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The Journey Within


Pierce
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@tirEdOrange I don't think there's been a time where I haven't been encouraged by your posts, and am very grateful for them, as I am with @Cam Adair and @WorkInProgress'  and everyone else who has taken the time to post here. Also, I never got to formally congratulate you, but I read your journal and great job in making it all 90 days! I'm excited to see where this new stage in your life takes you.

As for my hiatus, I wanted to take some time to make sure I'm actually making progress towards completely getting the roots of gaming out of my system, and that has been taking the form of videos over the past half year. Once again, in the words of Andrew Ryan from Bioshock (I love the irony of quoting games here), "Men choose, slaves obey," and I am tired of being a slave. Also, you are entirely right that simple, mundane hard-work is one of the most important keys to success. Lacking that is probably my greatest character flaw (one of them at least), and I want to gain it at all costs. Thanks again for the kindness, and I will try to take a peak at your video sometime if you are able to send it (on a Sunday so I can keep with my goals, haha).

Day 6

I'm going to head out to meet some friends soon, so I'll keep this short for today. I'm actually starting to get the gist of this hard-work thing. It's all about putting it at the fore-front of your mind. Instead of sneaking away to distractions (phones, computers, people, etc) in my free time, I should sneak away to work. Even if I have five minutes, there some studying to be done or other work that can push me towards my goals. If I can consistently apply this, I will be a force of nature, if I do not, this knowledge means little for me. Only my future posts will tell :)  .

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Day 7

I'm exhausted, so I won't say too much, but I'm glad to have made it a week. I've started reading Frank Herbert's Dune which has been a good replacement for the internet. Also, I've been having difficulties sticking to the schedule I make for myself each morning, so I'll see if I can be more steadfast about that tomorrow.

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Day 7

I'm exhausted, so I won't say too much, but I'm glad to have made it a week. I've started reading Frank Herbert's Dune which has been a good replacement for the internet. Also, I've been having difficulties sticking to the schedule I make for myself each morning, so I'll see if I can be more steadfast about that tomorrow.

Good job dude. Some days will be better than others, but stay focused and over the long-term, you will have many more good days than tougher ones. :)

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Thanks Cam. I don't know about that personally though; I feel that I have more tough days than good ones as far as going towards my dreams, and my journals here will confirm that. What keeps me going is the hope that something will one day "click" and then I'll know how to get my work done.

Day 8

We don't sign up for life, and when we're here we aren't given many instructions. I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon others that have taught me that I don't have to follow society's rules, and that I am free to follow my own heart; the problem is that I am a slave in my body even if my mind is free. I have so many dreams and personal ambitions, and I even know many of the steps on how to get there and develop myself into the person I want to become, but I feel that I don't have the power to do so even if I do have the will. It's not that I don't try, I try every day, but I fail every day as well. The harder I try the harder my mind rebels. Letting go works better, but I still don't get much done. I wish I had the value of discipline instilled in me earlier in life, but one would think that I would be able to develop it now with how much I want it. It makes me wonder, do I just think I want it that bad, but part of me doesn't? I would like to say I would give one of my eyes to have mastery over my mind and body, just as Odin is told to have done for wisdom, but my actions show this is not true. I guess I'll need to keep that visual in perspective when I feel that I'm slipping to see if that helps. 

The best summary of how I feel is from a quotation from Dune, "Even as she spoke, Jessica laughed inwardly at the pride behind her words. What was it St. Augustine said? she asked herself. "The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance." Yes - I am meeting more resistance lately. I could use a quiet retreat by myself." 

Maybe that's the key: mentally preparing myself before partaking in a task. I do a lot of introspection, but how weak I am at meditation should hint at the fact that a different type of inward retreat is required. This one does not involve great mental exertion, but rather, letting the mind become one with the body to enter a state of flow towards a task. Flow- how I have mixed feelings about you. You are my salvation, and yet I hate you because you constantly elude me. You are the golden snitch that I will catch yet and win this game.

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"Even as she spoke, Jessica laughed inwardly at the pride behind her words. What was it St. Augustine said? she asked herself. "The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance." Yes - I am meeting more resistance lately. I could use a quiet retreat by myself."

