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The Journey Within


Pierce
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Day 48

Excellence... it's still that fourth virtue of Excellence I struggle with. I want to embody it every day, but it is so easy to fall into old habits. Let's see about tomorrow.

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Excellence... it's still that fourth virtue of Excellence I struggle with. I want to embody it every day, but it is so easy to fall into old habits. Let's see about tomorrow.

It's a daily practice. You're doing better than you think!

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Thanks Cam. It's getting pretty tough in the arena here, but I know you know how it is.

 

Yesterday was borderline for whether I counted it, because I didn't get too much school work done (though I did learn an advanced Rumba routine with some friends) because I kept on getting distracted on youtube. I've known this, but rarely follow it: studying in an uncomfortable place will make me less likely to get distracted. I really need to enforce that advice. As for today, I can best describe it with a conversation I had with my dad tonight. He's looking for his life purpose, and we talk about that a lot. I admitted to him that today I felt like a Pablo Neruda quote: “Someday, somewhere - anywhere, unfailingly, you'll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.” I caught a glimpse of myself today and felt ashamed. I love who I am and honestly believe that I will one day accomplish things that will genuinely make the world a better place; I'm not there yet though, and I can't seem to stay on the path to becoming the person will accomplish those things. Sure, I improve in many areas every day, but if I can't make myself do the work I need to I'll stall out in some of the most critical areas, namely (really almost solely) school. I'm not saying this because I'm down. I'm quite content, but that's the problem. I need to be in whatever state it is that gets me to change, whether that is unease or joy, pain or pleasure.

My dad talked about how he feels like he's floating in life, and while I don't feel like I'm floating in life, I feel similar in that I'm often floating in my school work instead of actively swimming upstream in it. To use a biology example: we're just like our cell membranes in that we prefer to use passive transport over active transport. What this means is that we'd prefer to float downstream over actively swimming up it. The thing is, downstream leads towards our mediocre old habits, while upstream is where the growth is to be had. I have a picture in my room that exemplifies my point (it's in the attachments below). The warrior in this picture (Conan, if you're familiar with Robert E. Howard's stories) represents the spirit of one who chooses to master himself/herself and swims upstream towards the goal of their desire. I printed this out and put it near where I sleep to remind me to become more like that man. Lets have another go at it tomorrow.

Conan_the_Barbarian.jpg

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49 and 50

I was just in bed and almost forgot to do write this again. I won't write long, but suffice it to say, things are starting to look up. I'm validated as a volunteer at the hospital, have a potential doctor to shadow, morale is high, and I've been learning a lot more in personal growth. Lastly, even though I'm at the critical juncture before my next batch of tests, being at this point with the knowledge I have means that I still have time to study and do well on them. This is much better than looking back from the point of no return. I hope to share some of the things I've learned, both from school and from self-help, here tomorrow.

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Thanks Piotr!

Day 51

I suppose one of the main discoveries I've been pondering recently is the role of consciousness in the quality of our life. We usually are at a low level of consciousness where we are running on our daily habits, only occasionally regaining enough lucidity to think about the broader picture of life. I've been hearing from a lot of books I read/videos I watch that the "goal" of life is live at progressively higher levels of consciousness, and I'm slowly finding myself agreeing with that idea. It'll be interesting to see where that path leads.

Anyway, as for the more mundane things: I'm still having a lot of trouble sticking with my plans to study. I didn't waste a large chunk of time today, I just kept on getting distracted by small things. The book I'm reading right now, Take the Stairs, talks about how some of the most successful people in the world are able to achieve at the level they do and still have a balanced life because they have periods of hyper focus where they get their work done. I've known this trick for a while, but haven't been able to apply it. I think I'll be forced to apply it tomorrow, because there's a lot I need to get done. Lastly, I found out that the optional field trip to a marine biology lab my Invertebrate Zoology class is going to is this weekend, so I'm really excited about that, but it may also mean more sporadic posts for the next few days.

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Day 52-55

I feel so behind with these posts, but in reality it's been a good thing. Thursday night I was just plain tired, but from Friday to this evening I've been at (or in the the car driving to/from) a sea lab, as I detailed in my last post. No wifi means not being able to post on here, but it also means being away from useless distractions. It was really cool to see the invertebrates that we've been studying in class, and actually see their adaptations at work in their home environment. I also got to meet many like-minded people, and gleaned quite a few pearls of wisdom from my professor and others. 

