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Suritus

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About Suritus

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  1. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Hey guys!
    Long time no see. I've talked to Cam last week and he encouraged me to try and post again, so here I am. Hopefully my experience will help you in some way. Here it is:
    My Big Summer Relapse and how I crawled my way out of it.
     
    The end of exams was a critical time last year. I worked for my grades, and I ached for some time off, for a reward. I had no real plans for summer – A big mistake – only general directions, and I found myself with a lot of spare time. Also, Overwatch just came out. So I started playing, and had a blast for a couple weeks. Everyone was new, I had time and no obligations, things couldn't be better. I went to the gym, read a little, hanged out with my friends and played Overwatch for a couple hours every day throughout June. I didn't see a problem with it, since I was telling myself I got nothing better to do and I deserved it. I slipped into a routine where I went to bed late – 4 in the morning, after grinding a couple levels each day. I was making another mistake which was not structuring my time. I also stopped meditating, since the first thing I did after waking up was turning on the computer – mistake number 3

    At the beginning of July I went back home to Slovakia and this is where shit hit the fan. Since I was living with my mom, I didn't have to shop for myself, didn't have to do the dishes as often or wash my clothes. The environment was not constructive to growth, and I'm not saying that as an excuse but as an observation, since the environment is a huge variable when it comes to success or relapse. So, with a much relaxed state of affairs and no library where I could go to learn, I started playing a LOT. It was warm outside so I hung out with my friends and then went home and played, as it gave me a sense of progress, which replaced the progress I got from the gym and my studies.
     
    Needless to say, I felt like a child. I felt powerless and demotivated from the lack of exciting things to do in the summer, but I didn't really allow myself to feel those emotions. Instead, I escaped from them by, you guessed it, playing video games. The worst thing was, it wasn't even very rewarding anymore. I was in a negative spiral where playing games sapped my motivation to do anything else, and since I didn't do anything else, I played games, which sapped even more and round the circle we go. This is a scary and frustrating situation to be in, and I'm sure a lot of you can relate. I felt stuck and powerless in the cycle.
     
    Thankfully, I had a couple of things going for me. One thing was my love for cycling, which I do every summer, since it's the only time I can really go for long bike rides. Every time I went on a bike ride I felt great and alive, and it helped to wean my brain off the dopamine rewards a little bit. Slovakia has a lot of cool places accessible by bike, and thankfully I also had friends to go with me, so we could go on longer trips.
     
    Another thing I had going for me was a former classmate I was attracted to. She was very responsive to my advances and we quickly went out for a couple of dates. This forced me to step up my game and take care of myself. Also, being out on a date means not being in front of a screen. If could go back in time, I'd ask her out sooner, but it's easy to say that in hindsight haha.
     
    As August came, I grew progressively more fed up with my relapse and really started my crawl back. On August 1st I decided to start a programming project, so that I had SOMETHING to look back to at the end of the summer, as well as something to work towards. This project, my friends, my bike and this girl were what ultimately helped me break the spell of games, because I was biking in the morning, coding around midday and out with someone in the afternoon. The project was a great idea, because I was learning, I had goals to work towards, and I was rewarded in increased mastery and working code.
     
    That's how August came to pass. At the end of it, I was ready to quit again, determined to make this year the best I've ever had. So I left for uni once again, met a lot of new people, uninstalled games and started meditating and reading again. As things are right now, I'm not 100% game-free, but I'm learning daily, and I feel much more capable than I did a month ago. I also don't have as much free time to play, which definitely helps.
     
    (TL;DR) If I had to choose a few things to highlight, I'd say it's really important to be in the right environment. This can be hard to change, but I think it's something to be aware of and work towards improvement.
    Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of structuring your time. When you have nothing better to do, it's easy to start playing, and it can be a downward spiral which can feel impossible to break.
    One last thing is that it's easier to prevent than to cure. It's easy to fight your urges to play when you're on a bike 2 hours from your computer. It's also easy to not think about games when you're out with someone that you like and that likes you.
     