Beatifully enlightening

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 ^ Indeed, and that's not even the most famous quote from the book. Just for you @tirEdOrange :) :

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” -Dune

Day 9

It's best to follow valleys with a peak, as is the nature of life. I am at my weakest on the weekend (weak-end); the lack of structure and disciplined habit exploits my vices (I have some plans for that, so we'll see how that goes next weak-end, or hopefully, strong-end). Now that I have the structure of the week things are picking up again. I have a guess at why whole days plans fall apart at the slightest lapse of discipline: hedonia. That is an apt name for the love of pleasure that overcomes me, and my body craves it like a drug more and more when I when I give it a taste. It is very hard to break from this cycle, because (I hypothesize) my subconscious mind now believes that pleasure is what I really want, deep down.

One might ask, why is this good news? It's not. The good news is that hedonia has a sister, euthymia. Euthymia is the greek word for contentedness; to be at peace with one's situation and possessions. If I choose to replace my hedonia with euthymia, or not go to hedonia in the first place, I am at peace with whatever work I must do. The problem is that euthymia is hard to attain, and even harder to remember about in the mental haze we find ourselves in throughout the day. This state is reached by mental grounding: calming oneself, entering into a state of mindfulness (i.e. the rudiments of flow), and must be maintained continually. The siren's call of hedonia will lash out at you, and will gain in strength as you deplete your willpower (though it is my belief that your willpower lasts much longer in this state than if one were to grit his teeth and try to overtly fight against the temptation). I was able to get a few important tasks done today through these techniques. More to come tomorrow.

And just for kicks and giggles:

"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion."

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Thanks Cam. I don't know about that personally though; I feel that I have more tough days than good ones as far as going towards my dreams, and my journals here will confirm that. What keeps me going is the hope that something will one day "click" and then I'll know how to get my work done.

Remember that your journaling here is still less than a years worth of time. If you consider the number of "good" days you have now, compared to say, 5 years ago, it can be quite different. Of course back then, we had different expectations of "good" and "bad"... but even if I have a few tough weeks right now, in the grand scheme it's not equivalent to years worth of being depressed. But in the moment it feels like we're having major struggles, and that perspective shift is key.

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@Tatu92 Anytime my friend; quotes are my greatest ally, and I hope they serve you well. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your own sometime.

@Cam Adair Well said. You're right, I didn't consider it in that light. It goes with the scaffolding technique: progressively setting higher and higher goals, not easing up the tension as your skills improve. From the perspective you have shown, there has been tremendous progress over the past few years. I appreciate the insight a lot, and I'll try to keep that in sight during dark times.

Day 10

Speaking of tension, today was one of the tougher days, but I am grateful for it. I messed up, I went on youtube and watched gaming related videos. I would usually advocate starting over at this point, but I don't know if that would necessarily be productive. I quickly got back on track, and didn't let hedonia set in for too long. The root of the problem that triggered my momentary lapse had to do with it being the week before exams, and a lot of emotional turmoil with friends.

I have an interesting point on this matter. It's from a post in the Art of Manliness blog, on the subject of Fragility, Resilience, and Antifragility. To be fragile is to break with volatility, but it's opposite is not Resilience, to to be unchanged by volatility, as most would think. The author of the article argues that the opposite of fragility is to grow stronger in the midst of volatility, to be Antifragile. I seek to be antifragile, to actively pursue that which makes me stronger. Conplecto asperum. I embrace adversity.

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Day 11

I watched YouTube again. In the moments today where I chose to do so, I made a conscious choice to be a coward and avoid my lab report. I chose to be comfortable in weakness, rather than embrace the edifying nature of strength. Conplecto apserum. I embrace adversity. I'm going to knock a large chunk of that report out in the half hour I have before I go to bed.

One more thing: I'm starting to find out that I have friends in my life that actually have my back. I'm not used to this. I may write more on this another time, but I take this as all the reason more to fight harder.

"The most important thing is this: to be able at any moment - to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become." - Eric Thomas

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Day 12

I can empathize with those seemingly alien creatures on our planet that live without sense of sound, smell, or sight. Are we not the same within? When it comes to our introspections we must delve into a world where our five sense no longer serve us. There are only thoughts, emotions, and the bubblings of our subconscious in the midst of those two. In this time when I seek out weakness within myself that I may root it our, my inner senses are queued to things that they once missed. Fleeting pleasures do not satisfy, only mask the temporary pain.

