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The Journey Within


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Hey, Pierce,

Thank you very much for your great advice. I'm really happy that all of this time I spent on gaming is not just wasting away, but rather getting put into new talents.

I noticed that you're taking latin dance. I'm also taking a social dance (waltz, salsa, square dancing) class next quarter.

What's your favorite kind?



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@hycniejsy Life is a battlefield. I'll have to try that tip about smiling; it seems very simple, yet powerful.

134 Days w/o Gaming, 10 Days w/o YouTube

Some of my other family arrived today, and it was a really great experience to take it easy and joke around with them. I've spent most of the day talking with relatives, and haven't gotten much reading or math done otherwise; that's been good though. I can't think of a more important task right now than to spend time with family. Everything else can wait, it'll work out, but it's time to embrace the present moment. In fact, it's always time to embrace the present moment, but in this time specifically the planners and goals need to be put away for a time.

And that's a good choice in my opinion. You should be focused on relatives and family on your life when you get the chance to do it.

I was away from my hometown for almost 2 MONTHS and after coming back there for christmas I started to appreciate it more.


135 Days w/o Gaming, 11 Days w/o YouTube

What a surreal day. I feel like only a few hours worth of activities have occurred today, and yet the day is over already. Still, in the time that has passed it's been a good day.

I had a chance to see Rogue One with my cousins, but decided to skip. I went to the library and read books with my dad instead. Strange choice, I know, but I feel at peace with it. I rarely get to see my cousins, but spending that time in front of a screen didn't feel like the right way to honor time with them (and yet I am in front of a screen now; it's very easy to see my double-standard). I planned on taking them out dancing tonight, since they've never done that, but they both bailed as the time started approaching. That was a bit of a let down, especially since that meant that I wouldn't have a ride there and would need to stay home, but I quickly became at peace with it. I believe it is foolish to make one's own happiness dependent on the actions of others. What this scenario did do, was bring about was bad memories (or more accurately, I allowed my mind to bring them up). I haven't posted about this before, but it really hurt when I quit ballroom. It's long story why I left, but it was becoming a toxic environment. Leaving definitely felt like the right thing to do, but it hurt (and still does) to think of the loss of relationships that won't carry over into this next phase in my life. I'm trying to find a new social group to replace that one, since the last one really helped me to get out of my comfort zone and have lots of quality interactions with others. I'm hoping my friend's latin dancing club will be good fit, but I'll need to otherwise be on the lookout for other activities as a back up. On the bright side, I'm being more proactive about this challenge now that it is in the forefront of my mind, and have already been thinking of these activities.

Well, to be honest I don't truly understand why people wants to spend time with each other in the cinema.

You're unable to talk there, because you'll be disturbing others. Costs A LOT (at least in Poland ticked for cinema can cost something like 25 złotych and the only day with discount is Tuesday, where the real crowds come to the cinema) and there are ton of ads before movie. Isn't it better to purchase a movie and watch it at home? You can still interact with cousins or anyone else during watching and have a really nice time. :)

You don't feel comfortable with going dancing alone? I think we have an expert of this case, that should give you a lesson how to do it: it's Cameron! :)


Good luck on your challenge!

Mad Pharmacist

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@LuxoLamp any time, friend, and I'm happy for you. That's really exciting that you're picking up social dance. I consider social dance to be weight lifting for social skills, because mine have improved drastically from the last year and a half of dance experience I've had (which started out with a college dance course as well). I've been doing the dances that fall under the umbrella of American Ballroom, and enjoy East-Coast Swing and Rumba the most when I go out social dancing. They all have their merits, and I would recommend remaining open minded towards all of them.

@hycniejsy Yeah, I'm trying to maximize my time in general, but especially when I'm with others. I've spent too much of my life in front of a screen already. As for going dancing on my own, I'd probably enjoy that more than with friends, to be honest. I enjoy a challenge, and the raw social challenge of purely dancing with strangers is really great. My obstacle is not nerve or enjoyment, but rather the fact that I'm primarily reliant on friends for rides right now. I may find a way to remedy this in the future, but overall it's a fact I accept. It's not that big a problem anyway, and with some of those opportunities lost, I have more time for other ones.

136 Days w/o Gaming, 12 Days w/o YouTube

I've been thinking about the big picture of the path I want to direct my life towards for a long time now, but today I was thinking more on the little pieces that will help me get there. School, fitness, social connections, and miscellaneous personal development are the four main things I want to focus on next semester. I've always put school as my top priority when speaking with others or to myself, but it honestly hasn't been. I'm excited about actually making that the case this semester, because I have much more intrinsic motivation (reasons why there will be positive benefits now from doing this, not just in the distant future) in putting effort forth for my coursework. Fitness has been important as far as maintaining the body, but I'm at the point where I want to start gaining strength and physique, not just keep from negative side-effects. Social skills and other self-development projects (reading more and meditating) have both been lacking as well. The reason behind the subpar results in all four of these areas is simple: lack of consistency. I'm looking forward to setting up a routine next week, so that I can start gaining the results that only dedication can garner. I was tempted multiple times to fall back into my old ways today, being surrounded by cousins that are both heavily into gaming and watching videos all day, but remembering these goals helped me to quickly forget about it. That "fake" entertainment can't compare to the enjoyment that comes from both the process and the product of the activities I described above.