    Those three factors – different environment, structuring my time and having a blast with people I like – helped me stop the relapse. Hopefully this post helps you to appreciate them and perhaps make some changes in your life. Good luck, and thanks for reading  
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  2. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    8.6
    I'm alive :D hope to be more active on the forum these days.
    One of the reasons I didn't post much was because I was moving to a new flat. We didn't have internet until yesterday, so I had to go to the library whenever I needed something and GQ slipped off my mind. That's fixed now, so I'll try to remember more.
    Another reason I didn't post was because I started to play games again. There was a number of reasons for this, unstructured time, peer pressure, some new games coming out and so on. I didn't feel full of guilt and shame after playing, as compared to the past, when I'd be really full of shame after a session, which I think is positive. On the other hand, it is too easy to use games as a fall back activity, when I'd rather do other things. These days, games leave me feel unfulfilled at the end of the day, with tasks left undone. I slipped into a 'tomorrow trap' - saying: "I'll start tomorrow, let me finish this match, game, etc."
    I think I'm better than this, so I'm taking time off again, to get a better perspective. Between this and end of May, I've realized willpower erosion is a serious problem, and probably one of the biggest harms of games. My sleep schedule is rather off, my mind is foggy and I'm having hard time focusing on reading, which is something not worth sacrificing in favor of games.
    But I don't want to make this post full of being sorry for myself, so I'll throw in a couple of things I learned in the past weeks too. Games brought me a lot of fun in those days, but that was mostly when I played with friends. Friends make everything better, and I think that there's something positive about playing with friends, in a reasonable manner. The hard thing is keeping it in the reasonable manner, as I think we all know . 
    I've also learned that even though old habits are hard to break and can resurface, so can the good ones. It wasn't difficult to start meditating and journaling after I stopped, but my streak isn't very long yet, so I might be talking too early. 
    I also learned that the feeling of satisfaction and happiness is directly proportional to the amount of effort one puts in. It's really like a bank - the more hard effort you put in, the better the payoff in the end. It's easy to forget this, especially when the payoff is merely a prevention of something bad (like staying in shape by eating healthy), or takes years to finish (such as completing an undergrad), but for short to mid-term goals, it's good to keep in mind that the effort pays off.
    Finally, I experienced hedonistic adaptation and the decrease of joy I was getting from games over time. The first days were great, the next few, not so much. This can transfer into other areas, so if you don't find joy in something you've been doing for a while, try taking a break to reset your brain and derive more satisfaction from it in the long term. I used this with going to the gym, but I think this applies to most hobbies out there.
    That's me for now. I hope you guys are doing well, perhaps finishing the school year for the younger of us, or just excited for summer in general (It's been REALLY nice out here for at least three weeks, strange :D) As always, thanks for reading! 
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  3. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    23.5
    Another long pause, I know  math kept me busy
    so exams are over which means a lot of free time. I have a couple of things I want to accomplish during the summer, such as read books for next year's courses, do some online courses, move to a new flat, and perhaps find a job. I'm moving in a few weeks and really looking forward to it, since I'll be moving in with friends who are on the same wave as I am. I haven't actually seen the flat yet, but I heard good news about it, so I'm looking forward to be there. Also, I appreciate the change in location, since it gives me a new perspective.
    I feel a little lost right now, since the days are so long I'm not yet sure how to spend my time, since personally I can only spend time in the gym, reading and programming for so many hours in a day. i'll have to brainstorm a bit.
    What I've learned: I should've probably studied more for the math exam. There were some things I didn't expect to see and I don't think my performance was as good as I'd liked it to be  
    Thanks for reading  
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  4. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Thanks Cam! Looking forward to your Europe meetup!
    6.5 
    Another check in. I had an exam yesterday and it went well. There was a section nobody enjoyed, so after the exam we shared a round of semi-serious bad mouthing  At least it's done for the year. There was a girl who fainted in the exam hall, which I wasn't there to see, but I heard she's fine. Exams are serious business. 
    We found a REALLY nice flat, and promptly applied, but the agency rejected us  It's back to the agency websites, and time's slowly ticking, which isn't very helpful. At least we get some exercise walking around the city  
    Other than that, not much news. I'm studying for my last exam, which is the hardest (Maths). I have two weeks, so it's fine
    What I've learned: A lot of activities are rabbit holes - the more you do them, the more you want to do them. The obvious one is video games, but I found out it also works with programming, exercise, reading, learning about a topic and so on. This is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how one looks at it. Or maybe it's just my reptilian brain and habit loops
