Biohacking Your Belief System | Dave Asprey

How Much Are We Really in Charge of Our Belief System?

It feels like we are, but the evidence says otherwise.

In the past several episodes of the podcast (Beau Lotto, David Bayer, Vienna Pharaon) Connor has interviewed guests whose message included some form of the following thesis, “Our belief system and therefore our actions are mostly automatic. Interrupting this belief system and choosing a new, better belief system unlocks greater success, fulfillment, and connection.

With Beau Lotto, the message was around neuroscience.

With David Bayer, it was more about presence and awareness — you might call it a spiritual approach.

Vienna Pharaon talked about pausing to choose a new story in your relationship.

Today’s guest, Dave Asprey, takes a different approach. While he and Connor spoke about a variety of biohacking topics, the biggest takeaway was how our mind receives signals from the 1,000,000,000,000,000 mitochondria in our cells (that’s one quadrillion).

These mitochondria treat our body like a petri dish. For them it’s just a place to live, and we’ve evolved in symbiosis with them. Our experience tells us we’re conscious beings choosing how we think and act. But on a biological level this just isn’t true. In a way, the mitochondria is in control. Since it ‘wants’ to survive, it’s become adept at sending us signals it ‘believes’ will lead to our survival. Over millennia, these mitochondria have gained the ability to interface with our brains, sending us signals that color our view of reality and therefore our actions.


Watch Connor’s Interview With Dave Asprey


Have you ever wondered how two people can experience the same thing and react in the opposite way?

I once had the pleasure of caving with a group of people as part of a retreat experience. The experience terrified some of the people, whereas it gratified a bunch of others (myself included). The next day, we were asked to paint our faces in preparation for a hike. This time I was terrified while some of the others who were scared of caving had no fear of the face-painting.

Perhaps it was past experience that made each of us feel fear. Whatever caused it, the feeling was visceral. It happened far below our so-called rational ability to choose. This just underscores a statistic that was mentioned in Connor’s interview with Vienna Pharaon — 95% of everything we do is subconscious.

Is it possible that our mitochondria was sending us some kind of signal to feel fear in certain circumstances? Dave Asprey would certainly say so. His argument is that in some sense the mitochondria ‘want’ something. They ‘want’ us to survive, and throughout our long evolutionary history this has meant developing a strong fight or flight instinct.

This is a good thing, of course. We want to flee if we’re in true danger. But in today’s world, we’re exposed to stimuli that aren’t actually dangerous. Yet our mitochondria don’t know that.

The bottom line is this: we constantly receive information from our mitochondria and often it’s highly damaging information. We often experience anxiety, fear, and depression not because we’re bad people but because our biology is telling us to feel fear.

How do you stop, think, feel, and make a new, more life-affirming choice when you’re body is automatically sending you fear signals? Our previous guests have showed us how to do this, but Asprey’s point is that it’s going to be a lot more difficult to create that gap between stimulus and response when our operating system is unhealthy at the mitochondrial level.

You have to get healthy physically and mentally at the same time. There’s no difference between the two even though we speak that way. As you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually upgrade yourself you need to consider basic biology. While you can’t stop your mitochondria from sending you signals, you CAN improve your overall health which then positively affects your mind. You’ll receive fewer fear signals and be able to make better choices.

This is where biohacking comes into play.

Make Your Mitochondria Support a Better Belief System

Dave Asprey says that two things above all else will help you develop a healthy mitochondrial environment in your body. It comes down to putting your body through short bursts of high stress, rather than living in a constant state of low stress.

Cold Exposure

Anyone who has tried the Wim Hof Method can tell you that at the very least, cold showers will make you feel very much alive every morning. Dave Asprey says that short periods of cold exposure forces your mitochondria to regenerate.

By putting yourself through short bursts of high stress, your body’s natural processes will shed the unhealthy mitochondria that send you fight or flight signals and will be replaced by healthier ones. These healthier mitochondria will send you better signals and you will develop a better belief system. Cold exposure is a major form of stress to the human body. It sucks while you’re doing it, but if you can stick it out you’ll end up doing yourself a major service.


You’ve probably heard of ‘ketosis.’ This is when your body, instead of burning carbohydrates, burns ‘ketones’ instead.

To achieve this state you need to eat a shit load of fat and little to no carbs. It’s more complicated than that, but but high fat, no/low carbs is the basic formula. If you know anyone who has ever been in ketosis, you’ll also know that it’s a ridiculously difficult state to maintain due to the rigours of the diet.

People get religious about ketosis, but Asprey says you don’t have to. His recommendation is to take a ketone supplement, which will put your body temporarily in ketosis. This is enough, he says, to help that process of destroying weak mitochondria and generating new ones.

Guest Bio: Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey is the founder and CEO of Bulletproof, a high-performance coffee and food company, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, host of the Webby award-winning podcast Bulletproof Radio, and a two-time NYTimes bestselling author.

His new book, Head Strong, focuses on simple tips to have a smarter, faster, more resilient brain. Dave provides groundbreaking techniques to give you control of your biology so that you can reach a state of high performance.

Here’s a Few More Highlights Discussed in the Episode

  • How to shift in perspective from “strengthening weaknesses” to “problem-solving”
  • The upside to being new is having a fresh perspective
  • Breaking myths — You have X number of brain cells and if you kill them you can’t regrow them
  • Our brain spends a lot of time focusing on unconscious fears in order to prevent those situations
  • How advancements in technology are shifting how the brain functions and perceives environments
  • Our brains are a pattern recognizing machine, and to become more efficient we need to unlearn certain patterns and relearn better, more purposeful pattern

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

You Might Also Like:

How to Find Purpose in Life

The 5 Key Steps to Editing Your Life Story

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Editing & Mixing by: Aaron Johnson