One last thing: being constantly around relatives has given me a lot more social interaction than I usually get at home. This time has made me reflect on a hybrid introvert/extrovert interaction to situations. I find that being able to string combos (yes, I will use such a geeky analogy) between the two during any social interaction, can be much more useful than just one. The intense discipline and focus of the former combined with the friendliness and powerful energy of the latter make a formidable force. It's the balance between the two, and getting the timing for when each is required, that is difficult. Something further to work on.

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Social skills and other self-development projects (reading more and meditating) have both been lacking as well. The reason behind the subpar results in all four of these areas is simple: lack of consistency. I'm looking forward to setting up a routine next week, so that I can start gaining the results that only dedication can garner.

This is the right approach. Create a system that leads you to results over time.  

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137 Days w/o Gaming, 0 Days w/o YouTube

Disgrace. I lacked the integrity of self to keep with my goal, even in such a short period of time. I'd been slowly inching closer to the line over the past couple of days, and today was the crescendo where I crossed over it. This came from a lack of focus on the big picture. That side of the line has a sharp drop-off where I keep on sliding until I muster the will to decide to climb back up. The closer I get to the edge, the less the burden of responsibility, but also the slicker the ground. It's a paradox though: responsibility and discipline are freedom; the easy way is the hard way, and the hard way is the easy way.
Even going onto YouTube to listen to music can be dangerous. Also, being around cousins who play video games during the majority of their waking hours doesn't help either. On the bright side, I have kept my focus on the big picture of why I want to stay away from gaming when around them. Games provide a paltry sum, because if I choose to have adventures and develop myself in the virtual world, I will miss out on the adventures and development to be had in the real world. I will waste my life, and that is really my only fear in life. Therefore, I am resolved to continue onward, stronger than ever.
I was reading Steven Covey's book, First Things First, earlier today. In it he talks about many factors that lead towards a more fluid system of productivity. The most painful one to read about was integrity to the self. I have this skill in so many ways, especially when dealing with others or with moral principles, but when it comes to daily habits I frequently stumble. One foot in front of the other and focusing on the goal at hand will see me through.
I'm putting it in writing, and mean it: tomorrow will be my first day of 90 continuous days without YouTube.
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The most painful one to read about was integrity to the self. I have this skill in so many ways, especially when dealing with others or with moral principles, but when it comes to daily habits I frequently stumble. One foot in front of the other and focusing on the goal at hand will see me through.

If you can do it in other areas you can do it with yourself. This capacity is within yourself.  

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@Cam Adair The journey is within, and the capacity is within.

138 Days w/o Gaming, 1 Day w/o YouTube

Environment and health have a lot to do with habits. Keeping these factors in mind help with knowing when one is at his weakest is essential. These principles and many others are good, but they are not enough for times of adversity. For those times I will need toughness, and I will need to remember what I am fighting for. 

"Discipline is caring more than normal and more than necessary about the result."

I want to excel in my goals, to become a new man. I will only reach them if I have the strength to make my actions match my words.

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140 Days w/o Gaming, 0 Days w/o YouTube

I made it yesterday since I was on the road all day.Today, though, I broke integrity again. The bad habits that come from being at home.

It's hard to understand why I can't hold to what is important to me in the moment. I've been trying to figure this out for five years. In that moment, that which I hate becomes important and that which I love becomes unimportant. Life is so surreal. Still, I cling to the hope that tomorrow will be different, even though tomorrow is always one day out of my grasp.

Edited by Pierce
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@Cam Adair It's a feeling of mental anguish. My first instinct is to flee from the work, and even if I overcome that, there's a constant grating that makes it difficult to continue more than 15 minutes. My mind brings thoughts of many other distracting things I could be doing, even if it's as simple as getting up to get water, and if it gets me away from the pain I am more than happy to give in to them. In certain environments this pain is gone and I can work in a state of flow for a time, but as someone who doesn't have a car it can be difficult at times to get away from my home where my bad habits have been formed. There is a library within walking distance, and the solution is likely to push myself to go over there, but it's easy to make excuses in the morning. I think that's what I'm going to try tomorrow. Feel free to give any other advice if you think of it. Thanks for the poignant questions Cam.

