I attended the Quantify Self Conference Europe 2015 in Amsterdam. I love this conference concept; most attendees are not only audience but also on stage to talk about their passion for this topic to share knowledge and curiosity to the utmost.
What is so great about the QS conference is that this is not just a get-together of people with a weird obsession (Qs=numbering me ; ) or hobby only, this conference is very much about a passion for getting to know and understand who we all are, by doing experiments with the self, the most available guinea pig we have is ourselves to experiment on, and learn life with.
So we do. Some participants are academic, but here they use their academic skills as a tool to satisfy their curiosity. There are entrepreneurs and professionals at the conference present, but none is really trying to sell their research, ego, talent, product or service. Everyone is really just sharing their experience, learning, pitfalls, failures for the sake of sharing the curiosity and finding ways to improve our experiments for a bigger goal, even if the scale of the “self” seems so small, there is a strong feeling of the bigger picture and meaning behind our goals.
During the conference, I heard many discussions and people in amazement on the amount time which was spent in the experiments and an equal amount amazement was expressed on the passion for people to be so disciplined and able to prioritise their time to engage with their experiment. On one hand we are lazy and wish to find the easiest and most efficient way to live and learn from life, on the other hand we are looking for the holy grail of motivation, passion, purpose and meaning to commit to a certain task. These topics seem to be opposite or a dualism: lazy to passioned, time saving to time consuming, easy to hard, superficial to meaningful and ofcourse the dualism: self to us. I love to experience and question this tension of the opposites, and they were clearly present and even fighting with each other at this conference.
Two years ago I attended the QS13 conference with my experiment “this is what I ate“. This year I was on stage with one of my recent personal experiments: “to face a day or a face a day“.
|For six months I drew a face a day (in the little book I received as a gift from my sister Yvonne), before falling asleep I reflected on that day, the weather, what I ate, and I summarised my mood for that day in one smiley. Because it was just one smile as average representation of that day, I realised I more often choose to look with a positive perspective on the day and measurement, since making a smile reinforced my experience of being happy.During my presentation of this project at the QS conference, the audience asked me: “but haven’t you been brainwashing yourself then?” and I admitted: “yes, indeed I voluntary chose to brainwash myself positively, why not?”|
|Every day I drew a face, and became more and more motivated to follow up on this joyful discipline and ritual, I started to register more details of that day, like the amount of alcohol consumption, since I was aware I did not drink few, but never really calculated the amount, now I started counting, I did manage to decrease the amount, however I prefer not to reveil all these number accurate here 😉|
|I also became curious about my health measurement, so I started to document when I ate candy (cake or chocolate) but only used one symbol if I did or not, not more, to Keep It Super Simple (kiss). And I was curious if I was able to increase the amount of time of cooking my own dinner at home by using this journal, and I did… the intension and objective became more real, thanks to the smiles every day,so I managed to positively reinforce several behaviours, and habits. I started to measure when I did anything of sport that day… but I became a bit exhausted with the amount of symbols I was drawing, so I invented a new simplified system, the 1, 2 and 3 method….|
|The 1, 2 and 3 is very simple, I am collecting numbers, and every day I reward myself with minimum 1 point, for a ‘bad’ + ‘unhealthy’ day, an average day is a 2, and a good day (no sweets, no alcohol, bit of sport) is a 3 pointer. I tried to raise the average of my days, which appeared not at all easy, but to be just below green was good enough, I did loose weight. Below some different attempts to visualise my six months and my progress….|
|Now I started to enjoy the playing around with my faces and smileys, ad decided to find some more metrix… since I noticed that while drawing the face, I enjoyed the bigger smiles more then the lesser smiles, so I wanted to investigate the size of my smiles (which seemed in real life also increased in these six months, I felt more happy, and received the same feedback from my friends and family), and so true it was… the drawn smiles became bigger over time on average.|
|For those who noticed the two weeks in april, missing faces…. this was NOT a real holiday… but a break from this experiment, I noticed that for these Quantify Self experiments, we need to NOT do it at times, to revive the correct motivation, and prevent it becoming a task or obsession, letting go of a habit at times is good for the engagement… is my personal experience, to make sure itis a voluntary effort….|
|I decided to give my mother a face a day book, but she got fed up in three weeks already, she felt out of creativity and even the confrontation of not being able to come up with a new drawing made her resisting the task… she did like the colors very much though, so a few weeks later, I found out she used the book as notebook and grocery list instead.All in all, drawing a face a day to face my day made me more and more happy, so please all, do try this at home! ; )|
See my prezi here: