Ever wonder what life might be like if we lived it more as an experiment? As an opportunity to learn, study, and test?
We experiment when we cook, train, exercise, create, travel, diy, or garden…why don’t we experiment with how we live our lives, interact in relationships, and move through the world?
Somewhere along the way, we’ve concocted beliefs that tell us that we have to live our life “this” way or “that” way, according to “these” beliefs, or what “he” says or what, “she” says, because….” You know, live life the ways it’s always been done, the way you do things around here.
While out on a morning walk, I was listening to one of my favorite inspirational podcasts, The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins. Jeff was interviewing Tim Ferriss, best-selling author, who believes wholeheartedly in living his life as an experiment. I soaked up the phrase, “…live life as an experiment” and literally, laughed out loud, “Ha! I’ve never thought of living my life that way!”
I’ve always lived according to someone else’s beliefs, followed the rules, believed what others told me, and colored inside the lines as perfectly as possible, rarely straying from the status quo or expectations of others. Sure, I’ve taken risks in my life: driven across the country, moved to different states, and traveled to different countries, but even these risks I took within some pretty tight parameters. I wouldn’t view my risking as consciously experimental. Experimenting is scary!
But why? What makes approaching life as an experiment and our lives as laboratories so scary?
I think it has a lot to do with not trusting ourselves, needing to know, and feeling certain, safe, and secure. I think it also has to do with needing approval, fear of judgment, and fear of rejection. If I live my life accordingly, perfectly, without veering from the expected or assumed path, others will approve of me, accept me, acknowledge me, love me. I’ll be safe from harm, criticism, rejection, or abandonment.
I think we’ve also been burned when we’ve experimented. We mustered up the courage to approach someone, try-on a new behavior, accept a radically unique job offer, perhaps in a new city, or simply do something different. Perhaps the outcome didn’t turn out as we hoped, and painfully, we sulked away feeling like a failure. Our one attempt at experimenting ended so badly that we vowed to never navigate off course again.
Perhaps it’s time to revisit our beliefs about fear and how we’d like to approach life.
In my quest to learn more about this idea of “life as an experiment,” I stumbled upon the article, How To Treat Life Like An Experiment by James Altucher. After reading the article several times and absorbing some of the benefits of treating life like an experiment, along with additional juicy inspirations, here’s what I’m discovering:
When we experiment, we nurture our curiosity, wonder, and investigative qualities. We open up, explore, and our creativity ignites. We begin to view life, and ourselves, as a mystery.
When we experiment, we test beliefs. Our thinking shifts. We loosen our grip on assumptions. We release what has always been…especially when what’s always been is no longer serving us. We create new beliefs, new perceptions, and fresh ways of moving through life.
When we experiment, we learn to let go of outcomes. We find meaning and reward in the process more than the results. We learn to release the need to control variables.
When we experiment, we live the present. The past and future fades because we’re not attached to outcomes. Instead, we’re focused on the experiment.
When we experiment, we expand and evolve. As we grow to love experimenting, we seek opportunities to run tests in other areas of our lives.
When we experiment, we go beyond our physical space and begin to explore our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We open up space and dive deep within ourselves where we can engage in meaningful, reflective, and personally intimate inquiry.
When we experiment, we cultivate experiences to share that models possibilities to others. As others observe our experimental process, they, too, begin to wonder about possibilities in their own lives.
When we experiment, we grow to trust ourselves, our experiments, our methodology, and discover OUR truth, OUR gravity.
“Every day, wake up and see what you can experiment with. Foods, lifestyle, exercise, people you associate with and how they make you feel, methods of meditation and self-improvement, methods of feeling contentment when everything seems to falling apart around you. It’s all experiment.” ~James Altucher
Sound fun? Inspiring? Scary? You bet! Risk sitting with whatever comes up as you envision life in the lab. Dive deeper into why you’re afraid of treating life as an experiment. Experiment with a different relationship with fear as you design your methodology for living life in the lab.
“Your life and the life of the entire universe. Learn what you can. Study it. Test it. Whenever you find yourself too absorbed in any one result, take a step back. “This is an experiment” say, and wait for the results or try something new. The scientist is happy. You have everything you need in your laboratory. Now go. Be a scientist of life. A lover of the results no matter what they are. And when you find something useful, learn from it and apply it.” ~James Altucher
Sending you inspiration,