A.J. Jacobs | Life As An Experiment (Episode 332)

A.J. Jacobs is a New York Times best-selling author who introduces us to his unique brand of self-experimentation and the lessons we can learn vicariously through him.

“I wouldn’t say fail faster, I’d say fail more. For every ten failures you’re going to get one success.” -A.J. Jacobs

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Digital reminders: how to use them to become happier. (10:00)
  • How to use the Song of Solomon to get a date. (14:40)
  • Radical honesty: can it be effective in dating and relationships? (19:30)
  • Cafeteria Religion defined. (24:45)
  • The Odysseus Strategy: what it is and how to use it to make yourself happier. (27:35)
  • Posture affects your testosterone levels: true or false? (44:40)
  • And so much more…

If you lived your life as an experiment and you became a human guinea pig, what would that be like? What would you try out and what do you think you could learn? Our guest for episode 332 has done this several times and discovered so much through each experiment. A.J. Jacobs is a four-time New York Times best-selling author who has used his life as an experiment on several occasions, and then written about it to share with all of us.

For example, he once spent a year living life according to the rules of the Bible! He has also tried to become the healthiest person alive, the smartest person alive, and undertaken many other adventures. A.J. is here to talk about these experiments and so much more on the 332nd episode of The Art of Charm.

(Direct Download)

Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!

More About This Show:

A.J. Jacobs has experienced many things in his life, most of which we never will. He once stoned an adulterer in Central Park; he’s read the encyclopedia from A to Z, and he followed George Washington’s 101 rules for living with civility. Instead of following in his footsteps, we can live vicariously through him by reading his books and listening to today’s episode.

Aside from stoning an adulterer (it was not as violent as it sounds), A.J. gained a lot from his year of living biblically. One of the most profound lessons he learned was the lesson of gratitude. One of the Bible’s rules is to give thanks, and he found himself giving thanks hundreds of times a day. He’d be thankful the elevator took him to the proper floor and that it didn’t fall to the basement. Finding things to give thanks for made him a happier person, overall. We also talk about how to use the Song of Solomon from the Bible to get dates!

After his year of living according to the Bible, he joined the ranks of most of us in treating religion like a cafeteria. He took the rules that made him happiest and followed those. A.J. says we all do this to some degree; we pick and choose which rules to live by and which don’t serve us — even the most conservative among us do this.

On that same note of picking and choosing, A.J. talks about our information diet and how to more carefully watch what we are consuming every day. His general rule of thumb is if something doesn’t make him happier, he limits or removes it from his information diet.

A.J. gives us a personal example: he has a tendency to read about rare diseases or disorders on the Internet and he’s found doing so leads him down a dark hole, so he has stopped doing this. We can follow suit and stop reading negative things on the Internet, listening to negative news, or reading Internet comments on our sites if people are trashing us.

Though we discuss plenty more, including what George Washington and George Clooney have to teach us about success, one final topic we’ll mention here is that of embracing failure. He has studied some of the greatest achievers in history and he’s noted this about their success: they had to fail a lot in order to have the successes they did. He gives us a few specific examples including Picasso and E.E. Cummings.

A.J. gives us other insights on his discoveries through treating his life like an experiment; tune in to find out the rest! It was a pleasure to have A.J. on the show; I want to thank him for joining us and to thank you for being here, too. Enjoy the episode and we’ll see you next time.

THANKS, A.J. JACOBS!

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1049 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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