Why flinch from the pain? I once heard Alan Watts speak of one Buddhist teaching on pain: the best way to overcome the pain of standing near a furnace is to walk inside of it and sit at its hottest point. Embracing the horror defangs it, only to reveal the truest of friends. For pain will not hide hard truths from you, will not coddle you, and will not abandon you. Pain has the wisdom of a teacher, the strength of a fighter, and the allure of a lover. If you embrace the pain of doing hard work, there is a worthy prize for you that few receive.

I still falter, but I do not falter blindly. I had two exams and a lab report today, and more to come next week. This has not been my finest semester, but by all that is good there will be a day where I can be proud of my work.

I learn, and in learning I believe that I will soon become the person that CAN excel and CAN overcome. 

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I learn, and in learning I believe that I will soon become the person that CAN excel and CAN overcome. 

Never stop learning, and integrating what you learn is the most important learning of all.

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@Cam Adair Will do ^_^.

@WorkInProgress Agreed, but provisionally. The theoretical gives some of the greatest tools to accomplish goals in the future, once they have been learned of and integrated as Cam said above. Still, you are right in that leaves me wide open to the things that need to get done in the here and now.

Day 13

In the here and now I plan on being more consistent in meditation. An insubstantial statement, as in the past, meditation has been one of the first things to go whenever I have had a busy day, but it is something I've been working on. I also have been cutting down my social obligations so that I still am able to keep in touch with people, but now have more time to get work done. Thirdly, I have been increasing my capacity to do tasks that I don't "feel" like doing (slowly, albeit). Fourthly, I've been replacing time in front of a computer screen with time spent reading books. Lastly, I'm excited to get back into a sleep schedule soon (next week is finals), because I've been keeping this journals so short due to doing them while I am half asleep, having chosen to stay up on hour late consistently.

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Day 14

Tomorrow I have a ballroom competition, and I was practicing most of today with my partners for it. This will be my last competition for a long time, because I will be leaving the ballroom club after it due to some interpersonal conflicts that came up and were unable to resolved. I don't want to detail this complicated story here, but it's a bittersweet pill. Bitter because I'll be leaving many people behind, and I'll be leaving an activity I love. Friendships that don't transcend an activity or belief are to be treated as especially fleeting, but it is sad to see them go. There's a Latin dancing club forming next semester, so it is likely a growing experience that I am moving on from what I am comfortable on to that, but I will miss the ballroom experience almost as much as the people. On the sweet side, I made many "deep" friendships there that will come with me; in fact, this situation has made those friendships stronger. I also was given a chance to grow in both my personal integrity and in my ability to face adversity, and ultimately to be vulnerable with others when I needed support.

I bring this up, because the emotional wear and tear has had a similar effect as the wear and tear that school has brought: a weakening of my guard. I medicate through video games, and as I've been able to stay off video games over the past half year I've now been medicating myself with the internet. It's a good way to turn off my brain and not have to deal with my problems. There's a major flaw in that logic: my problems remain; it's the cowards way out. Embracing reality is the problem that I see most people struggle with the most, myself included, but I can't think of a better thing to pursue.

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Day 15

I was competing all day, and it was great. Again, as I said yesterday it was bittersweet, but much more sweet than bitter. I'll miss the friends I'm leaving behind and the unique ballroom experience that I have been a part of for the past year. I'm excited about the new friends and new chapter of my life. I can also cross off my bucket list that I have successfully competed in Viennese Waltz, which is a goal I didn't I would complete in my college career due to the dance's complexity.

Reflecting back, this whole chapter of my life has taught me not only that the best things in life come from when we stretch out of our comfort zone, but also that one of our greatest assets is when we reach out and connect with others. Being emotionally independent and resilient is essential, but equally essential is the ability to be proactive in having positive interactions with others, and in learning to trust them. You'll get hurt quite a few times, but more often than not you'll meet people that have something valuable to share with you and you with them.

That's why I really appreciate this website being here. I'm glad to just be able to post my struggles with video games and the internet in a place of like-minded individuals. Among you all I believe I can make it; I can quit gaming for good.