The man downside of this weekend is that I'm worn out and I have a lot of catch up work to do. I got a little studying done while there, but the next barrage of tests are here. It doesn't feel right to say that tomorrow will be the day where I put my nose to the grindstone, but I think that may be my best choice. I'm not going to post tomorrow that I didn't follow through, because I've given my word now, and if I don't get it done my word is worth little.

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Day 56

Through action I reach the goals I set for myself. Two tests tomorrow and one more on Wednesday, and I feel much more prepared than I was yesterday, but I still have a long way to go. As for habits, I am realizing more and more that the key to building good ones is looking at the big picture. I have a picture of what I want my life to be like 5,10, and 20 years from now, but whether that's where I end up or not, I know the key habits that I need to develop to take me there or whatever better path I find. The key now is be consistent and let my passion guide me back towards the hard path every time the winds of pain and pleasure try to blow me elsewhere.

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You are doing great!

You are 100% right about that we need to look at the big picture instead of the current moment.

Make your decisions based on what you want to become in the future and you'll definitely get there.

Keep it up! <3

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Day 57 and 58

Been a little while since I've been on here. The tests on Tuesday went ok, and I definitely studied hard for them the past couple of days before, but I still haven't set up the system of studying a week in advance that I've been wanting to do for the longest time. I predict pretty mediocre grades on both, but I'll still be in a decent position in both classes. My cell bio test on Wednesday is a completely different situation. The questions on there were much more specific than I predicted, and I know this is likely an excuse, but I don't remember my teacher putting a lot of weight on those points in class (for example, I knew how RNA Transcription and Translation worked, but I had no idea about many of the support proteins that were involved). I don't know if I'll be able to pass that class my first time around, and it may be the first class I get less than a C in, which is sad because I very much enjoy both it and the professor. School is strange in that way, and I honestly don't understand it. I've been trying to get better at science and math since middle school, trying to build the will to not procrastinate since high school, and have been trying to learn how to buckle down and study since freshman year of college. I know I used the word "try" and not "do", which is my problem, but replacing the two is a lot easier said than done. I was so beaten down by the test that I went out and got a cheese quesadilla with fries and a soda (I usually eat very healthy and drink almost solely water), pulled out my laptop, and watched a gameplay movie of Metal Gear Solid 3 for the rest of the day. It's for this reason that I'm not counting yesterday, though for feeling that beaten down I did still get a few things done like going to the gym and preparing my schedule for today.

Today I procrastinated a lot again and ended up working on a lab report during some of my other lectures. It was especially demoralizing when one of my lab partners, a guy I respect immensely, said that he was going to do his own copy of the large-scale group lab report that's due next week, even though it's my job to be the lead writer, because he doesn't completely trust me to get it done. His fears are unfounded, because I can't remember a time where I've let someone down that much, but I let myself down and everyone I want to help in the future all the time when I choose to waste time instead of getting my work done. I would say I want to change my academic performance around with every fiber of my being, but that would be untrue; my motivation is probably more like at a 7 or 8, depending on the day. I CAN honestly say that my will is a 10 for wanting to make my motivation a 10. Yes, I'm aware that motivation is a shallow system, so I'm likely using the wrong word. Whatever word defines the will to take positive action, I want that more than anything else right (intellectually at least, but only my actions will show if I mean this practically).

I was thinking earlier today that if there were one thing I would want to be known for, it would be the focus and discipline I apply towards my goals. This, ironically, is far from being a trait I possess. I do, however, have the tenacity to get back up again, over and over, and that is enough. It's what brought me to this site, and it's why I will eventually be able to cleave the cancerous tendrils of video games and laziness completely out of my life. "Men choose, slaves obey" and I choose to become a man who is able to work hard to achieve the worthy pursuits that lie before him. Only death of sudden calamity can prevent me from doing so.

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Some times tests can go wrong if you just know the topic but not exactly how the questions in the test are framed. To get a feeling for this part of exams it is very helpful to read through old exams. So if it is possible for you to get old exams from teh Semesters before you I would definitely do so. This can help immensly with your performance.

