A Series of Personal Experiments

Our lives are a series of experiments. One lesson after another, iterating to understand our fears and testing our limits. Typically, we expect those lessons to unfold as we surf through the waves of life. But why not accelerate the discovery process by crafting our own experiments? Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Experiment 1: Let a Friend Cut My Hair

I’ve always been picky about my hair. My hair appointments typically drag longer than expected because I need that extra layer to add more volume and match my original vision. In an attempt to surpass my pickiness, I asked my friend to cut my hair in any fashion.One rule: no trims or unnoticeable changes. She had no previous experience, and went into this whole thing thinking it was a joke until she found herself in my apartment bathroom with a kitchen scissor in hand. The chop chop echoed in the tips of my ears. Remain calm, remain calm Aaku, I repeated to myself. At the end of it, the haircut turned out fine with a couple of uneven strands here and there. It was definitely something different, the shortest haircut I’ve had in awhile. The biggest lesson I learned from this experiment is that everything is impermanent in life. Obsessing over one thing will only make you miserable and waste your valuable energy. Accepting the seasons of life will bring more happiness and less anxiety in your life. Hair eventually grows out, you’ll bounce back from the C you received in organic chemistry, and you’ll find someone better, funnier than the previous guy.

Experiment 2: Exclude Meat from Diet for a Month

I grew up eating my grandmother’s special chicken curry for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and devouring the buffalo momos at family gatherings. Meat has been a big part of my life. So after spring break, I decided to give up meat and follow a strict pescatarian diet. The first week was tough because my diet mainly consisted of kale and potatoes, leaving me hungry after every meal. But later onwards, I was forced to get more creative in the kitchen. I discovered the versatility of chick-peas, learned how to make more robust quesadillas, and tried the vegetarian bowl at Roots for the first time (the Southern is amazing). Our brains are naturally hardwired to follow our default habits. But our minds are also incredibly adaptable creatures, and we can train it to do whatever we want it to. By resisting desires and breaking our natural habits, we are better able to practice self-control.

Experiment 3: Run a 10 Miler

During winter break, I set out to run three times a week to train for my 10 miler. I completed 75–80% of my intended goal. This was only possible through my habit excel sheet. A habit excel sheet forces you to record the completion (or non completion) of your goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on your goal. I recommend sharing this habit excel sheet with a friend to hold you accountable for your goals, while also receiving positive encouragement when you reach key milestones. Tracking your habits motivates you to develop a consistent schedule and increases your chances of reaching personal goals.

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