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Personal Experiment

Today I want to talk about doing a life changing experiment.  This personal experiment is all about seeing what kind of things your life would be better without.

I think its a really interesting idea and I’m thinking of doing it myself.  I just read about it yesterday and I’m thinking that maybe some of us can start doing it together.  I put this guy’s full experiment here in our 232 group.

So, here is the idea…

It’s about intentional self deprivation.  ”intentional” means that you do something on purpose.  ”Deprivation” means that you avoid something that you would generally want.  It sounds weird at first but it makes sense.  Just give me a chance to explain…

We are all living in a world where things are almost “too easy”.  And ironically, all of the modern advancements that are designed to make our lives easier and better can often end up making our lives far worse!

Think about things like, “watching TV, using Facebook, owning a car, playing on your cell phone, having junk food in the house”…..

All of these things are fun to do/use, but they can easily become a problem.  It’s so easy for all of us to become fat, lazy, and pathetic animals.

We all know we should watch less TV, go the the gym more often, eat healthier food, try to earn more money, etc.

The problem is that modern life is filled with so many ways to waste time or do unhealthy things.  The best way to live life is to do things that are both enjoyable AND helpful/healthy in some way.  Learning new things, exercising, spending quality time with your family and friends are all things that are both enjoyable in the short term and also useful and healthy things to do.  They are also, unfortunately, things that we often don’t do enough of.

Why?  Because life is filled with stuff that is so pathetically easy, that our little animal brains have a very hard time saying “NO” to something that is enjoyable in the very short term.

Sometimes it’s fun to watch your favourite show on TV, and sometimes it’s quite enjoyable to talk to your friends on Facebook or even eat unhealthy food.  But these activities are just SO EASY and SO CONVENIENT, that it’s quite possible to just waste so many hours doing these things, and very often not even get that much enjoyment from doing it.  It almost doesn’t make sense but we all know it happens, and happens easily.

Think about how easy it is to open up your computer or Ipad with no real goal at the beginning.  Maybe you think you are just going to check your email and then stop using it.  Somehow, 2 hours fly by and you mindlessly just start playing games, watching pointless videos, or having a boring or meaningless conversation with some friends on Facebook.  TV is even easier.  We go into the fridge or cupboard and grab some snacks, then sit on the coach and watch 3 hours of TV while pigging out.  I’m talking about eating when you aren’t really hungry, and watching TV shows that you aren’t even really interested in.  You just do it because it’s easy, and it gives your brain a chance to not think or worry about anything.

It’s really terrible and unhealthy behaviour, it’s not very enjoyable, but it’s so easy to do.  There are many things like this in modern life, and it’s our job to control these habits before they control us.  These habits suck our energy, kill our ambition, make us fat and sick, and make us poor and unhappy.

If you have any bad habit at all, even a small one that wastes too much of your time, I think the answer is simple (If you are actually serious about changing).

You NEED to stop it completely for a while.  If you have been watching too much TV lately, then you need to start watching NONE for a while.  If you have been eating too much chocolate or drinking too much coke lately, then you should try having NONE for a while.  If you have been wasting too much time on Facebook, then you should not use it AT ALL for a while.

Many people will tell you that you are being too “extreme” or going too “overboard” if you try to cut one of these things out of your life for a while.  The truth is that it may be necessary to be “extreme” for a while, if you really want to experience a healthy change.  (And trust me, I’m sure you want a big change).

If you eat too much chocolate, people will say, “try not to eat so much”.  If you waste too much time on Facebook or watching TV, then people will tell you to try using it less.  It sounds like the advice makes sense, but it almost never works.  If we just say that we’d like to “exercise more” or “watch less TV”, then nothing will happen.  The reason is that we have no rule to follow.  We can keep tricking ourselves by saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’ll only watch for a little while”.  Then we find that nothing happens.

If we take something COMPLETELY out of our lives for a while, it’s actually easier to not use it.  Watching no TV at all is much easier than watching only 30 minutes a day.  Eating no ice cream whatsoever, is much easier than just having one or two little spoons of it and then stopping.

