Experiment #28: Count Bees, Spot Elephants, Discover a Planet

I heard about this idea on my new favorite podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression. On this episode, he talks to someone helps herself get out of slumps by logging onto Zooniverse, joining in on crowd-sourced research for great scientific, literary, historical, and artistic causes. 

This is from Zooniverse's Serengeti Wildebeest Count Project

This is from Zooniverse's Serengeti Wildebeest Count Project

I loved what the interviewee said:

"Makes me feel like a part of the world, even when I'm lying in bed for a few days. They have great guides on how you contribute to the research, even down to how you spot different kinds of rumps on gazelles...It's easy to use and it makes me feel productive, like I'm helping someone do something," says the interviewee.

Be Helpful While Just Hanging Out

"Occasionally you'll be flipping through the slides as you're doing your categorizing work, and all of the sudden you'll get a photo of an African elephant. That always really excited me because I found them really beautiful. Once I was really stuck because I had just done a load of photos. It was all 'wildebeest standing,' 'wildebeest eating,' or 'zebra standing' and then all of the sudden I got this amazing photo of a pack of elephants with babies in the middle of them. It just made my whole day."

You can choose from any number of  projects on the Zooniverse site, following your own interests and curiosity. 

zooniverse projects

Do you think that helping out with environmental research in this easy, low-stress way might be a good experiment for you to try today?

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!  

Experiment #27: Keep a People Boundaries List

people boundaries

The past two days have been trying days for me negotiating my friendships. Or I thought they were friendships. (It's no longer clear one way or the other.)

Regardless, I've had to figure out how to deal with these relationships. Particularly the sadness, abandonment, and rejection. 

So, I fired up Evernote (you can use whatever app you prefer, obviously!) and put down a heading, Decisions about Boundaries. Let's call it the Boundaries List

Then, I wrote down some subheadings -  Focus on, Beware, Be Cautious, Acquaintances, Non-Starters One-way Streets, and Let Sleeping Moments Lie.  Under each one, I put in as many as names as possible, including the two people from the last two days' roadtrip through Disappointmentia.

  • Focus On - Budding friendships or relationships that I am going to focus on, rather than wallowing over all the ones that went belly up. Funny how all the sad memories come clamoring against barricades when one friendship hits a bad note.
  • Beware - stay away from these people or treat them like a pair of dead socks. Distance. 
  • Be Cautious - they didn't intend to hurt you. You just got pushed down the pyramid of priorities. Your expectations are high these ones because they're probably great people who bring beauty to your friendships. But they dip into life like submarines. 
  • Acquaintances - this could be the hardest group to do, too. This is where you should put people like mine, or those who have long made you question who you are to them. There will be pain. But seeing their names here will help let go.
  • Non-starters - you tried to strike up a conversation or shoot for a coffee, but ended up with a bag of nothing. Oh well. 
  • One-way Streets - There may be some overlaps here with previous groups, but this one should really be for repeat-offenders. 
  • Let Sleeping Moments Lie - I feel like this is the artsy sister of Be Cautious, that sister who has wanderlust and seems too busy notice that you've let her crawl into your heart. Sometimes, like flings or affairs, it was just a moment between two friends. And now that moment must sleep.  Let it sleep.

At first, I had Focus On at the bottom of the list, but I found that that made me focus on the negative. So, top of the list, it went! And what a difference. I get to mourn what was lost but set my sights on the new friendships that may perhaps be those ones that will outlive all the rest.

Try this experiment and let us know how it went on the forums, or be a trooper and join Slack! It's wondy. 

Mina Demian lives in Stockholm, Sweden where he Writes, Codes, and Plays Music. He also Invents Amazing Words in the Beautiful Voyager Slack Group. 

Mina Demian lives in Stockholm, Sweden where he Writes, Codes, and Plays Music. He also Invents Amazing Words in the Beautiful Voyager Slack Group. 

Experiment #26: Bring Color Into Your Life

Last week, we saw housepainters priming the house out our back window. We were filled with curiosity (especially me, a curious cat for neighborhood haps). What color would they go with? Would it be "startup grey", the most common color of the San Francisco neighborhood where we live? 

Aha! A sparkling, snappy blue!

Aha! A sparkling, snappy blue!

From early morning tea to evening dinner, getting to look out the window at the new bright blue house has genuinely brightened our lives. It seems so simple, but makes a difference in our lives. Just a color change! 

Here's another example. Check out this house. It's just a short walk from where we live:

I can't love it more.

I can't love it more.

There's something about the brightness that suggest strength, optimism and positivity. 

We may not all be ready to paint our houses ala Caribbean dream (though I wish we would), but bringing color into your daily life -- in the form of painting a room, or just painting a piece of furniture -- can melt a little stress and help pump up the good vibes. Finding and enjoying those positive feelings is what helps us ride the wave

A truly incredible row of houses in the Dominican Republic.

A truly incredible row of houses in the Dominican Republic.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try! 

Experiment #25: Let Your Phone Die And Roam With A New Friend

stress relief

My friend Nell posted this one on Facebook earlier today:

Great idea: Let your phone die for hours and walk around the city with a new friend like you're in your twenties. #bliss

This struck me as a truly great idea. I've had a couple of accidental phone-free walks with new friends recently. They helped me see my surroundings with fresh eyes. Could be the same for you, if you decide to give this experiment a go.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try! 

