For some of you, it might be a no-nonsense article on investing in your twenties. For others, it might be one of those fluffy “7 Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship” Thought Catalogue-esque posts.
For me, it was this Huffington Post article on why eggs are actually good for your health.
I was like, “YES! I can now eat eggs every day and not feel guilty about it!!” I was so happy that I danced out of the house and imagined that I was in a Macklemore music video. Because, you know, that’s what everyone does when they’re happy.
So I started eating TWO half-boiled eggs every morning. I assumed it was totally fine. I mean, the Huffington Post said so. It HAD to be right.
I did this for about a month, until my girlfriend stopped me and asked, “How do you know if the research is right? What if you die from a heart attack?”
Cue the sound of an awkward stop to my fantasy music video: Ttccchhhzzzttt!!
She had a point. I had to test this out for myself.
Luckily, I had a starting point. I had a report from a free health screening I did recently telling me that my LDL (bad) cholesterol was at 108, which, according to Raffles Medical, was “near optimal”.
All I had to do was take another health screening and compare my old and new LDL levels. If eggs were indeed bad for me, the numbers would prove it. And so I paid $62.05 and signed myself up for a second health screening package.
And the results? My egg binge turned out to be a horrible idea: My LDL level jumped to a whopping 144, which was in the “borderline high” range. WTF?! I stopped my daily egg intake immediately.
The Importance of Experimenting
I’m telling you this story because it was an important lesson I learned about applying a experimental mindset in life.
I’m not saying that the Huffington Post article was wrong or biased in any way. Maybe eating eggs every day is good for some people. I have no idea. But I learned that it’s important not to take any advice at face value, and to test and validate everything.
Think about it: Every day, we have blogs, newspapers and articles giving us different tips on how to live better, be more productive, eat healthier, get richer, etc. If you subscribe to dozens of blogs like I do, you probably get a gazillion tips like these in your inbox every day.
Advice like this has the potential to change lives, but they don’t always work out for everyone. The only way to know if it works for you is to simply test it out.
Creating a Experimental Mindset
Some people don’t like experimenting. They think it’s a too much of a hassle to quantify every aspect of life.
But you know what? You don’t have to be ultra-scientific and perform statistically significant hypothesis tests with 95% confidence intervals. You don’t even have to think about numbers if you don’t want to.
Whenever I test something, I usually just try different alternatives and see which one feels or fits better.
For example, when I wanted to improve my push ups, I tested to see if I performed better doing push ups early in the morning or late at night. I found out that early in the morning, my mind might be active but my body is weaker than a limp piece of taugeh. So now I do my push ups at night. (New IPPT, here I come!)
Here are some tests that I’ve done in the past:
- When I was feeling perpetually sleepy, I tested out a method to get 7 hours of sleep a night (Results: a better nightly routine to get my ass into bed on time)
- When I was learning trading, I tested out my strategies using trading software (Results: active trading has horribly low odds of success. I was better off investing in indexes)
- When I got frustrated with my commute time, I tested 4 different routes to get home (Results: shaving 10 minutes off by “discovering” a bus route I never thought of taking before)
Experimenting can make you richer, healthier, happier, and more productive. And sometimes, it could also save your life.
What aspect of your life can you test today? Let me know in the comments below.
Credit: Ramit Sethi for the concept of creating a “testing mentality”