Your right with that part of motivation. I persoanally often got the feeling that I just want the result to be good not the progress. I. e. a good exam instead of understanding everythign so deeply that I could be good at an exam. The question is: do you want to have good grades? Or do you want to be good in your topic?

I think sometimes it is good enough to just want a good grade or to be scared of a bad one, but for real motivation you need the progress to be rewarding. To learn with flashcards can help because everyttime you got something right you get a little endorphine boost. Or study with other people and ask each other questions about the topic (after you studied for your own a bit). These are jsut my 2 cents. I am sure you made your own research on study techniques ;).

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is all part of your growth process. The more awareness you can bring to what you are doing well and what you can improve on, the more opportunity you have to implement these changes. It's important to be aware of where you can improve and hold yourself accountable to embodying it, while also being patient because growth takes time.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's been 103 days since I have played video games. Personally, this is not a reason to celebrate, because this barely meets the minimum standard of what I set out to do. I set out to stop using electronics as my crutch from doing hard work. The vast majority of the days since I began this journey I have watched videos on gaming or other distractions instead of doing my school work. My academic performance has still suffered greatly on account of this. To use an analogy, quitting smoking (video games) has proven easy, but it has been hard for me to go even minutes sometimes without the nicotine patch (YouTube). It's been almost a month since my last post, because I wanted to start my detox over when I at least had some momentum going against wasting time on the internet. I see now that my best hope is to jump in head first.

Over the past few years I've been scouring the internet and books for advice on productivity and self-discipline. I've found a lot of great wisdom on these subjects, but I still lack self-discipline in so many areas of my life. The best advice I've found so far is from a guy named Byron Davis who says that discipline comes from, "Caring more normal and more than necessary about the result." He believes that the root of lapsed discipline is when we let ourselves off the hook and no longer care on that level. Don't get me wrong, it was hard to not play video games, especially since this last week I was on break, but I was able to care more than normal and more than necessary about keeping my streak going. I need the same kind of attitude towards my habits on the internet. 

I'll lay out my plans for this detox now. Starting tomorrow I want to go on a 90 day no video (unless it's school related) detox. To replace videos I will read, meditate, or play guitar. Here are my priorities:

1. Detox- no videos of any kind, unless academically related, during the week. On Sundays I can watch self-help videos and look up guitar tutorials. 

2. School- classes and volunteer related activities.

3.  Health- getting enough sleep, meditating daily, lifting weights, and avoiding sugary food (some of these are more important than school in my book, like sleep, but most of the habits that need to be developed here are less important).

4. Personal learning- self-chosen books, self-help videos, and learning other skills like guitar.

5. Social life- I want to keep in touch with friends, but compared to my first three priorities, this is far less important in this stage in my life.

6. Everything else.

I've quit video games for over 90 days twice before, but this is something I've never done. It seems quite daunting, but just by writing it all out I already feel a lot more hopeful. I care more than normal and more than necessary about breaking free from my addiction to electronics.

 

Edited by Pierce
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It helped me a lot not to use youtube for some time. I would argue to cut it donw completely. I never run abotu a study subject which I couldn't solve in other ways. Youtube videos can be helpful but they are far from a  necessity to be successful.

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@WorkInProgress Thanks for the advice. I agree for the most part, but I believe that if I have very specific protocols I should still be able to keep to my commitment. I do agree that there's a large room for error, but I want to make sustainable goals, and I believe that I have set up the path to do just that. I'll definitely keep your views in mind in case I need a more rigid framework.

@Cam Adair Thanks! Also, I recently read Man's Search for Meaning as per your recommendation in your video on life purpose. I received a lot of perspective from his life experiences, and especially liked his advice later in the book to look on life as if you are reliving it. He suggested that in this mode of thinking one should try to predict and avoid the mistakes this time around that you likely made in your previous life. It takes the regret away from life and brings back the adventure.

Day 1

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss." -Hal Holbrook (from Wall Street)

I woke up early for the first time all week and really contemplated my life. There's been quite a bit of emotional turmoil recently, but for one of the first times recently I was able to find lasting inner peace during that time. I have life goals, personal attributes, and dreams for the world that I wish to bring about, and they all seem equally far from my grasp; I know I can reach them if I'm willing to stretch just a little bit farther every day.

