5 things I wish I knew before I started self-experimenting
In short, I like to think of self-experimenting as discovering whether there is a better way of doing things. What makes me more “super” according to my individual interpretations and individual experiences.
I want to walk you through 5 reflections of mine regarding self-experimentation. I will cover embarrassment, confusion, frustration etc – both problems you may encounter and some personal tips on how to overcome them.
Let me get to the above picture right away, which you likely find a bit strange. Because finding what to write about in the first blog posts of mine hasn’t been easy. I don’t know exactly what you want me to write about yet, so I had to choose for myself for now. I ended up deciding to write about some of the elements I have on my 5-a-day plans for this week. And one of the things on my lists for this week was sleeping with my mouth taped – forcing myself to practice breathing through the nose. The plan was to make this it into an “actionable” (you will get to know this concept within Superstate pretty soon) focusing on explaining why it did it, how it is done, who inspired me to test it and so on. I will do that, but as I sat down I started to reflect on some lessons I felt could be important to share early on with you all.
Because the experiment with the tape directly made me think of #1 below. And #1 is something I want to encourage you to overcome. Then, when #1 first was started the creativity kept coming and suddenly there was a list of 5 things. I guess possibly the Lion’s Mane I’m drinking right now to be part of what caused this 😉.
Here it goes:
#1 You will often feel embarrassed
When doing self-experimentation you will likely feel like an outlier from time to time. Especially when you are around other people not used to the things you do. You can be sure people will look strange at you when you e.g. tape your mouth when sleeping, being at the gym doing almost the opposite as everyone else, putting butter in your coffee, wear multiple wristbands at once, making provisional standing desks everywhere, don’t eat when everyone else is eating since you are fasting, drinking mushroom mixes, giving yourself electric shocks…. the list goes on and on.
It will most likely take some time to get used to it, but you will get more and more comfortable and convinced doing it over time. Especially when you (and the ones looking strange at you) notice the results over time.
I would also like to emphasize (which often is misunderstood) that even if I do something once or a few times it doesn’t mean I will continue to do it consistently. A test is a test. So even if I did tape my mouth for one night while sleeping this week it’s likely not something I will continue to do. In fact, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t continue with it even before I tried it. It is always a “cost/benefit” to it all. In this case I had, before I started, decided that the benefit of it would have to be quite huge for me to take the daily costs of it. Since, obviously it is not very romantic to sleep with tape over your mouth and neither had I any suspicions of me not breathing mostly through my nose while sleeping.
Nonetheless I had to try. It was just a tiny experiment that could have turned out amazing for me (as it has for others). You never know.
Keep in mind
- You only look stupid for someone not knowing what and why you do it. Fellow Superstaters cheer for you and admire your weirdness.
- If you wear e.g. 2-3 wristbands at once to a conference or in social settings you will attract those interested in discussing such things – increasing the rate of interesting small talks you have.
- When you start digging you will often find “famous” outliers doing the exact same things. When you are able to tell that you have learned from Navy Seals their best breathing method for tackling stress, you follow the same sleep coach as Christiano Ronaldo, do part of Tony Robbins morning routine etc suddenly it’s not perceived as so stupid anymore by others. I will help you finding such examples. In fact for every actionable you find at Superstate we made sure to include a field for registering such references.
# 2 You will often find it hard to measure effects
You will most likely experiment with a lot of things. Sadly, there is no universal way to measure the effect of every experiment. How would you measure the benefit of sleeping with your mouth taped? Not necessarily straight forward. At least when you likely breath quite well already while sleeping and possibly don’t notice any significant subjective difference while waking up either.
Even though it is best to measure it objectively in some way you will, after having experienced a heightened Superstate enough times, start to get a quite good “gut feeling” of what works for you or not.
I will do my best to highlight actionables that has had the most noticeable effect on me to at least give you a head start for your own process.
What might help
- The use of benchmarking and technology are helpful. We will make sure to cover this in Superstate going further.
- Realizing (or at least trust) that even small improvements add up. Several, even 1 %, improvements across different areas grows quite well over time – at least if you do things daily.
- As I like to focus on core elements of humans whether it is sleep, diet, movement or other you will likely experience several ripple effects. If I’m able to sleep 5 % better one night I might be able to be 5 % more productive, lift 2 % heavier etc. Be in it for the long run.
- Often it has helped for me to ask WHY a couple of times to get to what I am really after or at least something I’m able to measure quite easily. For instance, I long had an ambition to have more energy (which is quite subjective to measure). When I started to ask WHY things like having enough energy to exercise every day or something similar appeared which is much easier to measure (in fact just wearing a smartwatch or similar often does it for you automatically).
# 3 You will often be confused
Not only is it hard to measure effects, it is often hard to pinpoint the exact thing causing the heightened Superstate. Especially when you are really inspired at least I tend to do a lot of things simultaneously. That is of course not the best thing if you are trying to follow a “scientific research protocol”, but that just how it is for most of the time. It becomes frustrating.
Get used to being wrong. The human body is really complex and you can’t control every external event. What you believed to have an effect on its own might only have an effect in combination with something else. E.g. you got amazing result on your new training program and believe “this is it”. On the other hand it might be that you previous training program was just as good but now you had a period where your e.g. recovery and digestion were more optimal. Also, what works for you one day may not work for you another day (we will get back to the importance of cycling through your actionables in 5-a-day plans and have an arsenal of alternatives).
You can be crazy of course and measure everything, but here at least for me the cost/benefit comes into place again. I aim to let the self-experimenting fit into my current lifestyle – adjusting to me. Not in a way that I must sacrifice a lot just to be able to do it. As I see it it’s only small tweaks I do to get an extra edge daily.
What might help
- Get to know the concept of thinking in systems rather than goals (inspired by Scott Adams book “How to fail at almost everything and still win big”). I will likely make a separate blog post on this topic since I use it on so many areas of my life.
# 4 You will often fight yourself
Ok. So you will look stupid, it is hard to measure, you will be wrong over and over, confused and frustrated. On top of that you will have to fight your current habits and routines. And changing habits are hard! You already know this so lets rather focus on ways to turn it around (which are what I wish I knew before starting).
How to turn it around
- Even though it is hard, how to change habits is a well-covered topic. There are several things you can do. Even though you probably want to know many, I will mention only one thing for now and that is to “make triggers” related to what you already do. If you e.g. want to test a new breathing technique do it every time you empty the dishwasher, every time you enter your car etc.
# 5 You will feel it is all worth it
Of course. Making a list with 5 reflections, at least one of them should be a bit positive. The whole list could have been filled with positive things, but I want to make sure to cover the hard work as well.
Despite all the hard work, most of all I want to make sure you understand that all the struggles are going to be worth it!
You will experience there is a universe of different things and areas you can explore and experiment with. New exciting things are coming up all the time. And it doesn’t necessary mean “new” directly. Some of the most profound actionables are things that have been practiced for thousands of years, but not being popularized until recently. I am pretty sure that I will be doing different things than today in the years to come.
You will get amazed of what you are capable of! Make sure to enjoy the journey.
What to do
- Keep doing the reinvented 5-a-day and you will be fine.