Know thyself (as an experimental subject)

With age, we learn to take care of ourselves, learn what feels good in the moment, and what leads to a more lasting satisfaction; what personal habits we can culture and which are beyond the power of our will; what schedules and activities best support a productive, creative and vital mode of living.

It’s also true that we can easily deceive ourselves, persist in habits that are no longer working for us, or continue in self-destructive patterns because we never take a hard look at their impact on our energy and enjoyment of life.

I encourage you to experiment with yourself as a subject.  Different sleep schedules, meal schedules, exercise and transportation and social activities can be refined to support your personal well-being.

To learn what works for you:

  1. First, resolve to change just one thing at a time.
  2. Do it consistently for weeks 1 and 3, but do the opposite for weeks 2 and 4.
  3. Keep a daily diary, in which you write a few sentences or even a few numbers to rate how happy you are, how energized, how productive, how creative.
  4. At the end of 4 weeks, compare weeks 1 and 3 with weeks 2 and 4.  Average over the daily ups and downs; dismiss the flukes and rare events; look for consistent patterns  that might indicate to you whether this is a change that is worth making.
  5. Make a tentative commitment to it.  Try it for 6 or 8 weeks at a time, to see if you can get used to a new habit.

Allow lots of time in between before you take on another experiment to study the effects of another life style change that you are contemplating.



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