Why experiment with making life worse on purpose

Every now and then, it can be good to imagine that your worst fear came true. More than imagining, you can even put yourself in that position on purpose so you can ask yourself, “Is this what I feared? How bad is this, really?”

The Greek and Roman stoics – among them, Marcus Aurelius, the emperor portrayed in Gladiator – popularized this practice back in the day. I don’t consider myself a stoic, certainly no Marcus, but I don’t mind revamping this practice.

If you scan through my experiments, you’ll see that quite a few of them revolve around putting myself in situations that seem purposely worse than normal. The latest one, the no sight experiment, serves as an example.

The benefit of this practice, whether it’s the life experiments or just the thought experiments, is that it helps put things in perspective. When you try out your fears, they often don’t seem as bad after all, like, “Ah, I guess I can live without a phone.” Or even if they are bad, suddenly the aches and pains of normal life can feel more comfortable in comparison.

The benefit of experimenting with making life worse on purpose, trying it out, even just imagining it, is that it reminds us to stay grateful.