Science and Math are subjects I’ve long forgotten about. I often think if I’d learnt about tax returns or compound interest instead of an experiment about the PH level of water, I would be a financial guru by now. The truth is, I would have forgotten that too. In reality, I could be using the skills that I actually learnt, such as conditional probability or Bayesian Reasoning, if only I knew how to apply them to daily life.
The scientific approach
Math aside, there’s much we can borrow from the experimental method in Science and apply to how we are approach life. How often do we repeat the exact same process and expect different results? Why am I not earning more money when I’ve been doing the exact same thing for 5 years?
At school, when you were doing an experiment. You had specific equipment. Followed a particular method. Expected to see one result, if everything went as planned. And if the results weren’t as expected, it was part of the process to explain what happened and suggest a possible reason why. Allowing you to repeat the experiment and change a variable to see if you can produce the desired results. This isn’t a failure, it’s Science!
So why don’t we use this method in day to day life? Writing each detail to allow experiments to be repeated, is a vital part of the process. So anyone can follow the method and get replicable results. Why else do we read the autobiographies of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk? So we can try their approach.
You might think your memory is the best way to remember the past but you make up stories, especially the further in time you get from an event. A daily journal is an easy way to track how you’re feeling in the moment. If we take influence from Science, we can use a framework of questions to guide our thinking and be consistent over time. Then we can look back to see how we were thinking or feeling at a particular moment and be able to relate that to other variables such as sleep or how we were eating. In theory, this allows you to look back and determine what works for you and what doesn’t. What you need more of and what you need less of. How you’ve progressed or regressed and suggestions of how to follow.
These are prompts I use to guide my journaling. I write a short description of whats happening in each area, at that time.
Money // Relationship // General Goals
What did I do yesterday?
What am I doing today?
These experiments are conducted out in the field, not in the lab. In real life. They’re true experiments because we can’t control every variable and by the very nature of life, things will change completely independent of each other. What we can do, is monitor the changes and possibly see what changes are effecting what. The more we can control, such as what we eat through the food we prepare, the more control we have over the results.
The independent variable is what is changing. Such as the amount you sleep each night. The dependent variable is what you’re measuring. Such as how you perform each day depending on the sleep you get. With this framework you will be able to see how exercise may be affecting emotions. How nutrition is impacting your focus. How your mood is at different times of the day or different days of the week. Why is that? It gives a wide base of information to interpret and help you improve. Your solution to problems is only as good as the question you ask. You can ask better questions when you have better data.
Keep the idea of experimenting fresh in your mind as your approach your day. What variables can you change to see if you get different results in your experiment?