I highly recommend you try taking one simple thing out of your life, and see how you feel after just 7 days.  Don’t use Facebook AT ALL for one week.  Don’t watch any TV at all for a week.  Don’t eat any chocolate or drink any coke at all for a week.  It’s not that hard actually if you just make a clear rule for yourself and make a little game/challenge out of this.

You will start to notice that your life may be actually better with less convenient ways to waste your time.  You might hate it at first, but you may start to love it later.  Don’t even worry about what you will do with the new free time, just make sure that you stop one bad habit for an entire week.  Even if you think it’s stupid after 2 or 3 days, just keep doing it anyway for the full week.  I promise, a week with no Facebook won’t kill you.  You may love it, you may hate it, but I’m sure you’ll learn something about yourself.  After the week, you can decide whether or not you want to continue doing it or not.  You just have to promise that you won’t “cheat” during the week.

The guy I’m recommending here talks about his program and he suggests doing each of these things for a month.  He is an expert on doing this and has a great and clear plan.  Again, it’s here for you to read in our community.   (Along with many other free things in there.  Movies, audio books, e books, high level chatting partners…)  We’ll keep adding to this and making it better and better for you guys :)

If you’d like to try changing one small habit for a week, I’d love for you to write about it in the comments.  Share your experience with us.  Let us know your plan (Don’t be shy and there is no need at all to feel embarrassed).

Do you think this is a good plan?  Why?  Do you think one week is long enough, or do you think a full month is needed for this?  Do you also believe things like Ipads, smartphones, TV, 24 hour Macdonalds, and the many other things in modern life that are supposed to make our lives easier and better are often making our lives worse overall?  Do you agree that today’s generation is in many ways more weak, lazy, and pathetic than generations of the past?  (50 years ago for example)  Please share any or all thoughts you may have about this in the comments.  Can’t wait to read them!

Andy :)

27 Responses to “Personal Experiment”

  1. Maribel Says:

    Hi Andy, You made a great point actually. I do agree with you to some extend. not doing a thing for one week is really helpful, I was kinda addicted to playing a game on Facebook for a while, then I had my test and I stopped playing it for almost a week, after my test I had no interest in playing that game anymore and used the opportunity to quit that time-wasting activity and never played again. I feel good now.
    but some times there’s no point in not doing these stuff like watching TV or using Facebook and cell phones or iPads. we usually do them in our spare time and its fun!! what else can we do if not doing them? we dont have a good alternative, that is part of our life nowadays, we can’t just cut on it. we are not that serious about changing our life, we dont feel we need to change this time to a more productive time because we don’t feel we have something more important to do. Now in my life which is too slow, I don’t have the motivation to quit watching TV or using Facebook. I think its fun and the only fun I have in these days. I can’t tell I promise quitting one of them except that game. I honestly have no strong driven motive now to stop doing them.

  2. lara Says:

    ок. I promise I won’t eat bread and other dough things for a week. it’s much easier said than done.

  3. José Says:

    I think the key here is to have a short term objective, in my case what drives me out of these easy and convenient activities is the will to learn new stuff. I recently got interested in Video so, on my spare time i tend to read a lot about Video. I also want to improve my english and became a better musician so i listen to china232 podcast and read books about music. Since i have so little time and so many things i wanna do i tend to spend less time in things that really doesn’t get me nowhere! Just my 2 cents!

  4. Jackie Chan Says:

    I totally agree with you.I found that I haven’t watched TV for more than 3 months. I understand I’m in my late 20′s if I don’t work harder today, I will become less competitive in the society. Every time before I wanna turn on the TV, I told myself “What is the best use of the time right now,if I turn on the TV, I will be ended up pathetic who will need to be supported the government. I don’t want to waste any time on the things which are fun and easy. It will lead me to failure.

  5. pt Says:

    Yeah Andy. That’s right everything what you said. And the only problem I have it’s with Facebook which annoying me so much! But the other thing is.. if I won’t be the part of this community that’s so difficult to know what’s going on around! Now people use Facebook messenger instead cell phones and when I deleted my Facebook account I missed so many things! Ooh I hate it.

