If you’ve never heard of A.J. Jacobs, I encourage you to look him up. He’s an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who has made him the guinea pig of ‘lifestyle experiments’. I first heard about him on Tim Ferriss’ podcast and the episode changed my frame-of-mind. For years, I realized I’d put so much pressure on my decisions…thinking they were black and white and what I decided had to be ‘right’. The concept of lifestyle experiments completely freed me — whatever I took on simply became a hypothesis that I’d be testing out. I’ve tried my own versions of Jacobs’ lifestyle experiments for:
- Being more positive
- Infusing positive energy in the lives of others
- What I put into my body
- The frequency with which I do yoga
- The frequency with which I write
Rather than say, “I’m going to diet”…instead, I’ve said, “I’m going to try life without wine for 21 days and see what happens.” Not only does this keep me from mean, bully-like self-talk if something goes wrong, but I become curious about the impact of moments of the journey rather than the result. The intent becomes to study the process (How do I feel when I wake up? What are the triggers that make me want a glass?) , not hitting an outcome (what’s the number on the scale?).
The powerful piece of this iterative process is that it helps me live consciously. It allows for growth and adjustments along the way, and it has shown me that there are so many tangential impacts when we change our behaviors. What we do is not isolated in a single event, but rather intricately interwoven in our history, our relationships, and the way we experience a reward.
Shonda Rhimes, producer and screenwriter for television epic Grey’s Anatomy (and others), shares her story of a beautiful year-long experiment in her TED talk and book My Year of Saying Yes to Everything. She sat down with Oprah and shared more about how this experience changed her.
My experiments this year:
- Spend 30 minutes without technology doing whatever my son wants to do, daily
- Start my day with 30 minutes of stream of consciousness writing
- Facilitate a weekly mindfulness practice in my organization
- Pray – pray big, pray bold for things that could only be attributable to God (Mark Batterson in the Circle Maker put this challenge in my path)
- Join the Rodan + Fields team to sell skincare products in order to fund a scholarship for kind, brave and strong college-bound women
And, the experiment I’ll continue:
- Eating the way Dr. Kellyann Petrucci outlines in her books and website
What experiment(s) will you do this year? Join me in waking up to your own journey, trying some things on for size, and deciding if you want to continue them or how you can improve upon them. I promise that the result is that you will experience more consciousness in your life. Or, said more simply, more LIFE in your life.