourself deep questions to prime your mind, you will keep the important things top of mind. You’re guaranteed to boost your mood this way.
Improving cognition can be unconventional and fun. Whether you’re changing your diet, learning new thinking patterns or asking more questions, there’s no limit to your improvement.
Lucas Cohen, Marketing Intern, OptimOZ
OptimOZ is Australia’s Bulletproof, keto, biohacking and uber-foods store. Everything we stock is designed around optimizing the human experience. Delivered Australia-wide from Sydney.