  6. mike Says:

    TV, game, facebook, chat, web surfing, all of these add up to big concern, causing health problems. Finally, people begin to realize the side effect of modern life. I’m glad that I’m not alone.
    I usually spend all day on front of PC at office and home, and realized it will take its toll on me if I stay that way. So I’ve been trying to cut watching TV for years. And try to make more time to improve my tennis skill.
    I got an ipod at its first gen but only limit it to listen to 232 podcast or so, let lone to play game. Although, I’m an Android developer but not feel like to own a smartphone just because I concern that it would takes my time away.
    In my opinion, if you have lot of time in your hands, you don’t have to quit something cold turkey, it will be a self-torture, indulge yourself, if you feel like complete next to nothing in your spare time, squeeze time out of your comfort zone.

  7. Sergio Rodrigues Says:

    Hi Andy,

    Great point, but I have to admit easier said than done. In such a modern days to get deprived of TV, Facebook and so on is not na easy task.

  8. sera Says:

    hi, i totally agree with you, Andy.
    i decided to do that you talk about so i start doing yoga. Actually learning to do :) . i think that most people waste their times doing useless thing and i was one of them but after that i wont be one of them.

  9. Alvaro Says:

    Hello guys. This idea is simply AMAZING! I have to admit that I’m an addicted to Facebook and, most of the times, it highly affects my studies. I always say: “Ok, I’ll only check if I a have a new message and then I’ll restart to study.” But it never happens, I end up distracted with so many foolish things shared by my friends. And it’s completely true that “doing a little less” doesn’t work. Let’s try this profound change in “bad” habits.

  10. Érica Says:

    I really didn’t think that I had a problem watching too much TV or staying on Facebook for a long time. But after read your article I realized that I’m usually procrastinating doing healthy things like go for a walk and do more exercises to just stay on Facebook. So starting now I will not use my Facebook for at least a week and start using this time for a good walk and study more English! ;) Let’s try!

  11. Hamid Reza Says:

    Easier said than done, but I think that it is still a good plan. You asked how long is enough to quit an undesirable habit? I guess that depends on the type of habit. For someone who has addiction to smoking one week is not that long. But for some sort of addiction like playing game or goofing around on the internet or eating unhealthy food like junk food seems be to be a good plan. I used to have an addiction to face book. Seemed like searching through it without having any specif goal. I know that’s waste of time but finally I beat the odds and quit it. However, it didn’t take so long and at the moment when my windows page is coming up the first thing I do is opening my facebook page. I have no clue why but it happens every day unintentionally. What I did to control this misbehavior :) was to limit my access time to face bake to 5 minutes. Sounds like a plan and I think it did work out for me.

  12. Artyr Says:

    Hi Andy. U know I have been studying English for a 4 years now. It’s too pathetic that i still can’t speak fluently. And one of the reason of my slow English improvement is that i wasted a lot of my time for junk stuff which you mentioned here, whereas i could spend this time for my English skills. It’s ridiculous you know if i had spent more time for English i would have found a better, and more high-paying job

  13. Kinga, 23, Poland Says:

    Great topic again. Nowadays we have really huge amount of things to make our live easier, much pleasure like TV’s, playstations, smartphones. The main purpose of this things is delivering us very simple entertainment. People are so much overworked that they haven’t no time for real rest. Watching TV or playing games allow to forget about problems and stop thinking about anything. In fact these things grab us a lot of precious free time.

    The idea of taking one simple thing out of your life is maybe not very easy to do, but for sure is worth to do. My personal plan is to watch less TV because this is my huge problem. Every day I just take remote control, push the button and watching TV for three or even four hours. I know this is really unhealthy and I want to change it.

  14. Serentipiti Says:

    Good ponits about kicking a habit! but I wonder how one can make good habits, like getting more exercise, drinking more water and etc.

