The 2 AM Principle [Biohacker Review]

The 2 AM Principle

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The 2AM Principle
By Jonathan Roseland

I just finished this very entertaining and informative adventurer’s manifesto by Jon Levi, a behavioral scientist who likes to party.

This book follows the storytelling-rich principal, anecdote, scientific reference format that makes non-fiction a pleasure to read. The author has a formula for epic experiences…

I’ll tell you about a very silly place - Bocas Del Toro, Panama

This is an island in the Caribbean just off the coast of Panama. It’s a sunny resort town where travelers revel, drink till 9 AM, and generally get sunburnt. The unofficial slogan of Bocas is if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down — you can find this message conspicuously in every bathroom on the island and you can figure out what it means. I spent a couple of hazy weeks there once upon a time and silliness ensued.

I stayed at this hostel/nightclub called Agua which was basically a playpen for adults. It was built over the warm blue water on giant stilts. It featured a giant deck for sunbathing with a swimming pool (the Caribbean) that you could launch yourself into from a trampoline or some swings perched on the edge. Inside was a bar and dancefloor. Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about the place was that every morning after the nightly dance party the floor would begin to come apart because of the drunks jumping on it. The hostel manager would hire a local crew of guys to come in, they would tear up the dancefloor and reassemble it so that hopefully no one would fall through — and they would do this practically every day!

One night at the hostel/nightclub they were doing a talent show. A bunch of really awful local reggae artists was performing and I decided to switch things up by volunteering to try to do some stand-up comedy.

Among the flip-flopped, tank top-wearing gringos and locals, there was one very elegant woman wearing a white dress that accentuated her amazing suntan. Of course, I approached her, made a little conversation, and got a pretty blasé response.

I had about 20 minutes to prepare some material for my stand-up routine so I wrote down some jokes on my smartphone that I thought were good and returned to my bunk in the hostel dormitory to get something. On my bunk bed, I saw something very unexpected, underwear! Not mine, it was rather small underwear actually. Perhaps someone was trying to tell me something… I grabbed the underwear and decided to incorporate it into my stand-up performance. This was sure to be awesome!

My stand-up routine flopped, the crowd was I think expecting more screeching musical performances, and here was this gringo trying to tell jokes. I did indeed show off the underwear to the whole crowd and made some jokes about drunken hostel hookup culture that didn’t really land. I was played off stage after a few minutes by the DJ. Also, it turned out that it wasn’t underwear, it was a Speedo! I had only been out of the USA for a few months at the time and couldn’t tell the difference between panties and European swimwear. The speedo belonged to the Israeli guy sleeping above me in the hostel and he was oddly angry with me for using his item in my stand-up routine.

But as soon as I exited stage left guess who was very interested in talking to me? The woman in the white dress was suddenly entranced by everything I had to say. Not much more happened between me and the woman in the white dress but it illustrates the value of taking social risks.

Social risk is a double-edged sword

It can make you the beloved celebrity at a party or make everyone hate you. This book delves deeply into the nuances of how to yield social risk wisely and maximize the ensuing adventure and romance…

When asked to describe the most wondrous, exciting, and remarkable experiences in their lives, people consistently say they occur by chance, that these experiences are moments of sheer serendipity — a by-product of the universe perfectly aligning to culminate in an extraordinary situation. But if this were true, if it were truly random, we would all live similarly exciting lives, and we don’t. This means that there must be some method at work, some best practices that I could learn.

You’re probably going to party from time to time, so why not lifehack partying so that you are getting the maximum bang of great memories from the buck you spend after the sun has set. But the book is not just about drunken debauchery and booze-fueled idiocy — I was a digital nomad for 6 years and I observed that most travelers suck at actually having great experiences abroad, they consistently choose the lesser pleasures over the greater pleasures.

Epic Model

Epicness is hard to plan, what you want to devote logistical planning to is gathering a team of interesting people to party with.

the best nights almost always involved some kind of preparation. They often involved selecting the right group of people to participate and a new location to explore. There were trends in the types of activities that worked to bring people together, but there also seemed to be a clear line separating a fun night from an extraordinary night that consistently showed up around 2 AM.

Boring people can make the most amazing party or venue suck, while awesome people can make the most podunk little party, in a dreary little town memorable.

I would always rather be with the right people at the wrong party than with the wrong people at the right party.

Mission-Driven Partying = Epicness

When you look at almost every great adventure ranging from literature and movies to news reports or even your friends’ stories, you will notice a clear and common thread: it had nothing to do with wealth, good looks, or resources; it had to do with a goal. Every great adventure has an underlying mission, and it isn’t just any mission; it’s one that is outside the person’s comfort zone.

