July 8, 2020

Ten small experiments that might change your life

Most likely to be a scientist. That was the award that I got at the end of my 1st grade. Everybody around me knew that I could not stop yapping on about becoming a doctor and I think that was probably the award that was closest. I guess I also had a passion for math and science so it could have been that. I didn’t grow up to become a doctor though I did want to for the longest time.

I heard a podcast episode from Optimal Living Daily, which itself is a reading of different blog posts from authors and heard a blog post about the author experimenting with cutting back on coffee, which inspired me to write this post on other things that could be done (that I’ve done) that have helped me grow 1% every single day.

Ask how people can help you

A long time ago, I thought that what I received was good and that I should be happy with it. Wrong dishes would come out of the restaurant and even though it wasn’t what I ordered, I would accept it. Or there would be service fees with my bank account and I just thought “I guess it was my fault that I didn’t have enough money in the account”. Well that changed and I can’t pinpoint to when that changed for me, but now, I don’t feel afraid of calling or e-mailing customer service, providing them with what happened and then asking a very simple but powerful question “what can you do to help me?” I’ve gotten service fees reimbursed, money for products that are past warranty and all of this from a very simple question.

Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth

I’m sure we have all gotten into the routine of brushing our teeth with the dominant hand. You can probably do it while still half asleep too. But have you ever tried brushing with your opposite hand? It is really hard! You have to go much slower. You have to be more careful around your gums. You don’t have the control that you have with your dominant hand. It will make you think, be mindful and will fine tune your other hand for other things. I don’t do it every time but I have now gotten to the point where my opposite hand can be just as good as my dominant hand when brushing my teeth and that is really satisfying.

Uninstall an app that you use a lot

Here, you will have to use your judgment – you may not be able to uninstall e-mail or another work application that you have to use but I’m talking about apps such as Instagram or Facebook. Try going without it for a week and see what happens. I think you’ll find that you’re not missing out on very much, if at all, and that you will have a lot more time to do other things.

Practice deep breathing

When I feel stress, frustration or anger creeping into my life, I stop, notice it, and then take six deep breaths. The feelings do not always completely go away but I do feel like I’m in a much better place as it allows me to stop and think while being able to control something that I can control (my breath).

Get really nice socks and underwear to wear

It seems like it’s the little things but I wear socks and underwear pretty much all the time and it feels great to put on a nice pair of socks to start your work day. Your feet will thank you and your confidence will improve.

Ask for a discount

I noticed that when I travel to Asia, there is a lot more negotiating and bargaining than in Canada. Go up to a Starbucks or your favourite local coffee shop and when you get to the cashier, ask for a 10% discount. Don’t say why you want the discount. Notice how you feel when you ask for the discount – probably discomfort. You may also be pleasantly surprised when they do give you a discount just for asking. You just may realize that there is power when you ask for things.

Splurge on something you wouldn’t normally splurge on

Go ahead, I’ll wait right here. Take $500 (or something extravagant depending on your income) and spend it on something that you normally wouldn’t spend it on. It could be business class tickets when you normally travel economy. It could be fancy underwear and socks (see my previous experiment). Maybe it’s a nice work bag that you have been eyeing for a while. Notice the feelings that you get. Make that a goal for the money that you want to earn / work hard for.

Try a new workout

Recently, I have been getting into kettlebells. I’m sure lots of other people have discovered the great benefits of kettlebells but I was turned off for a while because I had no idea what to do with them, what kind of exercises I needed to do or how to be safe around them. When I did learn those things, I found my body to be fatigued from trying to balance and manipulate kettlebells and have loved it ever since. The same when I tried roller hockey. The same when I tried interval training.

Change the words that you use

When I joined Toastmasters, the club that I was at rang a bell every time you used a crutch word. So I challenged myself to not use any crutch words – not just at the meetings, but in every day situations too. Having a full day of practice made me improve very quickly compared to others who only stopped using crutch words at the meetings. The same can apply to certain words that you use – one trick that I learned from Tony Robbins is that the next time you feel angry or frustrated, notice the words that you use and change them into new words. Instead of feeling angry, say that you are feeling peeved. Instead of feeling happy, say that you are feeling exuberant. Instead of feeling fatigued, say that you are getting your second wind. The words and language that you use can change how you feel. One of my good friends never says that he is busy. Busy is a choice. Busy is your way of saying that you let your day run you over.

When you have a few minutes, organize

Maybe you are waiting for the water to boil. Or for you computer to restart to install some software. If you have a few minutes, organize your desk. Put away some things in the house that you’ve been meaning to put away. Or if you are at work with a clean desk, organize your calendar and understand what is on your to-do list for that day and for the coming week.

Fast

You have a lot of things to do at work. You get in, put your head down, headphones on and then start working. Hours pass. You run from meeting to meeting because everything is back to back. When you finally get back to your desk, your stomach starts chirping at you. Oh wow it’s 2 PM already and you managed to somehow breeze past lunch without feeling hunger pangs. But you’re feeling it now. The only problem is that you eat dinner early (4 PM). If you eat now, you’re not going to have the stomach for dinner.

Here’s another scenario – you’re on a road trip and it’s going to take a few hours before you get to your final destination. Stopping for lunch, you come to a gas station but they only food they have there is a hot dog that has been rotating in the oven for what may be ages, chips, chocolate bars and other things that you normally do not fuel your body with. You feel really hungry. Maybe even a little hangry. Do you suck it up and eat something that’s not exactly healthy?

In both of these cases, try something new. Try fasting. Skipping a meal or two when you are a regular eater is not going to hurt you. In fact, it might even help you to not eat junk. Or lose a few pounds.


Okay, so maybe I didn’t grow up to be a scientist, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t constantly experiment and try new things in my life. Maybe you’ll fail a lot but that’s okay, you will certainly learn a few things along the journey.

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