Do you know what Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams have in common? Besides having prolific and internationally-famous writing careers, they were all booze-lovers. Did their love of alcohol inspire their works, or was their talent an inherent gift? It seems that certain substances have the power to boost creativity and inspiration while others can enhance our productivity. Remembering that over-consumption of anything isn’t a good idea, you might find that your abilities get that extra boost from one of these drinks:
In order to test whether alcohol improves creativity, an experiment was recently conducted by Dave Birss called “The Newt/Judge Experiment.” Individuals in two teams who were asked to come up with advertising ideas. Only one team was free to drink alcoholic beverages during the process. The result was that those drinking came up with better and more ideas than their counterparts did.
What the experiment unveiled is that creativity is increased when we consume alcohol simply because we focus much less on the surrounding world, and so the brain is freed up to brainstorm some awe-inspiring new ideas and make more new, creative connections. Scientists at the University of Chicago have confirmed the experiment’s findings with their own research, suggesting that alcohol consumption (blood alcohol level of 0.75) can help in creative problem-solving.
Beer is great for producing amazing ideas, then. It fuels our creativity, but that’s all. To get these ideas realized you need something entirely different, but equally loved, pick-me-up drink: coffee.
Millions of people consume thousands of gallons of coffee worldwide each day. For some, coffee is a morning pleasure, for others it is as essential as air. Coffee helps people be more alert and focused on a given task, boosting productivity.
In essence, caffeine fools your brain into thinking there’s lots of energy to go around, by messing up your adenosine receptors, a neurotransmitter that is not allowed to communicate to the brain you’re depleted of energy. Instead, it shouts, “Go on, your body is full of energy!” This is, however, a short-term energy boost that’s soon replaced by an even more sluggish mood.
Coffee is a naïve 5-year-old child compared to energy drinks which are brimming with not noly caffeine, but also sugar and other stimulants such as ginseng and guarana, making power drinks a dangerously addicting drink that offer just a short-term, sudden peak of alertness. It’s estimated that up to 50% of teenagers and younger adults consume energy drinks weekly, many even daily.
Despite some alluring reassurances that energy drinks are energy boosters, they have a dark, negative side. They can be extremely addictive, and those dependent on them experience severe energy crashes when they abstain from drinking them. This inevitably keeps energy drinkers in a vicious circle of energy boost and energy depletion. So despite their name, they’re in fact counterproductive; the short-term energy boost is soon replaced by a long-term, productivity dead-end.
So what to drink then?
While alcohol and caffeine when both consumed in moderation can assist you to be more creative and productive, other methods are generally more constructive over the long term. Learning a new skill that enhances productivity is a foolproof way to improve your career. For instance, touch typing skills can enhance your productivity and help you save time at work and at home, and it’s a life-long skill you can benefit from time and time again. Creating pleasant work environments in which you’re surrounded by inspiring images can also boost your creativity. Using candles or essential oils to add the scent of lemon or peppermint to wake up your brain can bring surprisingly effective results. In the end, although they can help in the short term, relying on substances is not the only way to bring out the creative and productive you.