Just like many of you, I am participating in the ongoing process of restructuring my life, rethinking many formerly closely-held assumptions, and aligning my day-to-day life with a range of new habits and practices.
As a result, I’ve decided to perform some experiments. The title of this web site is “thirty two thousand days”, representing the length of a hypothetical long life. I have recently created a set of experiments that will operate over a three hundred and twenty day span – that is, one percent of 32 000. During this time I will be running a range of lifestyle experiments to explore what is the best possible way to live. I will be writing extensively about these experiments, and their consequences, during the next three hundred and twenty days.
A few of the experiments associated with the “one percent solution” include:
- starting a sabbatical from work
- selling my car
- moving to a cheaper residence (a shared apartment in a cheaper area instead of a luxury apartment in a more expensive area)
- minimalist lifestyle design
- performing a nine-day silent meditation retreat
- daily meditation
- daily yoga
- learning how to earn enough money to live on, without a conventional job
- daily writing – both personal journaling, as well as public blogging to report on the results of these experiments
I’ve already completed the first three items on this list. Specifically, I recently made arrangements with my workplace to take an extended leave, sold my car to experiment with a car-free lifestyle, and moved to a less expensive living space.
On the one hand, these changes are fairly superficial, dealing as they do with simple, day-to-day life circumstances. They don’t seem to be too transformational. On the other hand, as a result of these changes, I am now able to work full-time on this “320 day trial”, in the areas of lifestyle experimentation, lifestyle design, and lifestyle optimization. I believe that it’s worth it to invest one percent of my life in order to figure out the rest of it, to understand more completely what I am able to contribute to the world.
After all, many of us invest much more time than this – typically four or more years – in college, seeking to acquire some useful and valuable learning. We generally seek to become “more educated” people, better able to understand ourselves and others, and also “more employable” people, equipped with useful skills that enable us to earn money. Some of us – me included – invest additional years in graduate school acquiring advanced training in an even more specialized field. Sometimes these efforts help us discover our life purpose, and sometimes they don’t.
But how many of us truly invest the time in ourselves, to figure out what really inspires and drives us, and how we can best make a positive impact on the world and on the people around us? The emerging answer is – more and more of us. We’re getting organized on the internet, sharing best practices, and teaching and learning from each other about alternatives to the status quo of overconsumption, overwork, and the stressful, unhealthy lifestyles that have become all too common in society.
Some might claim that investing in ourselves in this way is “selfish”. However, this simply isn’t true. Until we are aligned with our highest purpose and working from an abiding state of happiness and inner peace, we will never be in a position to make our greatest possible contribution, to contribute our true gift to the world. To risk our own personal comfort and day-to-day life for this purpose is far from selfish.
Alternatives to the norm are becoming increasingly possible, and popular. By establishing ground rules for lifestyle first, and then transforming earning money into a side effect of this, it becomes possible to design an sustainable, low-impact, and minimalist lifestyle. This opens up a range of interesting prospects – the opportunity to travel extensively and open our minds to connecting to and learning from other cultures; the opportunity to detach from the 40 hour per week (or more commonly, 50 or 60 hour) lifestyle that dangles the carrot of success in front of our faces; the opportunity to live according to our own priorities rather than the prevailing (and often toxic) priorities of society.
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