Quantified Self: Lessons in Self-Deception

2017 marked the beginning of my journey with the ideas of quantified self. I went all out trying to figure the ways I could quantify my life. Though I learned many things about the details of the way I spend my time and energy (much of which can be found here), the most important lesson I absorbed was that of self-deception.

Every morning and evening I would record various aspects of my day. I forced myself daily to think about my goals, habits (good and bad), and progress towards improving myself. There were times when it was so tempting to fudge a number or use some selective memory when recounting my day. Nobody would ever know. Even I would likely forget that I hadn’t reported my day accurately. This is, of course, directly in opposition to the whole concept of quantified self which seeks to obtain truth about ourselves through quantifiable measures. Garbage data going in, garbage insights coming out.

I strikes me how even in the context of a project that explicitly seeks accurate information, I was tempted to lie to myself. Unfortunately, I imagine this to be a common (if not universal) feature of the human condition. It seems that most of us probably spend our days lying to ourselves. Sometimes this can be a useful fiction to motivate us to take the next step or push forward through hard times. But I fear that more often than not it is just another example of the way we hide our face from the realities of our lives and the world around us. Its easier to repeat a comfortable lie to ourselves over and over again than to face the truth of who we are. If we can't work up the will to commit to the truth in conversations with ourselves, what makes us think that we will be able to speak truth to friends, loved ones, or the destructive powers of the world?

I am hopeful that this small exercise in daily honesty with myself may have larger implications to the way I interact with those around me. Hopefully, much like a muscle, I will continue to build the strength and resilience to live my life immersed in the expressions of truth.


"Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts as these: for instance, that where a man can live, there he can also live well."

-Marcus Aurelius