  15. shadia Says:

    I dont agree at all beacuse after we stop all this things what we gonna do our spare time just sitting around for nothing haha that is killing me its gud you know to manage your time not wasting much time on shopping internet….but totally we need to play games one time during the day beacsue some experts saying that games is gud for mind……

  16. jeanne Says:

    Hello Andy!
    I read that if u want to have a new good habbit – u should do it every day during one month. After 30 days u will do it automatically, it will become a habbit. thereby, if u want to drop smth so may be u should stop doing it for 30 days. I’m going to stop using facebook)actually, i’m not using it so often)

  17. ulasha Says:

    Wow! It is more easy to promise than to make. We really became addicted to things that make our life fun and convenient. I live in country neighborhood, surrounded by forest near river (it takes 20 min to get river by walking). But!!!!! Every evening after come back home from my work i have my dinner behind TV. I say “I am tired, I need some rest, bla-bla-bla.”
    I promise: No TV in the evening, walk to river every day after dinner. Thanks, you pushed me.

  18. Negar,Iran Says:

    Before suggesting any way for how to cut out some bad habits, it seems more necessary to internalize emotionally and mentally what is really bad about having those types of habits. For instance, if I mentally do not reach to the point that spending a lot of time on net surfacing or watching TV,actually would have no positive outcome in my life and even worse, just take up some valuable time for doing some valuable activities ,then, how can I be motivated to start quitting those habits? Even if I start and manage to stop them,I’ll do those habits again with more enthusiasm, as I am not rationally justified and just have been deprived of them for a while. Therefore, it seems to be some kind of psychological process rather than just proposing how and when to start cutting out those habits.
    Thanks Andy.

  19. Yuri Says:

    Nice thoghts, but it is not so easy to start changing the life!!!

  20. Carol Says:

    I totally agree when you say some of those things, like watching TV or surfing on the internet, can kill our time. I could totally relate when you talked about turning on the computer and, when you notice, two hours have gone by. Doing such things really prevent us for doing other things that are more productive and even better for us: instead of using the computer, we could spend more time with our friends and family or we could learn something new.
    On the other hand, sometimes using your spare time doing nothing is just fun, and sometimes we can do it just for the hell of it. I mean, we also deserve some fun, don’t we? But, if it becomes something that takes too much time of our days, then it is something we should try to cut out.

    My problem, personaly, is about procrastination. I tend to spend to much time just thinking about doing something, or going around the house with no purpose… Since I’m preparing to go to college, time is the key for me, and I need to be able to deal with my lazyness and try to get more time in my already hectic life.

  21. Padid Says:

    Hi everyone,
    I suppose, quitting an addiction depends on how well determined we are. The point is human beings have been designed to be social, thus, leaving social networking sites for a long period of time seems somehow impossible but from another point of view, it appeals to me as notion of not eating unhealthy food or smoking any kind of cigarettes. For instance, I have stopped drinking cokes for more than 3 years and almost forgotten the joy of tasting it and when I see their advertisements all over the place I realize that how ridiculous they are and I couldn’t notice them before quitting.
    On the whole, changing our physical life-styles could have had positive influences mentally and psychologically. Quite like the idea…

  22. Ivan Kolev Says:

    Hello Andy. Good discussion on … so call it. Personally I never had exactly these problems …. but as a human being , I have problems of course. Here I want to tell you how I managed to defeat all the bad habits. Maybe in the beginning it was just a sport .. martial artist who taught me faith, discipline, never give up on something i was started. I want to say to all people here in this blog if you have these problems, how to solve them.

    Andy is right…. that the first thing HE say …. to stop doing things that waste your time.
    1. this is the most important thing.
    2. to have goals in life.
    I know that is easier said … and it is difficult to achieve .. but NOTHING is EASY and FREELY in this life. If you want something, you have to pay the price for it!

  23. Val Says:

    Of course, this whole idea makes sense. But we have to remember that people are different. Some of them don’t have will power at all. So this tactic would be very useful for them.

    For example, I don’t watch TV and try to read and watch only the information I’m interested in. As for sport, I do fitness almost every day.

