The Experimenter Approach to Life

The Self-Regulation test measures your ability to keep your life on track so that your long-term pleasure and well-being is maximized. The most important skill it measures is the ability to be aware of your own basic emotions and to continually adjust your own behavior to eliminate hopeless situations and maximize your long-term pleasure and well-being. The worst thing you can do is to deny your own feelings or stay locked-in to patterns that are causing you to feel hopeless without making serious effort to change them.

People often justify their lack of effort by telling themselves that their problems are caused by other people or forces outside of their control. One of the keys to good self-regulation is realizing that the way other people act towards you is largely a reaction to your own behavior. By changing your own behaviour, you can often alter situations that seem to be entirely someone else's fault.

Self-regulation means that you regulate your own behavior in response to the good and bad events in your life. Just as a thermostat regulates temperature by turning the heat off when it's too hot, we must regulate our behavior based on the results it brings. When a thermostat gets stuck, the heating runs out of control making things get hotter and hotter.. When self-regulation breaks down, a similar thing happens to your life: Your problems just get worse and worse. The key to self-regulation is thus paying attention and continually trying to improve things.

Scientists and engineers accomplish amazing feats like sending a man to the moon by a simple process called experimentation. They break up seemingly impossible problems into small, manageable steps and then do experiments to find the solution to each step of the problem. This same approach can be applied to the problems in your life. It is called the experimenter's approach and, once you learn to use it, it has a power that is amazing. Many of the questions on the self-regulation test are actually testing how well you understand this principle.

Though the principles of the experimenter approach are simple and easily learned, learning to instinctively apply them to your life takes a lot of practice. Only by sustained effort spread over a year or so, can you really change your habits enough to make a difference in your health and happiness. By systematically applying the experimenter approach to the real problems in your life, you can form healthy habits which will help you for the rest of your life.

The first step is to take some time to think about the areas in your life that need work. Once you have identified these problem areas, you can use the experimenter approach to attack them, one small, manageable step at a time. Each problem is attacked by repeating the three steps below until the problem is solved:

1. THINK about ways to change your behavior
to eliminate pain, create pleasure & well-being.

2. IMAGINE and rehearse the new behavior and
its possible consequences in your mind.

3. TRY the new behavior in real life as an
experiment. Evaluate the results & LEARN.   

  ^-----(Back to step 1 till successful)

Some of your experiments will fail and some will succeed, but each one will teach you something that will move you closer to your final goal of long-term maximum pleasure and well-being.

Many of life’s problems which seem to be caused by other people and beyond your control can actually be solved by changes in your own behavior. You can discover these magical behavior changes by using this trial-and-error, experimental process. One important principle to keep in mind is that achieving long-term pleasure and well-being often requires actions which are less pleasant in the short-term. We often remain locked-in to destructive behaviors because we fear the short-term pain and risk of changing the status-quo.

Generally there are three approaches to change to consider in the THINK stage:

1. Behavioral change that attempts to alter the situation.

2. Avoidance by letting go of people or situations you can’t change.

3. Attitude change such that the situation no longer disturbs you.


If you had a low score on either test you should PRINT THIS PAGE. Study it regularly until you really understand it and then try to apply it to your life.

(much more to come-- including interactive practice......)


Copyright 1997 Thomas R. Blakeslee. All rights reserved. Revised: November 23, 2003.