Say it with me: beer. Love it or hate it, it's been a popular and ubiquitous beverage for thousands of years, predating even wine (take that, wine snobs!).
It's delicious. Refreshing on a hot summer's day. A social lubricant. And, it turns out, a powerful agent to boost your confidence and creativity. If you're a beer drinker, you've already experienced the shot in the arm and creative spark that comes after a bottle or two. What you may not know, though, is why it happens. Let's take a closer look using science (is there anything science can't do?!).
First up, creativity. Why do we have more creative solutions and thoughts after a couple of beers? Well, the classic definition of creativity is making new connections between old or known ideas. Our brain is naturally gifted at this, but it tends to get distracted in our uber-connected and rapid-fire world. There's just too much external stimuli around us 24/7, and our brains often behave like a kid with ADHD getting mesmerized by something shiny. Enter beer. When the alcohol hits our cerebral cortex - the part of our brain responsible for interaction, conscious thought, and language - we get less focused and concerned with what's going on around us. It allows us to turn inward and play with existing ideas in creative ways. Boom! Instant creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
Research on this phenomenon (yes, scientists are actively exploring it) explains that you need a blood alcohol concentration of roughly 0.07. Any higher, and you lose the creativity boost and enter into having-trouble-staying-vertical territory. For most people, two beers should do it. A recent study at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that subjects with a BAC around 0.07 were better problem solvers and creative thinkers than their stone-cold sober colleagues. So drink up.
As for our confidence, we've all received social courage from a bit of booze at some point. We feel more relaxed, more confident, and ready to interact after a couple of drinks. Alcohol acts like a mild sedative on our frontal lobe - the part of our brain in charge of emotion and behaviour, among a slew of other things - and that helps to remove both our safety and social filters. In short, we worry less and care little what other people think of us when drinking. That can be advantageous...but only up to a point. The more you drink, the more those filters are impacted. When you're drunk (rather than just slightly buzzed) you make bad and often dangerous decisions. According to Dalton Conley of NYU, beer (and any alcohol, for that matter) shuts down the self-censuring part of our brain, making us more willing and able to speak, discuss, and share our ideas with others. Confidence in a bottle.
As with virtually everything in life, moderation is key. There is a world of difference between having a couple of drinks, and getting drunk. Having 2-3 beers (depending on your age, gender, and weight) will boost your confidence and creativity. Going above and beyond that may turn you into a bumbling, socially awkward idiot. Make your choice...but chose wisely.