141 Days w/o Gaming, 0 Days w/o YouTube

Momentum is against me, and I still find it difficult to go the right way. Just like yesterday, I woke up and tried to resist wasting time on the computer, but that quickly failed.

One thing I was thinking about today was why do some people fail while others succeed when it comes to doing hard work. If it were some esoteric secret, only a small, highly educated circle would have this ability; there's definitely more to it. From best I can tell, it comes from one's ability to look to the future, and how badly one is willing to exert him/herself to make the vision a reality. It's about ideals, ambitions, and long-term thinking. It's also about, "enjoying the grind". 

I plan on going to the library down the street tomorrow and apply these principles. I'm optimistic about it, but want to keep my guard up.

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@Cam Adair that's a good suggestion. I'll see if I can remember to put that into practice.

@Tatu92 It's always a gift to meet others with similar experiences; thanks for the support. You are growing progressively stronger, something I can tell from your journal, which is very encouraging. It means you found ways to overcome what I described above, which affirms that I can too.

142 Days w/o Gaming, 1 Day w/o YouTube

It feels like it's been more than one day without YouTube, not so much that today was a long day, but more that I feel like I'm picking back up from where I left off before relapse. Like I've said in the past: using electrons to escape pain just puts your life in stasis. Time continues to flow, but your character arc doesn't develop that much. 

That was not the case today. It was by no means a perfect day (no such thing), but there were many times I was in a state of flow. I did a few chores around the house, made plans to hang out with friends this weekend before the semester starts again, lifted weights, and talked with my parents a lot. I simply enjoyed getting things done. I also was enjoying life in general, which made any escapes look unattractive as options in comparison. I can tell I'm regaining my joy, because the little things in life are gaining their importance again. For example, getting to lift weights again today for the first time in many weeks was almost a spiritual experience. Having the capacity to be able to tell my friends jokes again is another example. The beauty of the moment was recaptured.

I hope to keep the flow and joy of life tomorrow, and likely will go to the library since I didn't make the time today.

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@WorkInProgress That's a distinction I learned that hard way. Thanks for the encouragement.

144 Days w/o Gaming, 1 Day w/o YouTube

I didn't want to post more negative news yesterday, since I fell off the saddle again. For most of yesterday I felt caged, like I couldn't resist.

I woke up today, and was really struggling in the morning. At times I thought I'd lose the day again, but I couldn't face that happening yet again. I found myself doing anything to stay off the computer, even if it meant just sitting there silently for a moment or working on a menial task. Over time the tug grew weaker, and I was able to pull back; the joy hard work returned.  I've by no means been incredibly productive today, but I've studied various subjects for my classes starting up next week and did a bit of planning.

That's what this is all about, a fight between the short-term pleasures of electronics and the long-term joy that comes from hard work. It's been a five year long battle, and I want this to be the year I win. Every year I give to addiction is a year further I am from my goals. I've been at the crossroads for a while now, how much I really want to quit. Mentally there isn't a shadow of a doubt I want to, but on a more primal level part of me doesn't. If it takes the level of commitment that it did today, or even more, to get there... so be it.

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145 Days w/o Gaming, 2 Days w/o YouTube

The pull of temptation was weaker today, but it was still most definitely there. It felt good to know that each time when I chose to do work instead of answering the pull, was time that I was putting towards my goals. I did a bit of studying and planning for the semester, since I'm stuck at home due to the ice outside. It was more time I got to prepare for school, but it was unfortunate that I didn't get to go out and see my friends tonight as I'd been looking forward doing all week. That, in part, brought on a bit of a depressive episode. Late last month I said that I wanted to focus 30 days on having joy again, and so I knew that I couldn't let those thoughts continue. I lost in a cycle of self-pity, thinking of how many friends I'd lost in the last few years, and how little time I spend with even those that are left. It's something that's been haunting me a lot lately as I've been stuck at home.

I knew that I had to shift my thinking. I thought of the many things I have to be grateful for, of my goals, and of the many people that are in worse situations than me. Each of these three thoughts spoke to the wisdom of having joy for being alive in the present moment. Also, it's painful to admit it, but I think there are components of lack of self-esteem at work here. That's something that will improve from positive self-talk as well.

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146 Days w/o Gaming, 3 Days w/o YouTube

My next semester starts tomorrow, and I feel a little jittery. I need straight A's this semester to still have a chance at medical school. I've been studying quite a bit over the break to get as much of a head start as I can, but tomorrow is where I'll really get an idea of how the semester is going to be. I have to give my full effort if I'm going to make it.

