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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

Become Your Own n=1

In studies, “n” refers to the number of subjects that are being studied. The number 1 indicates that there is one person in the study. Becoming your own n=1 means you are running a study on yourself. Whether you like it or not, you are your own n=1.

Life is not static. We are constantly going through motions, giving and taking energy, feeling ecstatic and feeling depressed. If we never felt sad we wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy feeling happy. We need these changes in emotion to feel alive.

At the end of the day, you are your own n=1. You need to be able to recognize what makes you happy and what makes you sad. You also need to be able to recognize the things that make you feel happy today might be different than what makes you happy tomorrow, next week or next year. You need to experiment with your food choices. Just because that diet worked for your best friend does not mean it will work the same for you. In every single scenario, the variables are different from person to person. You can’t change things that have already happened. You can only control your current self, your current feelings or your response in any given situation.

You need to be patient. Studies take time! Some will finish sooner than others. Some will have outcomes you don’t want. That’s exactly why we run the experiments in the first place. We want to find out what works and what doesn’t. We want to be able to make changes when it’s necessary. Sometimes we have to stop the experiment earlier than anticipated because the results are just too drastic or too soon. Sometimes we’ll get half way through an experiment and realize we need to intervene or change course. On occasion, we will be able to finish an experiment early because it worked better than anticipated. No matter the outcome you will always have a chance to change variables and run new trials.

At the end of the day, you are, and always will be, your own n=1. You are your own experiment. Some things will work out way better than expected. Some things are going cause you to feel like you have lost a lot of ground. That’s exactly how it should be. Keep experimenting. Keep a close, close eye on both the process and the results because they are two very different, yet important things. If life was perfect, it would be really, really boring.

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