February 18, 2015

Life is too important not to experiment on.

Inspired by a writer I admire, I’ve decided to add a dash of science to my life. I’ll be engaging in a series of month(ish)-long experiments with the goal of learning things about myself and my habits.

To be honest, there’s a long list tacked up to the back of my brain of things I feel guilty about not doing more (exercise, stretching, writing) or not doing less (drinking, junk food, procrastinating). Rather than continue to feel guilty about these things, I’ll selectively add or eliminate them from my life to see if they’re really worth worrying about. If so, I’ll have learned a new way to make my life better, and if not, then I’ll have one less thing to fret over. Win-win!

Experiment #1

For the first experiment, I’ll be abstaining from my favorite (and only) forms of casual drug use: coffee and alcohol. Since the timing is right, I’ll be coinciding this with the 46 days of the season of Lent. For years, I’ve enjoyed one cup of coffee and alcoholic beverage per day with rare exceptions. But lately, that usage has been creeping up: a small refill of my coffee cup in the afternoon, a beer from the fridge at work before going home to a glass of wine with dinner. As with any habit, I wonder the extent to which drinking coffee and alcohol are more than just things I do, and actually a part of who I am. Specifically:

  1. Will I miss coffee and alcohol? Have they been fulfilling any unknown emotional needs of mine, which I’ll now feel?
  2. Will I feel better without them? Have they been extracting any unknown costs from my energy or well being?
  3. How hard will it be to go without? Am I addicted?

This experiment will be the longest amount of time I’ve gone without coffee since I began drinking it regularly about 6 years ago, and the second-longest I’ve gone without a drink since I turned 21. Here’s to learning about myself!

The Future

David (the writer I mentioned) has engaged in a number of experiments which interest me. Among the ones I’d like to try out in the future: