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My journal - Thomas


Phoenix
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So since my last post I have been playing guitar every single day for at least 10 minutes and I must say it's working out pretty well!
I've followed Cam's advice on joining the 100 Club. The idea is to devote at least 10 minutes a day for 100 days to become decent at any skill. 
Recently I've learned new chords and just started a bit on fingerpicking. Yesterday I recorded several chords each by each and played them back so it sounded like I was playing a song. I made my sister guess what song I was playing, that was awesome! Now I am no where near the level to play different chords afer another but I'm getting there. My fingers also hurt less while playing since I developed calluses on my fingers. A long term goal would be playing basic songs or even playing in a small band, but these are far away goals for now. What's important for now is that I'm practicing every single day. Start small and definitely don't try this as a starter :P  

In other news, I've had trouble keeping up the habit of meditating. I just don't have the motivation currently to meditate at the start of the day. What's the point of it anyway? What benefits come with meditating? What are people's experiences after they started meditating? 
I'm not feeling slightly different after meditating, it feels more like an extended sleep session. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, I don't know.

I've also dropped the habit of cold showers. I still managed to do it for approximately 7-10 days, without really having the intention to make it to 30 days when I began. Maybe I'll try the 30 day cold shower challenge again one day .

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The idea of doing something for 10 minutes each day for 100 days sounds great! I'm going to try that too.

As for meditation I had a little mixed feelings today as well, but then I stumbled upon this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation and it managed to improve my determination!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Procastination is a serious issue for me. I got all the time in the world yet I find myself watching random youtube video's or reading useless trivia on reddit. I don't know what's wrong with me, why can't I get things done? I should be doing homework. Gaming was a form of procastination but what I'm doing right now is basically the same. After two months of not gaming I feel I'm still not am making progress towards anything. I wish I could meet more or new people, but I don't know where to start. A problem is that I'm not putting myself in social situations. Either way I just NEED something to fill my time with.

Despite all this I am almost 25% through my 100-day challenge of practicing guitar daily. Switching chords is going better as well. Once I develop speed I will start to learn barre chords. The past week I've been practicing with my sister and it was fun. Can't wait till I get to a better level.
I've also picked up my cold shower habit, which I'm doing for 3 days right now, hoping to beat my old record of 10!

Tomorrow I will receive my first book 'The power of habit' by Charles Duhigg. Let's see if reading helps.

Edited by Phoenix
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Yesterday was a really good day, I did not once start up my own computer. Was pretty much whole day on school and joined an after-school discussion between students and teachers for the heck of it. It's interesting to see which students join it as it's not a mandatory event. You can immediately see who's motivated, good way to seperate the wheat from the chaff. Same thing applies for other area's as well. Notice when people go to the gym in the evening or the morning, most of them are ripped as hell. Or the people who show up for running while it's raining. 

Today I read the first chapter of The power of habit. It's really inspiring to read how an overweight woman in financial trouble changed her life by changing her habits.
I'm still practicing guitar. Basic chords are not a problem, but my speed is. I guess it takes more practice.
Day 5 out of 30 done from cold shower challenge. It's tough in the beginning but it gets better once the body becomes fully cold. I notice I sleep better, my blood circulates more and my skin looks healthier. 
As for the social side: I'm currently organizing the annual fun event for 15/16 people from my sport club and it's going pretty well so far! We used to organize it in the past but nobody really bothered to organize it anymore, so... I took the task of doing it! I learned from past mistakes of organizing events so this time I'll do it right. 
I do everything: plan 1 month ahead so people can take a day off, managing transportation methods, what will be the schedule for the night, how much will it cost, who will join the event, choosing between alternatives etc. Great way to develop leadership! 
 

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Hey Thomas! Great to hear your update. It's always good to surround yourself more by the students who are motivated. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If you wanted to have better grades, hanging out with those students would make a big difference! 

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Great progress Thomas! Your best bet at beating procrastination is to have clear goals that you care about. Also sharing these goals with other people helps, as you can keep each other accountable. But you seem to know that already: organizing the fun event is a good example.

Switching chords take a bit to master. Fortunately there are many slow or mid-tempo songs that use just a few easy chords. Dansen aan Zee by Bløf for example. Verse: a-, C, G, D; chorus: e-, a-, D, G (and a quick D/F# you can skip); bridge same as chorus, een for je tranen to waaraan we verdwijnen: e-, C, e-. C, e-, D. C. Hope this helps!

Edited by Tom
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Thank you for your responses. Switching chords correctly does take time to master, there really is no other way to it than to keep practicing. I like that song, it's much easier to play than the current song I'm practicing (Het is een nacht by Guus Meeuwis). 

I have some unfortunate news: I relapsed (oops!). Yeah, I'm not gonna lie about it. There are days that I'm so bored and last weekend I couldn't take it anymore and I installed wow again. Not even playing the guitar or reading a book could have prevented me from doing that. I don't have anything else to add really other than that I'm ashamed? I felt like I deserved some entertainment and I know it is not a good reward but that was the only thing I could think of at that moment.

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Happy to help :)

Sorry to hear about your feelings of boredom and shame. Don't be too hard on yourself though. A relapse doesn't invalidate all the progress you are making. One step back, two steps forward! Take a look at the Relapse section, sure you'll find something interesting.

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Hey Thomas. Thanks for sharing - being open in these moments is important. These two videos can help you:

What To Do If You Relapse And Start Gaming Again
How to Reward Yourself Without Gaming

Remember, you game for specific reasons, so trying to come up with ideas for how you can avoid being bored next weekend is key. Being out of the house will also help a lot. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still at relapse at this point, in fact I'm playing right now. Ever since quitting games nothing really has changed, at least that's how I feel. At start my focus went from playing games to browsing the internet in my free time. Yes, I did learn to play guitar a bit but I'm currently at a stage where practicing feels like work. I've been switching from A to D chord over the past weeks but I can't make 60 chord changes in 1 minute. Maybe 40 at MAX and even then they sound bad.
So if I spend my time mostly browsing the internet what difference does it make if I game or not? A week ago my old classmate contacted me if I wanted to play a game, so we did play a game as that's the only way we're keeping contact. That was another game by the way, but we're playing that one casually. 
The fact that I have a knee injury for a few weeks is contributing to me playing games as I don't have an outlet and I'm missing social contact. I missed the sense of joy, and not feeling alone every time on saturday nights. You can't blame me on that. I'm not the best role model I know that, but replacing something you have done for years with something else is really hard. When I first quit I was unprepared and couldn't find something to replace it with. I appreciate your video's Cam, I have watched them several times but it doesn't come through to me. I need to figure this out, untill then I'm still gaming. 

Despite everything there are some positive things. I am still doing cold showers. I have been showering cold since 16 november every day (except 1 day) and almost finished the 30 day cold shower challenge! Next week there's an event I have created for my sports club (~15 people attending) and we're really excited! (we go karting, lasergaming and bbq after). I've made preperations one month in advance to get this done and it's going well so far. This is the first time I do something like this, it's good for my leadership skills. There are a number of things to think of: budget, availability, transportation, reservation etc. 
I also submitted extra available hours for my work to fulfill my time with, so I can make money instead of playing video games. Next week I work 10 more hours so yay for me! :)
As for reading, I haven't done that in a while. I still need to read Powerful Habits.
The rest of my time I spend on school/homework. Yesterday I had a pretty productive day by doing my homework for the whole afternoon, I'm proud of myself for that. Today I have been gaming all day, not all too proud.
When my knee injury is over, I will most likely run 4/5 times a week again. Running will ALWAYS have priority over gaming, even back in the days when I was gaming.

So that's my journal from the past week. I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

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Hey Thomas! Great to read your update. If all you do is mindlessly browse after you quit, you are right, there is no difference between that and gaming.

But the point of quitting games isn't to sit around bored all day mindlessly browsing. It's like quitting games to just watch TV. Not the point.

At the end of the day, this always comes down to you and what you truly want for your life. Progress takes time. If you didn't complete the 90 day detox you didn't really give yourself a chance to experience the changes that happen in your life. Anything worth it takes time. Think of it this way: When you quit you didn't feel like you made a lot of progress. Ok, that's fair, I get that. So how much progress have you made now that you're back gaming again? ;)

It's all a matter of perspective. I totally get that it's not easy, and that's the point. By it not being easy, it forces you into a situation where you have to choose whether you're going to step up or not. If you want to be successful in life, you have to do what others won't. How many successful people do you know that play games all day long? I doubt you know many. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to push through adversity and step into the unknown. To push your comfort zone. Quitting games is a decision you make to pursue all of that.

If someone who isn't a gamer has a knee injury, what do they do with their time at home? Lots of other things. Gaming is just what you know.

If you haven't read this article by Mark Manson, it's a good one. It touches on the notion of your identity and procrastination.

Anyways, good job sticking with the cold showers and all of that. I'd encourage you to do the 90 day detox for the simple reason of gaining a greater perspective on your relationship to gaming. Think of it this way: if you can't go 90 days without gaming.. you probably shouldn't be gaming.

We've got your back brother. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

After 1,5 months of gaming I figured out I should probably stop. The moment I have relapsed I have been playing games every single day. It gave me a temporary escape to feelings of boredom, stress, anxiety and cruel reality. Now what would be a better way to start 2016 game-free, as cliche as it may sound. I must admit I am not even fully prepared as I was just playing games this morning. The past few days just felt so.. empty. With many people out there having the time of their lives while you're at home I wonder where did it go wrong? Maybe due to having no other form of entertainment. Fortunately, pain is temporary as certain events are merely snapshots and will fade away. That doesn't however justify the continuing cycle of binge gaming, thinking it's okay. 
I found out that in order to quit games I need to be prepared. You don't just quit out of the blue, you need to have a plan. Suddenly games are cut out of your life and you have to find a replacement for that. If you suddenly quit and have not plan, then you'll soon go back to gaming. Therefore I hope things will turn for the better this time. Unfortunately I cannot change back the time, but I can move on from games and move forward. I'm still young and I have a bright future ahead. I know very well what I need to do in order to succeed in life. The first step would be cutting off games. 
Imagine the amount of hours, days, months played in games to be put into something productive. Not just by one individual, but by everybody. There would be no war, everything would be perfect. But Utopia does not exist, and I am not perfect either. This relapse has proven that not just every journey goes perfect. Success without struggle would be boring, wouldn't it? 
Anyway, today I met up with my family. It was great seeing them again. After that I had my first 10k run of the year. I'm still not fully recovered of my knee injury but I am making great progress so far and I can run again. I also deleted a game of my computer to fight the urge so I could spend my time on more usefull things.

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Welcome back Thomas. Happy new year and congratulation on your 10k!

You seem to have learned a lot from your relapse. Take it as a positive experience. Be grateful for it.

If you haven't read The Power of Habit I'd highly recommend it.

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After 1,5 months of gaming I figured out I should probably stop. The moment I have relapsed I have been playing games every single day. It gave me a temporary escape to feelings of boredom, stress, anxiety and cruel reality. Now what would be a better way to start 2016 game-free, as cliche as it may sound. I must admit I am not even fully prepared as I was just playing games this morning. The past few days just felt so.. empty. With many people out there having the time of their lives while you're at home I wonder where did it go wrong? Maybe due to having no other form of entertainment. Fortunately, pain is temporary as certain events are merely snapshots and will fade away. That doesn't however justify the continuing cycle of binge gaming, thinking it's okay. 
I found out that in order to quit games I need to be prepared. You don't just quit out of the blue, you need to have a plan. Suddenly games are cut out of your life and you have to find a replacement for that. If you suddenly quit and have not plan, then you'll soon go back to gaming. Therefore I hope things will turn for the better this time. Unfortunately I cannot change back the time, but I can move on from games and move forward. I'm still young and I have a bright future ahead. I know very well what I need to do in order to succeed in life. The first step would be cutting off games. 
Imagine the amount of hours, days, months played in games to be put into something productive. Not just by one individual, but by everybody. There would be no war, everything would be perfect. But Utopia does not exist, and I am not perfect either. This relapse has proven that not just every journey goes perfect. Success without struggle would be boring, wouldn't it? 
Anyway, today I met up with my family. It was great seeing them again. After that I had my first 10k run of the year. I'm still not fully recovered of my knee injury but I am making great progress so far and I can run again. I also deleted a game of my computer to fight the urge so I could spend my time on more usefull things.

You ran with an injured knee? Impressive. Don't rehurt it though! I once had a nasty ankle on my left foot from running through the pain, and it took me ca. 10 years to fully heal. Good luck.

Concerning quitting. I had resolved to following multiple goals through 2015. With mixed success. For example, I managed to have cold showers every morning, every day. But I did not manage to stay off sweets.

So how did I manage one and not the other? Cold showers are not exactly pleasant, especially in the New Jersey winter. And at any time, I could have switched to warm water. But I didn't. Yet for snacks... I always caved in. Why?

I think one difference was that I only shower in the morning and that is it. If I was only tempted to skip snacks for breakfast, that would have been no problem at all. But I eat more than breakfast.

I am tempted multiple times a day to break my vows with eating. Would I shower multiple times a day, I would probably have to cut off the warm water supply for my apartment.

So the first solution is to - of course - get rid of your games (or sweets in my case). Even if you brave through the presence of games, it takes energy away from your willpower. We have discussed this at length here in this forum, I believe.

But here is the new point I found, and it is an extension of the 'Slight Edge' principle from Jeff Olson: aim for not playing for the morning. At lunch, pat yourself on the back you did not play in the morning. At 6 pm, celebrate the victory for not playing again. And before you go to bed, make another x in your calendar for not having played.

Don't focus on a single day when you are tempted to play. You are tempted more than once during that day. Focus on single stretches of hours during the day. If necessary, focus on each hour you withstand playing. Hour for hour. Celebrate each one. 

Sometimes when we have trouble conforming to a larger goal, we really have to take it step by step. A day without gaming can seem too much. But an hour without gaming we can probably do. Celebrate yourself more often during the day when you are quitting gaming.

 

Edited by Florian
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Welcome back Thomas. Happy new year and congratulation on your 10k!

You seem to have learned a lot from your relapse. Take it as a positive experience. Be grateful for it.

If you haven't read The Power of Habit I'd highly recommend it.

Thanks Tom, happy new year too! 
Relapse has given me more insight in things I do not want. As Cam mentioned in one of his posts, remember why you quit in the first place, is one particular quote which is stuck in my mind. I have the book right beside me, should definitely read again!
 

After 1,5 months of gaming I figured out I should probably stop. The moment I have relapsed I have been playing games every single day. It gave me a temporary escape to feelings of boredom, stress, anxiety and cruel reality. Now what would be a better way to start 2016 game-free, as cliche as it may sound. I must admit I am not even fully prepared as I was just playing games this morning. The past few days just felt so.. empty. With many people out there having the time of their lives while you're at home I wonder where did it go wrong? Maybe due to having no other form of entertainment. Fortunately, pain is temporary as certain events are merely snapshots and will fade away. That doesn't however justify the continuing cycle of binge gaming, thinking it's okay. 
I found out that in order to quit games I need to be prepared. You don't just quit out of the blue, you need to have a plan. Suddenly games are cut out of your life and you have to find a replacement for that. If you suddenly quit and have not plan, then you'll soon go back to gaming. Therefore I hope things will turn for the better this time. Unfortunately I cannot change back the time, but I can move on from games and move forward. I'm still young and I have a bright future ahead. I know very well what I need to do in order to succeed in life. The first step would be cutting off games. 
Imagine the amount of hours, days, months played in games to be put into something productive. Not just by one individual, but by everybody. There would be no war, everything would be perfect. But Utopia does not exist, and I am not perfect either. This relapse has proven that not just every journey goes perfect. Success without struggle would be boring, wouldn't it? 
Anyway, today I met up with my family. It was great seeing them again. After that I had my first 10k run of the year. I'm still not fully recovered of my knee injury but I am making great progress so far and I can run again. I also deleted a game of my computer to fight the urge so I could spend my time on more usefull things.

You ran with an injured knee? Impressive. Don't rehurt it though! I once had a nasty ankle on my left foot from running through the pain, and it took me ca. 10 years to fully heal. Good luck.

Concerning quitting. I had resolved to following multiple goals through 2015. With mixed success. For example, I managed to have cold showers every morning, every day. But I did not manage to stay off sweets.

So how did I manage one and not the other? Cold showers are not exactly pleasant, especially in the New Jersey winter. And at any time, I could have switched to warm water. But I didn't. Yet for snacks... I always caved in. Why?

I think one difference was that I only shower in the morning and that is it. If I was only tempted to skip snacks for breakfast, that would have been no problem at all. But I eat more than breakfast.

I am tempted multiple times a day to break my vows with eating. Would I shower multiple times a day, I would probably have to cut off the warm water supply for my apartment.

So the first solution is to - of course - get rid of your games (or sweets in my case). Even if you brave through the presence of games, it takes energy away from your willpower. We have discussed this at length here in this forum, I believe.

But here is the new point I found, and it is an extension of the 'Slight Edge' principle from Jeff Olson: aim for not playing for the morning. At lunch, pat yourself on the back you did not play in the morning. At 6 pm, celebrate the victory for not playing again. And before you go to bed, make another x in your calendar for not having played.

Don't focus on a single day when you are tempted to play. You are tempted more than once during that day. Focus on single stretches of hours during the day. If necessary, focus on each hour you withstand playing. Hour for hour. Celebrate each one. 

Sometimes when we have trouble conforming to a larger goal, we really have to take it step by step. A day without gaming can seem too much. But an hour without gaming we can probably do. Celebrate yourself more often during the day when you are quitting gaming.

 

Concerning my knee injury, I really want to run again. The moment I felt it was healed I did some interval training and it worked out pretty well. Despite that I still feel my knee, so I guess I should slow down a bit. 

I really like that quote of Jeff Olson by not playing in the morning. I feel like that whatever you do in the morning, will have its influence throughout the rest of the day. Let's say if I were gaming in the morning, then I would most likely game in the afternoon as well. In the morning you're the most bright, so I will use that momentum to its fullest. In the evening I find it harder to do dull tasks as homework, so these are things I'll most likely do in the morning. If we're using that logic, going earlier to bed will only bring positive influence as A. You're getting more energy and B. New start of the day, more likely to do your tasks. Guess I should try that. Oh and once I finish Power of Habit my next book will be Slight Edge.

Not having to game was generally not my problem, it was the boredom. The hours go by fast when you're doing other things, sometimes the day is already over.
But I can't expect deleting games will solve all my problems for me. That was never claimed in the knowledge I acquired. It requires a proactive approach to change bad habits and to create new ones. As for taking goals into smaller steps, that applies for almost everything. For instance, I started a 100 day challenge by playing the guitar every single day for 10 minutes. The end in mind, a beginning/intermediate guitar player, is the goal. You can't just expect to be a great guitar player right from the start, that would only disappoint even more. 

So although today isn't really over, I do know what's yet to come. I worked this morning at my local shop, was fun and all. This afternoon I will be doing mainly homework. This evening I will be going back to work shortly. After I come home I take a shower, maybe read a bit and go to sleep before at least 12 pm!

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Hi Thomas.

It's funny you post this, as I just created a subject about sleeping habits. And you are right, except for people working night shifts, I think going to sleep early and waking up early is really important. Not only can you be more productive at work starting before everyone, but also for personal development in our hobbies etc ...

I'm doing in the other way around, I'm listening to the Slight Edge and will read Power of Habits when I'm done with it. What I like about the Slight Edge is that it's not only motivational theory. In a particular chapter the author asks something of the reader/listener, it's kind of interactive and while I didn't do it last night in bed while listening to that chapter, I did it right now listening to it again. I'll certainly write a small post about it as it can be useful for all of us, and if I could only recommend one chapter out of it, it would be this one (Chapter 10).

