Experience Curating

This is the first how to article about the FAOCAS (read: focus) process of Experience Curating. If you're new to this series or the concept of Experience Curating, click here for the article introducing curating your existence.


Living intentionally is both an art and a science.

You can find it in minimalism, religion, meditation, and many other places. But to practice mindful, meaningful, rewarding Experience Curating, you must filter your entire present and past with intention.

Your filtering process can fall anywhere on the objective/subjective range. Personally, I'm very subjective when I filter my experiences.

It's just a gut feeling when, for example, I know that the meal I just ate, a piece of food in that meal, a snippet of conversation with friends during the meal, or the story told after the meal is worth curating. I constantly ask myself:

  1. Did anything about that experience resonate?
  2. Could I or someone else benefit from select moments of that experience?
  3. How could I unlock the potential of this experience in the context of how I want to share my life and be useful?

However, some people are more objective.

They use science or a formula to evaluate whether an experience should be curated. But nobody can filter or curate in an entirely objective way.

Each system and person is inherently subjective in the weighting and biases within it. That's not a bad thing, as long as you acknowledge it. Actually, your unique perspective provides the essential human element of curating.

Artificial intelligence and algorithms can aggregate experiences better than humans, but they can't judge what experiences have meaning, to whom, how, and why.

The primary goal is to curate only your best experiences, regardless of where you fall on the filter spectrum.

It can be tricky, but using these steps will help you craft solid internal filters.

1. Fight the Battle Within

Joel the Minimalist fights against Joel the Curator because Minimalist me says, “Little to nothing is gained from comparison and judgment.”

But Curator me says, “Minimalist Joel, you're killing me, man! Comparisons are essential so I can determine what is a best experience.”

Joel the Curator often wins the battle because he knows we must judge current people, places, and events against the past to rank an experience.

You can oversimplify by asking, “Is this experience better than the last ninety-nine similar experiences?” and if the answer is yes, curate it.


That becomes troublesome if you have two seriously groovy experiences back-to-back. It's not an issue of percentiles – top 98% or 99.999% – to me. Instead, it's a matter of remembering why I curate a type of experience, what the future benefit may be, and who could benefit.

After you reconcile the competing forces within you, the “why” filter becomes the biggie.

2. Your “Why” Filter

Your internal filters determine the motivation behind curating a specific kind of experience.

For example, your motive for curating a room full of Golden Retriever figurines is different than the reason for curating a personal library. The dog items fulfill a need for aesthetic beauty and to show off your eccentric side. The personal library scratches the itch for continuous learning and inspiration.

That means you'll need to constantly switch your curating lens for different experiences.

Don't worry, though. Identifying experiences worth curating gets easier as you archive more of them. Through quick slice-and-dicing in your archive, you can easily compare a recent experience against already curated ones to decide:

Is this as good as or better than other similar experiences?

It's time to refine your “why” filter if you answer yes to every other experience (or be grateful for a truly amazing life). If you answer yes once a decade, then it's time to poke more holes in your filter (or live it up more).

You'll fluctuate on the subjective/objective filter range as you shift from right-brained emotional or spiritual experiences to left-brained measurable experiences. That's OK because there's no “right way” to filter every possible kind of experience.

3. Your “What” and “Who” Filters

What you curate and who you curate for will radically alter your filters. Compare these two scenarios of curating pictures, but in different mediums and for a different audience:

  1. You just bought a digital camera and started snapping pictures of family, flowers, and the neighbor's pretty kitty like a maniac. And why not? Each picture costs nothing and everything seems worth capturing right now. The goal is to share a big Facebook album so that all of your friends can pour through them to understand your daily life.
  2. You just inherited an antique analog camera that takes forever to set up and only snaps one picture a minute. You only plan to take a dozen pictures because each one costs a small fortune to develop. Besides, the goal is to get a single picture into National Geographic.

Internal Filters

You're filtering the same “what” (pictures), but the difference in digital versus analog volume and in the target audience is vast. So you'll need different filters to get 2,000 digital pictures taken down to five pictures shared on Facebook than you will to sift a dozen analog pictures down to the perfect one for National Geographic.

Stay tuned for more “what” and “who” filter tips in later resources on Experience Curating.

Intentional Internal Filters: The Takeaway

Creating a hierarchy of which internal perspective trumps another – and when – is hard. But few things are more helpful for filtering experiences.

Being able to instantly shift your “why” filter for various experiences builds upon winning the battle within. And then mastering your “what” and “who” filters provides another essential layer in the filter process.

Live intentionally and rock the “F” out of FAOCAS.

Photo Credit: amateur_photo_bore, poppet with a camera