There are seven billion people in the world and not a single other person is exactly like you. You are unique! Like all species, humans have specific and universal needs for survival, the most obvious being food, water, and oxygen. While we could list a bunch of other basic needs that humans require, Tony Robbins identifies six that I like the most. Those six basic human needs are certainty/comfort, uncertainty/variety, significance, love and connection, growth, and contribution.
Identifying what humans need to survive is important, but merely surviving isn’t good enough. My goal is to thrive. And because you and I are different, our specific needs, and amounts of those needs will differ. We may share the basic needs, but those needs must be tweaked for us individually if we are going to maximize our potential and express optimal health.
We know that we require sleep. I’ve read a lot about sleep, and the amount of sleep we require appears to be approximately seven to nine hours. I know people that do best with less, and people that must have more. While we know the general range of sleep we require, your individual needs must be figured out by you. You may find that you can get by on five hours of sleep, but that eight hours allows you to function and feel your best. This is why self-experimentation is critical.
While I believe most humans are gluten-sensitive to some degree, and every patient I’ve seen that has cut out gluten has appeared to feel and function better, there are different degrees of sensitivity. Some people are gluten intolerant, meaning they have a dramatic and violent response to ingested gluten. Others may have milder, but still significant, effects from ingesting gluten. It may cause drowsiness in one person, dull headaches in another, and recurring skin issues in yet another. Again, this is why self-experimentation is so important.
This self-experimentation can apply to any, and every, area of your life. Would you do better sitting all day at work, or with a stand-up desk? Or would a variation between sitting and standing throughout the day be best for you? There is one way to find out. Experiment! Would you feel stronger and have more energy with two larger meals per day or six small meals per day? I’ve read books, article, and studies by so-called experts that argue both ways. Who should you believe? Neither. Try both for a while, and see for yourself how you respond.
I consistently read contradictory information about human performance and lifestyle. The information will often come from smart individuals with extensive educational backgrounds who sound like they know what they are talking about and often site scientific studies and research. How do you know who to trust and believe? There is only one way to really know… experiment on yourself.
Even when it comes to products that you read about or see advertised, how do you know if they will work for you? Try them! I’ve tried dozens of pillows, several types of mattresses, countless brands of protein powders, just about every brand of athletic shoe, and most of the wellness products you’ve seen advertised. I experiment with everything to find out what works, what doesn’t, and what helps me feel and perform at my best.
I’ve experimented with amounts and ratios of proteins, carbs, and fat I consume, the length of my workouts, the time of day I workout, how many meals I consume each day, intermittent fasting, waking up earlier, going to bed earlier, and any lifestyle dynamic that might help me feel and function better. Your needs differ from everyone else’s, but only you can figure out what those are specifically. If you think you can feel and perform better, and I’m certain you can, it’s time to start self-experimenting. It will take some time and you will spend some money, but moving from merely surviving to thriving will be worth it.