The main event of the day was going out hiking with some of my friends. It was good to see all of them again, and it was good to be around people where I could be myself without fear of rejection. That's a major theme for this specific stage of my life: living authentically. According to the psychoanalytic stages (which I do take with a giant grain of salt) I am in the intimacy vs. isolation stage of my life, meaning that this is the junction as I enter into young adulthood where I find my place among my peers. Having very different goals and interests than most people around me, it's been easy to fall into isolation. This is why I self-medicated with video games in the past. It let me put my problems on hold. The same goes for youtube or any other distraction. This is why it is so vital that I remain authentic and don't fear rejection in my friendships. Today was a great step in that direction. 

As for my detox: it's been a good start. I've been reading, thinking, and playing guitar instead of wasting time on the internet. Over the past few years I've learned that those activities are what I would like to do most when I have free time, but the problem arises when I am presented with work that I do not want to do. Tomorrow I'll need to do some studying, and that's where the real test arises.

 

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@Tatu92 I appreciate your kind words. The fancy words and quotations are my best attempt at trying to describe the strange nature of reality, and even with them I feel like I'm a blind man trying to describe an elephant by touch.

Day 2

It feels so weird starting over again. The pain of still being here when I wanted to kick this habit five years ago comes more from embarrassment and regret than from the actual pain of struggle against the habit itself. The pain is unnecessary though; if I can redirect my thoughts towards inner strength and the future, I have already won. If the enemy is within and the enemy is, in essence, my very own thoughts, I can catch them and convert them to become my ally. The key is in recognizing the down-hill slide in the first place. The question I have now is, can I learn to use this technique for school? If I can redirect my thoughts towards the importance of studying, I'm set.

I had my second experience shadowing a doctor today, and my aspirations for that career have only increased. I don't have a background that prepared me well for this path, I don't have the resume experiences, and I don't have the grades, but I know that I'm going to make it. I'm going to make it because I don't see failure as an option. I will prepare myself, get the experiences, and build the right habits to change my grades. 

I've mentally established Cortes' sinking of the ships. If I cannot muster the courage, discipline, and aptitude to get into medical school, then I can't move on in life; my only choice is to succeed. This is my rite of passage, and I have chosen it because it makes me stronger just for trying. I don't think I would have made quitting my addiction to electronics such a high priority if it weren't for the fact that I have chosen this path. As long as I am growing stronger, I am at peace with my journey.

I'm excited to see what new obstacles and learning opportunities tomorrow brings.

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@WorkInProgress Thanks! And I've heard that before about Cortez. I've found that myths frequently prove just as effective as real stories. I don't know what that says about human nature, but there's probably something there.

Day 3

Outlook is definitely the key. I was able to better direct my moods today. One thing that is very frustrating, is that I find it difficult to put effort forth in subjects I don't see value in. I know that this is frequently an erroneous view, because we usually find that these subjects are incredibly valuable later in life. For example, I wish I had put forth more effort into my math and science courses in high school, because I can see now that my effort would have paid off two-fold (then and now). It's hard for me to see that in this case, but maybe I simply lack perspective. In Organic Chemistry II we've been learning all kinds of obscure mechanisms for organic molecular reactions. The first semester of this class was very useful, giving me a great overview of the subject, but now the level of detail we're going into I can only see as useful if I wanted to go into research as a chemist. This has led me to not put forth much of any effort in the class all semester, which means I'll likely have to retake it. I like a challenge (even though I dislike the poor work ethic on my part), so if I retake it I'll need to learn how to turn it into a game if I can't find the value in it. It's good to be held accountable by this task, rather than being able to just coast by.

I also find it funny that the mind tries to find a new way to distract to distract itself. Instead of videos I now spend a lot of time doing research on whatever subject crosses my mind. I feel like each detox is peeling a layer off of the onion that is the human ego. I know that I want to peel the next few layers off so that I am no longer mindlessly following its whims, and am able to observe what is really going on. The question that I don't have an answer to is whether there is ever a time where the layers run out, but that's a subject for another day. For now I will be content with calming the mind enough to to get work done. I seek out being at flow, in a time where my mind is addicted to stimulation. My hope is that meditation will help.

It's good to be alive and growing stronger.