    But as for healthy food… this’s more difficult question. I was used to try to eat healthy. But my experience showed that there is not completely healthy food in our world. All products have nitrates, carcinogens, food additives and so on. Even if you try to eat natural food, it’s not natural. So I don’t see much benefit in not eating of what you love to eat.

    Just one example: We all know that smoking, drinking, eating junk food is bad for your health. But recently I was at a resort on my vacation. And there were plenty of old Europeans in their 60-s-70-s who was drinking and smoking all the time. And it seems that they have been doing that during for all their lives. But… they were soooo energetic and full of strengh=) Not every young person has so much energy, really.

    Of course, I don’t say that smoking, drinking and pigging out is good. I just want to say that healthy lifestyle don’t guarantee you happy healthy life. At the same time, eating not very healthy doesn’t always have bad effect.

    I think, that love to life, constant self-development and positive thinking are true keys to happiness.

    And sometimes self-deprivation can be very stressful for a person and have bad consequences.

    You need to listen to yourself. If you feel really bad because of some your activity, of course, you should stop doing that. But if you enjoy doing something, even if it’s not very useful and wastes your time, why shouldn’t you do that? There is not very much enjoyment in our modern stressful life. Create it by yourself.

    Be friend to yourself, but do everything reasonably. Set right goals and reach them.

  24. amin Says:

    hi there!
    I totally agree with you on this topic and I think I got the point.
    From where I stand,big companies try to get us use to do some stuff or use some devices that are not that much essential for us and ,in most cases,make us waste more and more time and . if i want to present an crystal clear example, I’d ratter mention iPad. from my point of view iPad is not useful and handy for most of the people since it is neither as big and capable as a laptop,nor as small and easy-carrying as a smartphone. hence some well-reputed universal brands do their best to make people believe that they need such stuff and they should purchase one(or more). this road down , most of the people turn to some consumers that waste a lot of their precious time everyday and become too lazy to do a bunch of stuff they are capable of. more over , they would avoid giving a try to new stuff that are strange for them (strange things look more difficult in most cases),as long as the only thing they are eager to is being comfort,without facing any certain problems.
    One of religious acts that is somehow typical in Iran, is fasting during a certain month of year ,called Ramadan. in this month you ought not to eat and drink any thing from sunrise to sun set.
    on this period of year ,which a day lasts for about 17 hours, it seems to be a kind of big struggle or huge challenge if you fast for 30 days in a row, but If you do it just for some days ,you can see the change. it turns out for you that you are not that much food dependent and since food is one of crucial essentials for human beings ,you would feel so strong and self-dependent . it perhaps help you feel released of all that fears and laziness you had already.
    beside the example of quitting Facebook ( i was a kind of Facebook addicted :D ) that really worked out for me some months ago , the one that I came up with can be useful ,too. give it a shot ! it really worth it :)

  25. grace Says:


    Easier said than done.. Once I heard one guest on the radio which I listen to that if you do something for 30 days straight it will definitely become your habit.
    There’s nothing wrong in doing those habits mentioned above, in my opinion because they give us a little bit of happiness in the sense that we do it because we like it. The only Thing that makes a habit bad is when we do it way too much that it already affects our activities of daily living.

  26. Jim Zhao Says:

    Hey,thanks for your wonderful idea. I did my experiment from this firday. So far so good. It’s almost 3 days for me not to watch the shows on my iPad. Acturally it is difficult to control myself in these days. Every time i wanted to see just an episode, I recalled what you said and tried my best to pay attention to other things, such as cleaning the room, recognizing the photoes in the laptop, reading a book that i am interested in, but never have time to read it before.

    Now I found that watching the shows wasted so much time. I can do many things if i don’t just sit and watch the shows. I will continue my experiment for a whole week at least.

    Best Wishes

  27. sara Says:

    you have a great idea as usual.I really enjoy reading it.It is a like a bucket full of cold water someone splash on my face ,it makes me wake up and looks around and find out there are another ways to spend our time too.thank u so much.nice time guys.

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