Micro living – removing overindulgence and focusing on quality

A few years ago I heard about a concept called ‘micro dosing’, which involves taking a small amount (around one twentieth the normal size) of hallucinogenic drugs (LSD, mushrooms). This tiny dose can give enough active ingredient to ward off depression and bring about mental clarity, but not enough to stimulate a full-on trip.

The potential benefits include helping to cure post-traumatic stress disorder, and led Tim Ferriss to fund research into their use.

The idea stuck with me as it was controversial, but made complete sense – take a small amount of something potent and see if you can have a toned-down version of the experience, with a more positive outcome.

Over the last week or so I found myself playing with this idea, wondering what else it might apply to.

The most obvious parallel is alcohol

I attended someone’s leaving drinks and, because I had to drive home, I drank a couple of small glasses of wine. I enjoyed the taste, felt mild alcohol effects, but none of the loss of self-control or next-day hangover.

I contrast this with last night, when I shared a bottle of wine with my wife at dinner. It was delicious, rich, fruity, paired perfectly with the food, but 1) too much for us to drink, 2) disrupted my sleep and 3) left me feeling groggy this morning. And we didn’t even finish it!

What, I was left wondering, what the point?

And I thought back to a tasting we’d had 3 years ago in the Napa Valley. We drank 3 wines of different vintages from the same producer, no more than 50ml in each glass. We took our time over the taste, guided through the differences and how they were achieved. The whole experience was satisfying, and I remembered that moment far more than I ever will the bottle we had last night.

I also remember studying for my finals at university, and once or twice a week, heading to the bar with my friends after a day in the library. There I’d buy a beer, drink it slowly, chat about nonsense instead of studies, and enjoy the effects of that one pint, before heading home for dinner and some more work.

These memories stick with me, I think, because I got maximum impact, for minimum downside. And they stood out as way markers in my day, little moments that punctuated the rest of my experience.

Enjoyment – check

A little light headedness – check

Didn’t disrupt my life rhythm – check

It also applies to food.

When my wife and I got together, I was introduced to a whole new world of Indian cooking. Chilli paneer, mogo, spiced chicken and lamb chops, soft naan, food like I’d never tasted.

I would scoff until I was full, and quite often still do.

For many the call of an extra large steak, or half a bar of chocolate, is too much to resist.

But the same approach applies. What if you ate less and savoured it? Buy better quality or think of it as a treat?

It might even work with relationships!

Now I don’t advocate having micro-relationships, but my wife told me today that in Anya Hindmarch’s book ‘If in doubt, wash your hair’, she talks about micro-gifting, where you give little surprises to your partner, like bringing home their favourite food.

I did this the other day, bringing home sugar pancakes and Nutella for a family breakfast. And the thought was appreciated.

You could extend this to little messages to family and friends to show them you’re thinking about them.

Or how about sharing your latest content or ideas with contacts in your network… ‘I made this and thought you might like it’?

We live in a world of abundance, so it’s easy to have lots of what we want.

If you’re anything like me you may think every gesture has to be grand too – something that makes a statement and sticks in the mind.

But we might find life a bit more manageable and enjoyable, by doing more of the micro.

Give it a go. What could you micronise?

Join the Conversation


  1. I love this post! It’s so different from society today with over-indulgence and feeling entitled to everything. I personally love the idea of micro-gifting. My husband and I do it now and then and it’s always appreciated. I do what I suppose you could call micro-working. I have chronic pain and can’t stand or walk for very long so getting housework done can be a challenge. I get up, do maybe 5 minutes of sweeping or tidying up, and then stop and take a break. I do this all day and miraculously things get done. It works for me. I’ll have to think further about what else I can micronise.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post,


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