Experiment #24: Tell Yourself a Pump-Up Story (with Soundtrack)

rockydown.jpg

When I truly need mojo...I put on the Rocky 4 soundtrack. According to a highly unscientific poll I conducted (with friends and acquaintances born in the 70s), this Cold War Rocky made a strong impression on many people who continue even to the present day to dip into "Hearts on Fire" or "Burning Heart" as needed.

Rocky 4 was not high on subtlety.

Rocky 4 was not high on subtlety.

Listening to Eye of the Tiger -- which was originally released in Rocky 3 and then "recycled" in Rocky 4, Wikipedia notes -- doesn't only make fans like me recall a heated Man vs Machine showdown, or an unparalleled training montage (and yes, you should watch all 7 minutes of this video):

It also harkens back to the story of a young and poor Sylvester Stallone trying to sell his script. A born underdog with a paralyzed face, Stallone managed to sell the script and himself to the studio.

(The backstory is up for debate. This 1979 New York Times profile tells one story. Snopes suggests there's another.)

I use the young Stallone chutzpah as a lever to help myself out of rejections and failures. I slap an abbreviated Rocky 4 onto Spotify -- there really are only 5 songs worth listening to -- and imagine myself running through the snows of Siberia. Yeah, I can face the job search again. If Rocky can chop massive firewood with a beard, I can do this.

Feel free to use Rocky as needed, or think back to a story that pushes you back into mojo. Preferably it includes music too. Then watch your fortunes turn around.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try! 

Experiment #23: Notice Your Stop

limit negative thoughts stress relief

It can take years to figure out the simplest things. For me, one of those simple things is that there are certain sentences I’m simply not allowed to finish. I've learned over time they're not good for my mental health.

Example: “If only…”

If a sentence starts “If only…” I’m not allowed to finish it. It's simple.

notice your stop

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!

Experiment #22: Change Your Body Temperature

Henri Matisse, Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window, 1922.

Henri Matisse, Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window, 1922.

I've found that when I'm stuck in cyclical thinking, or just feeling stuck changing my body temperature actually makes a difference. A hot bath is one way to go, but lately I've been finding a cool breeze is often what I need most.

Try removing a layer of clothing or opening a window when you're stuck in your thoughts. It’s simple, but it actually helps bring you back into the moment. The goal is getting grounded. Changing your body temperature helps.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!

Experiment #21: Don't Compare

comparing yourself to others

Since you're a human being and you're alive in 2017, I'm guessing you're aware of the "comparing yourself" problem. You know, the situation where a person wastes time worrying that their neighbor/friend/coworker has a better life / things more figured out / a better job than they do?

It's a cancerous thought problem, and this experiment is meant to tackle it head-on.

You're hearing this from the frontlines: it's possible to dent the "comparing" problem.

Change the habit.

I've lessened the amount that I compare myself to others in the past three years by building on my mental habit. At first it took brute force. Over time it has gotten easier and more natural. Here's how it works: If I feel my mind start to bend toward comparison, I literally say the following two words to myself,

DON'T COMPARE.

 I then think about how I couldn’t live like others even if I wanted to.

Keep it simple, build the muscle.

It can be very hard to put theoreticals into action. That's why this experiment really is just about saying these words aloud to yourself:

“Don’t compare.” “Don’t compare.”

I hope this experiment works for you! Sending you good, non-comparison thoughts.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!

Experiment #20: Say 100 Things You Are Grateful For

This comes from the ancient Jewish practice of Mussar, the study of character-building. I first learned about Mussar from Tiffany Schlain (Webby Award founder) when I saw a film she created as part of a 2014 project she entitled Character Day.

The Making of a Mensch from The Moxie Institute. The 100 Blessings concept starts at 4:53.

The idea is very simple. From the film's transcript:

For example, say you want to increase your sense of gratitude, which there's so much research today saying that if you feel more grateful you're gonna be healthier you're gonna have more mental strength and you're gonna sleep better.
There's a practice on gratitude based on the Jewish tradition of a hundred blessings a day. My good friend Armas first taught me about it. Every day you say say a hundred blessings. Everything from waking up first thing in the morning to the big moments to the little moments. Even when you go to the bathroom (that's the Jewish way).
100 blessings every day. Do I say them? I try.
At the end of the day as you're going to sleep instead of looking at your screen close your eyes and think about all those moments all those things are grateful for.
I love the image they chose to represent the imagining of the Day's gratitudes at sleep.

I love the image they chose to represent the imagining of the Day's gratitudes at sleep.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!

Experiment #19: Mix A Nature Soundtrack

Shack rain, calm fire, and beach rushing water, though unlikely, could be your actual soundtrack.

Shack rain, calm fire, and beach rushing water, though unlikely, could be your actual soundtrack.

I like Moodil because you can wait for the bad weather in your head to pass by creating your own mood-perfect nature soundtrack.

I tend to like the meadow nighttime sounds (as shown by the moon and stars) along with a calm fire and thunderstorm. But who cares what I like? Experiment your way into a relaxed background while cooking, working, or falling asleep.

I use the desktop version but Moodil is an app, so it's meant to be used on phones.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart (no login required) to let others know they should give it a try!