Are you “living life as an experiment?” I finished reading the amazing book Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron last week and loved it so much, I went back through it and wrote down several pages of notes. As I was reading through them this morning over coffee, one jumped out at me as I try to live life as an experiment…
LIVING YOUR LIFE AS AN EXPERIMENT – adopt an attitude of “I’m not sure what will help in this situation, but i’m going to experiment and try this.”
As I re-read my notes, I realized how powerful this idea has become for me. As it turns out, I spent years and years doing things that felt like life or death – certain jobs that made me crazy, with people that made me crazy, doing things that made me want to jump out the window. I made huge life decisions not with the mindset of experimentation but with almost a life or death feeling.
As it turns out, I’m very good at living inside my own head and getting totally lost in a task, to the point of forgetting to be present and mindful of my entire life experience. As I’ve grown older and started to focus on my experiences, I’ve started to realize that that while being in “flow” is good, being ignorant to the world around me is not – it’s quite literally been keeping me from having a mindful, present life.
I recently took a step backward and asked myself “Okay, I’m living life as an experiment, then what’s an experiment?”
According to Wikipedia: An experiment is an orderly procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, refuting, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated.
I’ve started to realize that I’ve allowed myself to not have an explicit hypothesis for anything. I’ve allowed myself to assume there are good reasons for doing things. All those have been subconscious and I’ve allowed myself to live a life where I’m not asking the conscious questions, nor am I living life as an experiment. And if I am, I’m a sloppy excuse for a scientist!
When I read that quote from Living Beautifully, I think something clicked and I started to write down and consciously think about what experiments I’m currently running and have pledged to gain insights into my thinking – and gain control of my life.
My most recent career experiment was to try to define the sort of work I want to do, on my own terms and to put myself into a small company or start up to validate if I actually like the chaos and uncertainty it brings. In the past I had flirted from job to job looking at each new challenge as an opportunity to make more money or find a new challenge to keep me excited. Instead, now I’ve got a working hypothesis that I’m testing in real-time.
I am also running an experiment with this blog and site as I try to connect with others struggling with living a conscious, present life. The hypothesis is that there are a ton of people, just like me who are struggling to wake up, they know there is more out there, but it feels awkward and scary to consider a totally different way of living.
With both these experiments, I’ve felt myself slipping back into being asleep, and have had to remind myself that I’m in the middle of an experiment! It’s a weird, uncanny feeling to be honest, but I’m pretty sure I’m on to something. I’m documenting the results and adjusting my experiments on a regular basis.
I’m wondering, does this resonate with you, are you running any experiments? How are you living life as an experiment?