Why not take your shower, go to bed, read, and fall asleep? It could be a good way to introduce a new sleeping habit and who knows how many good things could come out of that simple step! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't have much to add for the last few days other than I'm super busy at school. Though I did relapse a bit at some point but deleted the games. I still have issues with resisting playing games with friends, but it's the only way I keep contact with them, it's sad really. 
I picked up my guitar again after a break of 20 days and played it for 9 consecutive days in a row now. So far so good! I'd love to make more progress though, but I have to accept it takes time so I just keep on practicing daily and keep this habit.
As for reading, I've finished chapter 3 now and I realise most of my distractions come from signals. I know that when I turn on my game computer I will most likely be distracted during studying than when I turn on my school computer. I still turn on my game computer unconciously, it's crazy. Like it's ingrained into my brain to turn on the pc even if I have nothing to do. 
My knee injury is almost healed, I can run again! I talked to my coach and we're going to start weekly training in the forest on sunday mornings again. This is great news, because I used to have the habit to train at least 3 times, mostly 4 times in a week. We're bringing this back now and I'm more than pumped up to start training again. More time for sports = less time for gaming.

As for the next few months I will be busy working on my internship. Days will consist of waking up early, then going to work and coming home at the evening. The time I have left will most likely be spent on practicing guitar, school, running and reading books. So there I have my pattern!

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  • 4 weeks later...

First post since a long time. Please understand it takes immense effort to write a good post as English is not my first language and I consider my words carefully. This may explain my inability to submit my 'daily' journals. Anyway, here goes.

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for an answer Cam, to address to your point: keeping up with my friends other than gaming is quite difficult. They aren't local friends, so that takes away daily communication if I wouldn't game. Second, there isn't really anything different we do other than gaming to keep up contact. We once went to a theme park and went bowling, but that's it. So cutting away gaming would kind of fade the friendship over time. It´s sad really, cause I don´t have many friends other than my sport club friends and some other people. They are really my friends you know. I don't want to be alone either, so it's a tough decision to make.

I still game every now and then, when I have nothing to do. I did quit WoW, but LoL and other games replaced that. I'm afraid to go all in again, what if it won't work out? I would lose everything I've worked up for. Maybe I can sell my accounts, I don't know. But I would get bored as hell and feel depressed, especially on lonely saturdays.
I do however have less time to fill for games, that's a good thing. It's been reduced significantly since I have my internship. Yesterday I went to a workshop among elite students just for the sake of it. It was an interesting experience and I'm glad I went out of the box to try new things. I also keep up with running, 3 times a week for now. Only guitar isn't much of a priority at the moment, but I will continue to play. Either way I still have my gaming issue and I just can't find any reason to delete my games at the moment. Do people really notice difference in their lives taking away gaming? Because I did not when I first quit, wasting my time on the internet anyway and even feeling horrible on saturdays. It's tough, sigh..

Edit: did not game since yesterday, am considering cutting off gaming friends and everything alltogether

Edited by Phoenix
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Hey Thomas, welcome back!

I just can't find any reason to delete my games at the moment. Do people really notice difference in their lives taking away gaming? Because I did not when I first quit, wasting my time on the internet anyway and even feeling horrible on saturdays. It's tough, sigh..

Yes, a huge difference to the better. It can be tough at first until you realize you have effectively filled your time with better things. I see this as a constant among ex-gamers here. The more you are deliberate in choosing what to do instead of gaming, the easier it will be.

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Hey Thomas, great to hear from you.

Think of it like this. There are millions of people in the world right now who manage to stay in touch with their friends WITHOUT gaming. So how do they do it? They chat on Facebook, Skype, they call each other, use WhatsApp, etc. I stay in touch with many people who do not live in the same place as me using those tools. 

Friendship goes far beyond just a similar activity or things you have in common. Friendship is about shared values. Right now your friendship has been based on gaming, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. You aren't stuck as "gamer friends". You are friends. Friendship is about finding a way to stay in touch if that's a priority for you regardless of circumstance. It's not a matter of "I can either stay friends and still game" or "I can have no friends." 

That is a very limited way to think about yourself and the life you want to have. Do you want to live from a place of only those two options? NO WAY. You want to be friends with people who regardless of where you live, or what hobbies you have at the time, you stay friends because you care about each other. 

The best way to answer the question of "do people really see changes after 90 days" is to experience it yourself. IF you can't go 90 days without gaming you should NOT be gaming. That's fairly simple. If at the end of 90 days you notice no improvements, you're always welcome to go back and game. Again, you're allowed to create the life you want. I would encourage you to expand your perspective. For examples of those who completed 90 days and how it impacted their life, read this thread.

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