The Better Being Experiment

On setting goals and the measurability of being "better."

I woke up this morning to a message from a friend, in which he'd shared his New Year's resolutions and asked about mine. I don't typically make New Year's resolutions. But after being repeatedly exposed last year to convincing evidence suggesting the benefits of writing down your goals, it seemed like the right thing to do. So after an early-morning cold shower, followed by some early-morning hot coffee, this is what I came up with.

  • Do some form/combination of meditation, yoga and breathwork daily, and work to make advancements in each of these practices (e.g., do a 10-day meditation retreat).

  • Start doing some kind of cold therapy, which will likely involve making some expensive purchases, or some inexpensive ones plus loads of ice.

  • Introduce something totally new and different into my fitness regimen (e.g., Muay Thai).

  • Be more mindful and empathetic, and less reactive and outwardly moody, in my day-to-day.

  • Take greater control over what I eat by preparing my own food as often as possible and eliminating things like sugars, processed foods, vegetable oils, faux health foods, etc.

  • Keep a food diary.

  • Go deeper into exploring methods for monitoring different aspects of my health, and tracking my improvements and progress (or lack thereof).

  • Grow my online teaching business: first, by enrolling more students, and second, by expanding the courses to include things beyond just ESL (e.g., creative writing, literature, essay-writing, etc.).

  • Start a second online business doing something that I find value and meaning in and am inherently drawn to (e.g., clean air, clean food, clean mind, etc.).

  • Make an effort to live more scientifically, which to me means living each day as though it's an experiment in being a better and more proficient human being; observing and recording the data, and determining from it what worked and what didn't; and ultimately making adjustments based on that data and evidence, rather than my inherently dumb and wounded feeeeeeelings.

  • Write about the above here.

  • Spend at least 30 minutes each day teaching myself Thai with the goal of being significantly more conversational in it by the end of the year.

  • Be more compassionate and less of an asshole to the people I love.

  • Be more compassionate and less of an asshole to the people I don't love, but be careful not to overdo it.

  • Be helpful to others without burning myself out doing it.

  • Sit in chairs less.

  • Be more specific and realistic in my goals.

What about you? What are your New Year’s goals/resolutions? I’d love to hear them.

Lastly, on the Better Being Experiment front: while being a “better” person is clearly and inevitably subjective, I think there are certain universal qualities that make people better, and I think there are ways to measure those qualities and their effectiveness in making a person “better” (or “worse,” or neither). I’m working to get my head around all of that right now. But I’d love to consider some thoughts not born in my own head. So, if you’re so inclined, please do share your thoughts on what qualities you think make human beings better.

Brian Leli, January 2021