Jens Oliver Meiert

The 1,000 Lives Thought Experiment

Post from October 27, 2015 (↻ June 6, 2021), filed under .

Open up a text editor or grab a piece of paper, and write down what you’d do if you had another life. Or what you’d wish for in another life. Assume that anything goes. Then, write down what you’d do if you had one more life. And another. And maybe one more.

For example, “in my next life, I like to become a politician.” Okay, perhaps “I’d like to be an incredibly successful athlete.” Maybe, “I’d like to sail the Pacific.” Or something more basic, “I want to be a millionaire.” Or “I wish to have a really big family.” Whatever comes to your mind, and no matter whether that’s still something you might be able to attain in this life.

Do this 1,000 times. Do it more. Likely you’ll do it less. (Writing something a thousand times takes a surprisingly long time.)

The point of this exercise, this thought experiment, is that at some point you might wonder how it was to opt for not-so-positive, for negative experiences. Maybe you already find yourself jotting some down.

The idea is that if we assume that we live several lives, that we are here to learn (whatever that is), and, for good measure, that this reality is some form of perfect illusion exactly in order to allow us to learn, then our understanding of bad experiences and the doubt that people could possibly choose them are probably—faulty.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on April 29, 2020.

I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.

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Cover: 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer.

Perhaps my most interesting book: 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer (2013). During my time in the States I started trying everything. Everything. Then I noticed that wasn’t only fun, it was also useful. Available at Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.

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