All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Greetings from LA and Oahu!
This week we’re sharing how the scientific method can solve real-life problems, the benefits of a plant known as Ashwagandha (and where to get it!), a slightly offensive comic (‘cause it’s good to be triggered sometimes), and why your reading habit should be as automatic as breathing (plus book recommendations from our tribe).
Our challenge is for you to have a difficult conversation that you’ve been putting off.
The scientific method consists of the following steps…
- Observe & Describe a Problem
- Make a Guess (Hypothesis) for What’s Causing That Problem
- Test the Hypothesis
- Draw Conclusions & Refine the Hypothesis
What if we used the scientific method in our everyday lives?
Far too often we think of problems, consciously or unconsciously, as unsolvable — we assume that we have little or no control over internal or external outcomes.
We respond reactively rather than proactively.
We give ourselves far too little credit for what we’re able to control, thus allowing ourselves to shove off responsibility onto someone or something else.
Sometimes it’s easier to “accept the things I cannot change” than it is to have the “courage to change the things I can”.
But the truth is that for the vast majority of problems we face, we are more than capable of influencing outcomes — by changing our attitude or changing our behaviors.
Think of the problem scientifically…
- What’s the problem?
- What’s a possible solution?
- How can you take action and test that solution?
- What did you learn?
… and then take action. Solutions might be thought of… but they’re of no use until they’re acted upon.
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We’re huge fans of The Oatmeal. Matthew Inman’s comics are equal parts hilarious, thoughtful, and provocative. They get you thinking and they get you laughing.
A few years ago I (Mike) read his comic, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, and there was one frame that stuck with me. It’s controversial and maybe even a little offensive — it certainly flies in the face of most lovey-dovey inspiration we encounter today. But there’s truth to it, the truth that’s good to ponder.
Here it is.
It only takes a little bit of physical activity to lift a person’s spirits — even something as easy as walking for 20 minutes or doing breathing exercises — and as Inman points out, it’s a fee we should gladly pay.
Reading can change your life.
Actually, your reading habits do change your life, whether you like it or not. A study at Edinburgh University followed more than 17,000 people for over 50 years from 1958, tracking childhood reading abilities and future success. The researchers concluded that, “Children with higher reading and math skills ended up having higher incomes, better housing and more professional roles in adulthood.”
This isn’t mind-boggling if you think about it. Readers are learners. And learners are successful. And research indicates that the more you read, the more successful you’ll be. But how do you improve your reading habits? In an article titled, How To Read More — A Lot More, Ryan Holiday knocks down the three main barriers people have to reading…
Not Enough Time – “The key to reading lots of books begins with stopping thinking of it as some activity that you do. Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.
Carry a book with you at all times. Every time you get a second, crack it open. Don’t install games on your phone–that’s time you could be reading. When you’re eating, read. When you’re on the train, in the waiting room, at the office–read. It’s work, really important work. Don’t let anyone ever let you feel like it’s not.”
Not Enough Money – “If I had to steal books to support my reading habit, I would. Thankfully you can buy some of the best literature ever published for pennies on Amazon.
But forget money entirely when it comes to books. Reading is not a luxury. It’s not something you splurge on. It’s a necessity.”
But Why? – “Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you. Save yourself the trouble of learning from trial and error–find that point. Benefit from that perspective.
The purpose of reading is not just raw knowledge. It’s that it is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and make your life better. There is very little else that you can say that about. Very little else like that under $20, too.”
Don’t know where to start your reading journey? Here are 5 fiction and nonfiction books our tribe has recommended this year…
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
- The River Why by David James Duncan
- Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
- Be Water, My Friend by Shannon Lee
Here are some other awesome articles that caught our attention this week…
- A Very Big Little Country by Katherine LaGrave
- Futurists Have Their Heads in the Clouds by Erik Hoel
- Save the Scribe by Mary Wellesley
This Week’s Photo
“Gino Rea of Buildbase Suzuki rides during the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch in Longfield, England, on October 17, 2021.” via The Atlantic
This Week’s Riddle
Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!
If you’ve got me, you want to share me; if you share me, you haven’t kept me. What am I?
This Week’s Question & Answers
Answer this question — either privately or by replying to this email. If your answer inspires us, then we’ll ask for permission to include it in a future email!
How do you keep yourself from procrastinating on important tasks?
And here are some of the tribe’s answers to last week’s question regarding negative self-talk:
“In answer to this week’s question about reversing negative self-talk, I knock on my head with my knuckles, tell myself to stop it, and ‘change the subject’.” – Barb Swoluk
“This may sound a little basic, or like a no-brainer, but when I am experiencing negative self-talk thoughts, my best way to flip it around is to answer myself in my head. I imagine the Kermit meme, dark me with negative self-talk and light me having to respond.
Usually, these types of thoughts are intrusive, so when I catch myself thinking them I just have to stop for a moment, and then reply with a logical answer to myself why that’s wrong.
Once I bring a logical answer into the equation, something I can’t argue with, my brain just goes ‘oh that makes sense’ and lets the negative statement go.” – Abigail H.
This Week’s Challenge
Have the conversation you’ve been putting off. Maybe you need to remind someone that you love them. Maybe you need to offer your condolences, hash it out with a friend, or bring something into the light before it festers. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary.
Until next week,
Mike & Alec
Riddle Answer: A secret