Going out to aimlessly drink and peruse is not likely to result in anything extraordinary, you want to come up with some arbitrary mission, like…

  • Parachute into a town where you don’t have a hotel room reserved or a designated place to sleep.
  • Find someone who will give you a place to sleep.
  • Get someone to give you their underwear.
  • Take a photo with something childish.
  • Steal something insignificant from a bar (make sure to return it though!)
  • Meet someone from South America.
  • Kiss a police officer.

Constrain Thyself

Having too many options will in fact make us less happy. Constraints are thereby critical for reducing the overwhelming effects of the paradox of choice. Not only will they increase satisfaction, they will also catalyze creativity and excitement within the context of an adventure.

Arbitrary constraints will make your adventures a lot more interesting, like…

  • Go out with no money, and convince people to buy you drinks.
  • Use a fake identity - play a character.
  • Don’t talk, only communicate non-verbally with people.
  • Use a silly pickup line with every person you talk to.

Skill vs Challenge

In my article on flowstate, I talk about the importance of challenge to reaching an altered state — three characteristics define a good challenge:

CLARITY: There can be no confusion over the desired outcome. A person either succeeded or failed, but nothing in between. You either got the person’s phone number or you didn’t, you scored more points, ate more hot dogs, ran more miles, or hit a ball farther.

TIME LIMIT: The challenge must be completed by a specific time.

THRESHOLD OF SKILL: A challenge needs to feel like it is at the limit of your ability. If it is too grandiose, it will seem impossible, and too easy will be boring. This sounds similar to the rules of a mission except a mission guides your whole adventure; a challenge guides a few minutes of an activity at a specific place.

Push Boundaries

Epicness results from benign violations of the rules of polite society. Figure out how to (legally!) push boundaries and your night will get a lot more interesting.

people just don’t pay as much attention to us as we think they do. We are all probably too self-absorbed to care. This means even if you cross social boundaries that are terrifying for you, other people probably won’t notice, care, or respond. Hopefully this will give you a little more freedom to go out and have some fun and if you want to be noticed, you really have to try hard to stand out.

You don’t push boundaries for others, you do it for yourself. Taking risks, particularly social risks, hacks your emotional state, it gives you a glow of attractive energy that is going to make people much more open to you. This is something pickup artists know well, often before entering a venue full of elegant women, pickup artists will do something intentionally absurd and silly to get themselves into state, like…

  • Laying on the sidewalk.
  • Bump’n grinding with a tree.
  • Wrapping toilet paper around one’s head.

When I would go out with a wingman to a nightclub, we would often prime our state for fun by laughing at nothing for no reason for 60 seconds. At first, you have to force yourself to laugh but quickly laughing for no good reason becomes self-evidently funny.

Their research suggests something very logical: we perform best, not in the anxiety-free calm of our comfort zone, but in a state of what has become known as “optimal anxiety” or “productive discomfort,” somewhere in between over- and under-stimulation.

Make arbitrary requests of strangers

A social dynamics hack that works wonders is to ask people to do things for you, even things you don’t need. This makes them more invested and interested in the relationship.

I would encourage you to go out and make requests from strangers and see how often they agree to whatever you ask. You will find yourself enjoying some unexpected rewards, all because you were willing to make a request or ask for a favor. More importantly, research has shown that people will like you more if they do you a favor.

Be Impulsive


Unless you’re risking your life, limb, or freedom while adventuring don’t think yourself out of taking benign risks. Adventurers take action!

This research suggests that when you are attempting to do something with a high level of perceived risk, the less time you spend debating, judging, or psyching yourself out, the less anticipation you will have and the more pleasant the experience will be.

As Robert Greene explains in The 48 Laws of Power

Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity

The 48 Laws of Power
Category: Book

End with Style

The way memory works is that if a great night or vacation ends on a bad note, it will be enshrined in your memory as a bad episode. Thus endeavor to end your adventures with style on a positive note.

The most important characteristic in remembering your adventures fondly is ending on a good note.

It turns out that the likely way we process our enjoyment is based on a peak end rule. We don’t process the duration of pleasure or pain; instead, we remember the peaks of an experience and how it ends.

Thinking Slow vs. Thinking Risky?

RiskInterestingly, thinking fast makes us more prone to take risks.

If Chandler and Pronin’s research tells us anything, it’s that we can quickly boost our tolerance for risk and our desire for excitement. If we want motivation and the desire for risk, it is as easy as viewing fast-paced content that will encourage us to think faster. If you find yourself in a situation in which people are taking too many risks, try to calm them down so that they will think more slowly.

In essence, thinking faster led to a 27 percent increase in taking on risk.

This reminds me of a sales and persuasion lifehack I learned from the Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort. He produced an excellent sales and persuasion course a few years back that I went through. In the course, he explains how he trains salespeople to speak rapidly as though they are in a bit of a hurry to get the prospective customers in a more impulsive state of mind. On a sales call, you would not want to clearly articulate…

You have received an investment prospectus about my firm

Instead, you would want to kind of blurt out…

You’d received ‘n investment prospectus ‘bout my firm

Jordan explains that important people speak rapidly. Check out my deep-dive review of his most recent book about sales psychology...

Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success
Category: Book

Personally, I vary my speech cadence depending on who I’m talking to. In my YouTube videos, I speak a bit slower to communicate clearly to my audience. I’ve spent a lot of time in foreign countries and if I’m speaking to a non-native English speaker I enunciate slower. But if I’m on a sales call or talking shop, negotiating with someone I often speak a lot faster. Pickup artists know that a lot of times you can cut a line to get into a hot nightclub by walking up very briskly and purposefully to the bouncer and mumbling something very quickly to them and showing them a slip of paper for just a second…

Jon gaveme dis to getin!

And voila! Now you don’t have to wait 20 minutes to enter.


One consistent ingredient in adventure and epicness is of course travel; being in a novel environment.

you need the right team, an exciting location (preferably new), an underlying mission to drive the action, and constraints to catalyze creativity.

This doesn’t necessarily require a flight to an exotic country. In the book, he shares some real adventures he’s had by just venturing out of his native New York to small-town America. So you don’t need to travel a long way for adventure, you could just take a road trip to a town you’ve never visited or go visit the kind of bar or party that you normally don’t visit.

Fear of Missing Out


All this fabulous social media technology in our pockets stimulates a lot of FOMO — you open up Facebook (or worse Instagram!) and all you see are photos of people doing extravagant things in cool places — that’s not real life. We logically know this but this nonstop feed of JPEGs needlessly stimulates that jealousy which makes us feel like we are really missing out. Jon has a great mindset for this…

I live by a very important rule: wherever I am is the best place for me to be in the world.

For the longest time, I was resistant to joining Instagram because I knew about the deleterious effects that it can have on our mental health. The pickup artist RSD Max convinced me by explaining that Instagram is kind of a lifestyle gamification hack because it encourages you to do awesome, fun things more frequently. All those likes and comments that you get on your photos and stories impel you to get outside of your comfort zone. It kind of turns life into a videogame, where you are constantly looking for cool things to do. The hack to taking advantage of this upside to Instagram (or whatever social media app replaces it in 5 years) is to not follow anyone who is going to stimulate a lot of jealousy for you. Thus I don’t follow a lot of people, I follow a few family members and friends along with a couple of other Biohackers and thought leaders who post interesting, positive things. I don’t follow any professional hot chicks, models, celebrities, travel gurus, or RSD Max for that matter.

Seek Discomfort

Comfort zone diagram

In the final chapter of the book, he urges us to do that which makes us uncomfortable. That’s where the magic happens.

Remember that the size of your life is proportional to how uncomfortable you are willing to be.


Everybody knows that alcohol is often the commonality that enables awesomeness to happen. If you think back on many of the most fun experiences of your life, you probably weren’t sober. Many of Levi’s hilarious anecdotes involve drinking.

You don’t have to drink to have an interesting life of adventure or enjoy peak experiences, but if you are going to drink socially, you should read this book because his methodology will 10X the fun and great memories that you get out of your boozy nights.

I’d also urge you to biohack your boozing to mitigate the damage you do to your health and the time spent hungover. I’m also a huge advocate of doing 30, 60, or 90-day sober trips; go totally off of booze to teach yourself to draw state from within. I’ve discovered a great legal alternative to booze, Phenibut, this tangy Gabaergic supplement has basically the same effect but doesn’t have all the huge downsides of alcohol. Phenibut has saved me a ton of money and hangovers so I recommend it enthusiastically to anyone who likes to party.

Unlike in my recent memoir, How to Be Cross Eyed, Jon doesn’t regale us with lurid details of his sex life, so this book is PG-13 rated but his methodology for having a crazy night certainly makes this book worth a read by pickup artists and seducers.

How to Be Cross Eyed [Second Edition]
Category: Book

5 stars

The book features a number of cool illustrations and infographics that visually break down Levi’s principles of adventure. I’d recommend that you get the print version of the book because it has a layout that is a little awkward to read on the Kindle app.

I enthusiastically recommend reading this if you’re a young single guy, an adventurer, or a socialite who sees partying as a tool for networking up.


Review Title
The 2 AM Principle by Jon Levy [Book Review]
Media Type
  • Book
  • eBook (Kindle/ePub/PDF)
  • Audio Program
Author or Creator
Jon Levy


The 2 AM Principle
Levi’s Epic Model for Adventure
The 2AM Principle [Book Review]
Bocas Del Toro, Panama
Aqua Lounge bar and hostel
Comfort Zone


What is the 2 AM Principle?
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Bocas Del Toro, Panama
Aqua Lounge bar and hostel
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