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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


This is an old paper. By the copyright, it's approaching a decade in print. It has been widely referenced. The pretty, as-published 3MB PDF, which includes some revisions and extra graphs.

And it may be the most important thing, at least in terms of personal transformation, that you ever read.

It doesn't tell you what to change, it tells you how to change things. It speaks to the motives and the methods for self-experimentation. It outlines general principles of figuring out your own problems, while at the same time suggesting several fascinating, specific possibilities for personal development (seeing human faces head-on, even on TV, first thing in the morning, may make you happier and more eager to do things; a less tasty diet, more or less, may make you lose weight without calorie-control efforts).

I intend to read this paper by Seth Roberts and Allen Neuringer at least once a month until I've really absorbed its lessons.

Lifehacking would be a good term to describe this self-experimentation. (As opposed to the Lifehacker website, which is just a stream of shiny trivial things, a la Slashdot and Digg.)

Technically, you're only bodyhacking, but when such bodyhacking requires significant lifestyle changes in the first place and leads to more major changes in your life as a result--that's lifehacking.

Well, I think I usually conceive of hacking (any kind of hacking) as more about the implementation than the experimentation, that may just be my own bias.

Before we had all kinds of neat jargon for it, this sort of thing would have been recognized as just a rigorous, analytic form of self-improvement.

What distinguishes the Roberts/Neuringer approach, in my opinion (aside from their intriguing conclusions) was their scientific approach.
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