Why You Should Live An “Experimental” Life
Be Curious But Unattached
It was six minutes of intense soul-searching. And then I made the decision. I plopped down a tidy sum of money on high-quality CBD oil. I heard that it helps with sleep and insomnia issues. I’m not sure if it’s true or hype. I’ve heard all sorts of rumors about its effects ranging from simple pain relief to telekinesis powers.
I’m just hoping it improves my sleep. Anything else would be a nice bonus. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll chalk it up to another failed experiment.
The Experimenter’s Outlook
I suffered from low grade, but persistent anxiety for much of my life. It was a fear of the unknown that caused much of the suffering. I tried several different self-help techniques and benefited much from journaling.
I also desired to improve my well-being in areas of health, fitness, mental ability, and peace of mind. I like to try new things to achieve these objectives.
These two goals, a need to reduce anxiety and a desire to improve, fueled my evolution into the experimenter’s mentality.
Approaching your life as a series of experiments makes you more open to trying new things. It frees you from the anxiety of the unknown outcome.
This mentality opens you up to more first-time experiences. Firsts are always exciting, even if they’re a bit nerve-racking: first date, first time off to college, first day at a new job. There’s a sense of hope and optimism that accompanies each experience.
In the past year, I’ve executed on several dozen experiments. Most of these have been changes to my daily routine, new habits and practices. Most cost little to no money. There are a few embarrassing exceptions.
I invested in a sound therapy machine eight months ago. I won’t reveal the ridiculous sum of money wasted on that contraption. The device now collects dust. You’ll see from a sample list below, most of my experiments aren’t risky, adventurous or in any way illegal.
But if that’s what comes to mind when you think of the experimenter’s life, then you are missing the point.
The experiment approach is not about seeking adventure. It’s about experiencing the wonder of the unknown and giving up the attachment to a particular outcome.
This list is a sample of some of my experiments and the results.
The sound therapy machine — Gave up after three months.
Intermittent fasting — Ongoing (nine months).
Sleep induction mat — Gave up after one month.
Index card daily goal formulas — Gave up after six months.
AI designed focus music — I listen to it on occasion because it’s relaxing; it hasn’t turned me into a DaVinci or Fitzgerald.
Morning bullet writing — Gave up after a year. Still do it once or twice a month.
Creativity exercises — Tried many. I typically stick with them for a few weeks to a month. They all lose their zest after a while.
Bulletproof coffee — Ongoing.
Bodypump classes — Gave up after two weeks.
Lemon balm extract — Gave up after two weeks.
CBD Oil — Starting soon!
Most of my experiments seem mundane. No doubt, you’re unimpressed. I bet you were hoping for some insight on psychedelic drugs. Sorry, but I’m a dull adventurer. Trying something new could mean something as simple as a deep breathing technique. Don’t think you need to go base jumping or smoke mind-altering drugs in the desert.
The primary definition of the word experiment refers to testing out scientific theories and hypotheses. There is also a second definition which reads like this.
Try out new concepts or ways of doing things.
That definition is incomplete, so I’ve tweaked it to serve my purpose.
Try out new concepts or ways of doing things without attachment to the outcome.
You want to be curious about the outcome but not dependent on it.
Frame Your Life As A Series Of Experiments
When we experiment, we do not know the outcome. We might hope for a particular result, but we know there is no certainty. If it fails, you’ve discovered something that doesn’t work. That’s valuable information.
Without attachment to an outcome, there is less incentive to stick with something that fails to serve your best interest. You quit what isn’t working and you try something else. If you try something new and tell yourself it must work, you ’ll feel obligated to persevere.
What About Perseverance, Drive And Commitment?
These are admirable qualities, and I’m not discounting their importance. We need to make a critical distinction between your goals/objectives and the things you do to achieve them.
You have goals or objectives in life. These are mostly static. They do not change often. Approach the activities and practices to reach those goals and objectives as your experiments. You try different things until you find something that works. Your goals and objective remain ironclad. You execute a series of experiments to attain that goal.
Goal: Improve physical fitness and health (whatever that means to you).
Experiments: Keto diet and kickboxing regimen.
Assess: If neither work for you, give them up and try something new. You are still persevering and staying committed to your goals. It’s the activities you do to reach those goals that change.
When Does An Experiment End?
I stick with most experiments for at least a month. If I see or feel no improvement, I stop. The results dictate how long I continue.
At some point, I’ll decide if an experiment becomes permanent. There is never any momentous decision where an experiment becomes an official part of my repertoire. I keep doing what works for as long as it serves me well.
Like the successful experiments, there is no fanfare when I give up on a venture. If I feel there is little to be gained by continuing a practice, I move onto something else.
- The Experimenter is curious about trying new things but unattached to a particular outcome.
- An Experimenter’s approach is a state of mind, not an addiction to risky adventures.
- End your experiment when it becomes clear it has failed and move onto something else. If it works, continue with it.
- Remain committed to your goals and objectives but be flexible on the means to achieve them.