More and more I have come to realize that there are no answers.
There is no best way to do something.
There is no path to success.
There are, however, likely best ways for YOU to do things. And there are many paths to success, some of which will suit you.
I have always had trouble with general prescriptions for happiness, health, or wealth. What makes you happy may not make me happy. I have tried programs that made other people stronger, and they just made me hurt and injured. Even emotional help falls into this trap. Self-help, a term I really don’t like, nevertheless needs to be about what works for YOU.
And the only real way to know what works for you is experimentation. Hence the N of 1. This refers to a trial or case study with a sample size of 1… just you. This sounds like a justification of “just do what you want”. But it is far from it.
While I believe that self-experimentation, or tinkering as Nassim Taleb called it in other forms, is the way to find what works (for you), I also believe there are some guidelines to help people out in this endeavor of self-discovery. I found them the hard way, but now pass them on to you.
There is much to be said for simply paying attention to what works for you and what doesn’t. Be mindful of those things that speak to you. Here I don’t mean your base instincts, but the problems and the issues in the world that really strike a cord with you. You should also pay attention to those things in other people that really bother you. We often see our biggest issues reflected in others.
Pay attention to what makes you feel good. And I don’t mean the things that make you feel good right now, though those are good, but the things that make you feel good down the road. Eating a big bowl of ice cream may make you “feel good” right now, but feel awful later tonight, and tomorrow, and when you step on the scale, and …
Know your brain (chemicals)
This sounds like a funny one, but it is the one that made the biggest difference to me. I have never been all that interested in personality tests and their results. But then I started the study of neuroscience to help me with my training. I discovered that the various amounts of the basic neurotransmitters in my brain have a huge impact on a variety of factors. For instance, in training, they effect how you should lift, how often you should lift, how much volume you can handle and how you should order exercises. When I started following this – after years of training trying a wide variety of things – my results were extraordinary. A basic questionnaire that we can provide can help figure out these levels (blood tests not required).
Keep a journal
Write it all down. I greatly prefer paper and pencil when it comes to a journal. I have tried electronic versions, but they aren’t the same. I love the feel of paper and pencil and it makes it easier to look back and really see what is, and what isn’t working for you. If you are really going to experiment, then you need to write down your hypothesis, how you are going to test it, and the results.
I am going to give you a very personal example. I was very sick for a number of years with a mysterious illness that hospitalized me five times in three years (kidney failure, muscle failure, digestive failure…). Every specialist I saw said that I was ok – at least from the standpoint of their specialty. I tried a number of different medications. So finally, on the advice of a naturopath, I went on a ketogenic diet. I spent more than a year on a ketogenic diet. I went from using a walker to being in the best shape of my life. Is that to say that the ketogenic diet is the best, the only one anyone should use? No. But it worked literal wonders for me, and it still does.
You want to be happy, healthy and wealthy? Then figure out what works for you. That is the path. Others can point the way to things to try, but you must “work out your own salvation with diligence” (the last words of the Buddha).