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That's why I really appreciate this website being here. I'm glad to just be able to post my struggles with video games and the internet in a place of like-minded individuals. Among you all I believe I can make it; I can quit gaming for good.

This is definitely a mutual sentiment. I glad to have you here. And to see your own special perspective on this struggle.

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@WorkInProgress @Tatu92 I appreciate the support guys. 

Day 16

Yesterday was a disaster, with my unstructured day leading into unproductivity. Today was better, since I had plenty to do with it being finals week, but there's still much I want to get done. My plan is to schedule out my day tomorrow morning so I will have self-imposed deadlines to meet, but I won't make them so strict that I'll burn out and give up. We'll see how it goes.

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Planning is huge. A big key for planning is to make sure it's done in the very least the night before. Waking up and planning your day, the day of, you're already behind. I also take one day each week, usually on Sunday, and plan my week out for the most part. If I need to make slight adjustments throughout the week that's fine, but having a consistent day each week to organize myself makes a huge difference.

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Very good points Cam, and I've heard those from a lot of great sources. Many of my good habits have fallen apart this semester, and now that finals week is dying down it's time to put what you suggested and many others into place. 

In fact, on that note, I want to do this detox right. I made it over 90 days without video games: I haven't played any since I've started this journal last August. That's great, and I'm genuinely pleased with that. With that said, I still have gaming related videos in my life and still procrastinate from doing my work, which has similar affects to gaming without the enjoyment. The stage I'm at is a definite improvement, and I'm in a much better position to quit completely, but I want to see the deed through. This means that I'm going to start my daily count over every time I go on YouTube, to make sure that I do this right, making tomorrow Day 1 again. I plan on success, because I know that the risks are small (just a little bit of pain) and rewards are large: achieving my life-time goals.

So what's going to enable me to succeed this time? All of you for one thing, after all you're the reason I'm still off of gaming. It's been embarrassing to come back here and report my failures, and starting over is even more embarrassing. I don't want to let myself down and I don't want to let all of you down either. I use those emotions as motivation to stay the course. Secondly, I plan on being much better about sticking with my schedule on Habitica. Earlier this semester that website in conjunction with Google Calendar had been keeping my life together, but I somehow fell off of that habit and the rest with it (it was definitely a linchpin of many habits). Thirdly, over Winter break I plan on reading and finishing Self-Directed Behavior.

Self-Directed Behavior is a book I saw while working at a bookstore during part of my break two summers ago. I saw the price tag of over $100 for a small, novel-sized book and couldn't believe my eyes (they jacked up the price because it was a required text-book for some obscure honors class). As I started reading it, I thought to myself, even though the price of this book is ridiculous compared to that of any other book, the price compared to the wisdom contained within is a steal. I went on Amazon, found a used copy that was two editions earlier and got it for.... $0.99 (this should say something about the textbook industry). Ironically, after all of the work to get it, I still haven't gotten much farther than the first chapter. It has so much useful advice in it that I find it difficult to apply even the beginning points. By breaking it down into chunks I'll have a chance to apply it's knowledge and (hopefully) master it. In hoc singo vinces - In this sign you will conquer.

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Day 1

So far so good. Not too much studying got done; I did, however, finally give away my Steam account, so that won't be a future temptation.

Focus is my friend. It's focus that will keep my away from the distractions that form bad habits. Part of the first chapter of Self-Directed Behavior speaks of how all habits have three components: an antecedent, a behavior, and a consequence. In this scenario the antecedent is boredom/pain, the behavior is seeking out a distraction, and the consequence is alleviating said boredom/pain. To change this habit I must change one of the three components. The consequence of this triad results in pretty bad long-term results. That's something worth paying attention to. How I change I change it is a different question, but I hope I'll find more answers as I progress through the book.

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Day 2

I'm finally finished with exams. This is where things have gotten dicey in the past. I'm about to have a month of free time. Traveling to see relatives will help, but I'll still have plenty of opportunities to be lazy and fall into bad habits. If I am to ever master my habits I must not let this happen. I have quite a few books out to focus on and keep me busy. Today was very productive, and I'm equally excited about tomorrow.

"Well done is better than well said." - Ben Franklin

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