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When it comes to subjects we don't enjoy, try shifting your perspective to the intangibles you'll develop through the subject. Two years ago I had to write a super detailed biz plan for Game Quitters in order to get my U.S. Visa approved. I hate biz plans. They're basically a waste of time. Thing took me 3 months of consistent effort to complete. IT was really annoying. But instead of focusing on the biz plan, I tried to focus on the discipline it was developing. Or the fact that I was learning to complete a project, instead of starting one and falling off like usual. So sometimes that type of shift in your perspective can help a lot.

Also, the ability to shift your perspective is a muscle in itself imo. Keep working on it. Gets easier. :)

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@Cam Adair You're definitely on to something, thanks. I think I can see the purpose in that: developing discipline and seeing the project through; I hope to try that out soon.

Day 4

One thought I had today came from a productivity guru named Sid Savara. He had a post on the horizons of productivity. The first horizon is being stuck in yesterday, meaning that you are always playing catch up. The second horizon is getting the work done for the day, but only for that day. Subsequent horizons involve preparing for the future. I find myself frequently stuck in the first horizon, which he highly warns against, because of my tendency to get distracted and put important work off. At this point just getting to the second horizon would be fantastic. In fact, I have a lot of habits in place that will cover the preparation needed for the distant future, so long as I can do the days work. I've had a love-hate relationship with the Pomodoro technique over the past year, but I do think it works if there is a sense of urgency. By pairing this tactic with Parkinson's Law (the time it takes to complete a task will expand to the time you allot for it), giving realistic, stringent, and self-imposed deadlines I hope to see results.

Anyway, I better get some sleep now, as my willpower is getting lower the more tired I get. "Vitanda est improba siren desidia" - One must avoid that wicked temptress, laziness - Horace.

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Day 5

Finding a balance between scheduled time and unscheduled time can be difficult. Scheduled time is when work gets done, but unscheduled time is when I can recharge and have my most creative ideas. The simple answer is to have large chunks of scheduled time with small breaks of unscheduled time in between. This would be great, but in these large chunks I easily get distracted and end up in a worse position than if the time were unscheduled. I need to work on breaking tasks into smaller chunks, which has been a problem of mine for the past few years. Maybe I can try putting a goal down for each Pomodoro.

As for staying off YouTube, easier said than done. I haven't watched any videos, but I've been tempted to quite a few times. It's mainly during those long stretches as I said above. I start off strong, but lose steam surprisingly fast, usually as soon as 15 minutes in. I feel as if I'm training for a 5k, but keep on getting tired after running a few feet in my training. If its this difficult to even train, I can only imagine how prepared I'll be for the race. I'm not discouraged, as getting back up after falling down seems to be my greatest talent (I've had a lot of practice), but I know there's a better way out there; I may even know it already, it's just the implementation that's choppy. 

Maybe a better metaphor is weight lifting. I've been training my legs a lot, but then get surprised when that effort doesn't help me when I try to bench press a heavy weight. I've been working on lots of skills, but few of my skills have been focusing on concentration. Even my meditation is scattered. It seems that I haven't overcome my childhood ADD. I can't think of what more to do than to keep up my daily meditation schedule and try to practice mindfulness throughout the day. I need to calm down my monkey mind.

In the midst of all of that, I am happy. I've set out to live more productively and authentically, and have accumulated a lot of knowledge towards the former while having great gains in the latter. I've been more successful in shutting out the outside voices, allowing me to become my own person. 

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Hey Pierce!

Nice to see you back again(what an awful sentence to say in this forum...haha)! To be honest I was worried for a while after seeing you stoping your Journal so abruptly. I hope you still got everything done that had do be done during this time? :)

You are such an ambitious mind that I like to have around me that it would sadden me to see you simply quit for good. To be honest it is quite ... complicated to answer to your journal. You have so much insight on so many things, but somehow I think that this is your problem as well. Sometimes we have to do boring stuff or just stuff that men have to do in order to "prevail" our "existence" and often, or most likely always, these things are boring. But the thing about boring this is: they are great!

I have just recently watched a video about it that might help you, I will send you the link via PM.

Seems like I will need to keep up with my learn goals to now to be able to compare myself to your levels ;) Looking forward to your future entries!

 

 

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