I have a goal worth fighting for, and that's what keeps me going each day. Self-improvement, and the hope that I can make the world a better place. Lofty goals, especially when the bar is just close enough each day for my fingertips to graze it, but not an inch closer. Hey, but I see that bar moving farther down the path each time, so it must be on the the run and I'm gaining ground. I don't have any delusions on the matter, lofty goals take lofty effort. Just because the first couple miles in the journey of 1000 are arduous doesn't mean they're all going to be. Calves get stronger, skin becomes bronzed, and grit becomes an old friend. I'm making it, and I'm going to keep on making it. I've made a home in the cave of testing, becoming comfortable with habitual discomfort, and knowing that the pervasive outer blackness is only there because there's so much light on the inside that there isn't room for any more elsewhere. I will overcome.

Theoden: So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?

Aragorn: Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.

Theoden: For death and glory.

Aragorn: For Rohan. For your people.

I'm going to ride out and meet them. Boots on my feet and sword in my hand. Death or victory.

Edited by Pierce
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@WorkInProgress Thanks!

147 Days w/o Gaming, 4 Days w/o YouTube

Now that's what I call a first day. All of my classes so far are definitely going to be difficult, but manageable. For example, in Anatomy lab today we studied all of the bones in the skull for almost 3 hours straight. There had to have been at least 30 new terms being thrown at us on day 1, and we were expected to catch on fast. I like this challenge, I like it a lot. I'm enjoying Calculus as well, and it's definitely something I can learn to do well at at if I'm willing to put in the time. That's the key: start studying immediately, and don't slow down. The losing steam bit was what stopped me every time in previous semesters.
Other than classes, it was just good to be out of the house. Lifting weights was great, as was bumping into old friends; heck, I even tried to make a few new ones. Furthermore, I'm really excited to start studying. That's something that is actually quite enjoyable with the constant pull towards addictive behaviors being weak at this point in time. What I'm trying to say can be best captured in this quote:
"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." - Pearl S. Buck
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148 Days w/o Gaming, 5 Days w/o YouTube

It's been a tiring day, but it's been good to have put in a full day's work. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, it's the feeling that one gets from, "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run."  It's all about momentum, and I just need to keep it up. The main thing I'm concerned about is morale, because I haven't gotten to have quality time with friends since well before the break. There's a Salsa night at a restaurant tomorrow night that some of my friends are planning on going to, and I'm thinking of going to it to as well to blow off steam, but it's really late at night and would sap a lot of energy out of me for the next day (and beyond in sleep debt). There are a lot of trade-offs on the line here, between productivity and social activity.  With that said, I only want to go if I can get far enough ahead in my work tomorrow, so the point may be moot.

Overall, I'm at a good point.  I've been able to meet with a few of my friends, I'm enjoying all of my classes, all of my professors are fantastic, and I'm steadily going towards my goals in all areas of my life. The only thing wrong is that I'm not especially happy. I have a hunch that this feeling is largely coming from imbalances in my sleep schedule, since I've had to wake up very early each morning to catch the bus and get to my classes on time. I also think it has to do with what I was talking about above: lack of (or at least perceived lack of) quality social interactions with my friends. Maybe the body is just addicted to misery; it always tries to find something to be unhappy about. 

Deep down I wish I could find the power to be happy as I am, as both the Buddhists and the Stoics teach. I've done it before. I've been able to pull myself out of every rut I've been in. I know I can do it this time as well. It's just hard without video games to self-medicate with. I'll sleep on it and try to deep and connect with that internal well of joy tomorrow. I've had few problems that sleep didn't cure.

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@Cam Adair Very true, and indeed it did.

149 Days w/o Gaming, 6 Days w/o YouTube

I have a Calculus quiz to study for, but I want to post this much. Building toughness does seem to be the best way to be happy in any situation. I'm trying to build that in general, and especially with social interactions. I'm trying to foster a few core friendships, rather than worrying about the larger social groups I was once a part of. I'm also trying to pare down on going out and doing social activities. At this point in time grades and internal well-being are the priorities. They are both at a critical junction that must end in success. I don't want to think about the alternative, because it would not be pretty. Success in both of these areas, though, will bring about incredible results. The choice is simple.

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150 Days w/o Gaming, 7 Days w/o YouTube

The quiz went ok, and classes are continuing on well. Having this weekend will be nice, though. Anyway, my trek for trying to find an internal locus of happiness continues. I met with a very wise friend for lunch, and admitted to him that I had been depressed lately due the feeling of lack of connection with friends. As a fellow introvert, he said he could relate. His advice was to continue on my journey of self-discovery, and to lessen the attachment to the thought that being around others will make me happy. More and more I'm seeing from different sources that being a loner is a bad thing. Society can be very bleak, and sometimes it is good to take a retreat to look within and rediscover purpose.There needs to be healing within before I can work on healing the what is around me. I can turn loneliness into solitude. I can turn a time of suffering into a time of gaining strength. And Strength is worth struggling for.
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