    Thanks for reading  
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  5. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    1.5
    It's the end of the week so I figured might as well post an update
    Not much has happened, it's revision period after all. I had an exam on Friday, and it was better than I thought, so hopefully the person grading it will think along the same lines  I'm studying for the next one, which is this Thursday. 
    In my spare time, I'm looking for flats, reading and going to the gym. It's not very exciting, but that's because everyone is studying, and there isn't much going on in the university. Me and a couple of friends are organizing a dinner on Tuesday, which should be fun.
    What I've learned: I rediscovered podcasts, especially hello internet, which I've been listening to lately. Other than that, a lot of stuff for my exams, but not much of that is relevant here  
    Thanks for reading!
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  6. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    26.4 
    I had my first exam today. It was the easiest one, so it wasn't much of an issue, but I have another one on Friday, which is gonna be harder   I have to say I don't feel very comfortable with it, but I'll study until then, and we'll see how it goes. In other news, I'm trying to help a friend back home who's dealing with some family issues, which can be quite tricky. Also, looking for flats is in full swing. We had a viewing on Monday, but didn't really like it. We have more for this and next week though, so hopefully something really good will pop up. 
    What I've learned: Master the morning. It makes everything so much easier. 
    Thanks for reading
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  7. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Haha, thanks Cam! Yeah, I just got out of the loop while I was there and it took me a while to get back. Also, exams panic. I'll try to be more diligent! 
    22.4
    It's been a while, but I'm still alive. My trip to Netherlands was great, although a little lazy, since I didn't do much of anything, although I used their library for reading and some programming, so it wasn't all wasted. Also, through being with my friends and meeting new people, I learned a lot about friendships, confidence and I dare to say, a few things about life  It's going to take a lot of work, but I know where to go. 
    Right now I spend my days in the library again, looking for flats, looking for work and obviously studying. it's been really warm in the past few days, so everyone is studying outside, which makes me happy. I can't wait for the summer, although it's going to be too warm back in Slovakia  Last year's July was painful  
    I've a couple of habits that I'm working on right now, mostly getting back into my morning rituals, which I've put on hold for a moment, and also pushing myself through discomfort and unpleasant tasks. It's slow going, but I feel like I'm on the right path. I need to perform well if I want to go to Amsterdam for my third year, and hang out with my old friends more often
    What I've learned: Being comfortable with who you are is magical. Not being complacent, but knowing your worth. I've seen this in a friend of mine, who has really changed in the past few years, and it's inspirational. Be okay with who you are, and consistently try to do your best.
    Thanks for reading  Cam, thanks for the check-up. I follow you on Snapchat and some of the stuff you put out is also great inspiration! keep it up
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  8. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    9.4 
    Yeah I know. It's been a while since I posted. To be fair, there wasn't much to talk about. I've been studying, watching movies, going to the gym, etc. I've also been feeling on the low side for the past few days and didn't have much motivation, but that's mostly over.
    I've been hiking today with my friends, which was great! There are so many places that are close by and I'm glad I have people to visit those places with
    I've also started reading the biography of Ben Franklin, which is super inspiring 600 pages to go, but they go fast!
    On Monday I'm flying to Amsterdam to meet my friends. I'm really excited about it, though I feel like I have a lot of studying to catch up with after I get back. Library to the rescue!
    Anyway, I think that's about it. Cam, really excited about the event! Hopefully I'll be able to make it, because of plane tickets and stuff. I'm hoping for June, since then I'm on the continent and can take a train! 
    What I've learned: Work is entertainment. I feel better after a good day in the library.  Also, the key is getting to the library
    Thanks for reading  
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  9. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Woo! Will do, once I formulate a cohesive large-scale post
    I'm going to stop using and start using dates as a way to mark my posts. It's easier to track  
    The past few days were really good, mostly because I spent very little time on the computer. I was out in St. Andrews for a conference on Effective Altruism, a cause I really support. We had a great time, especially since it was sunny, something not seen often in the UK. The conference got me thinking about the future a lot, and it was extremely mentally stimulating. I also bought a few books, which I should stop doing, because my back log is growing Better books than games though. I remember when I had at least 10 games planned on my backlog, and how I wanted to complete them all. It seems silly in retrospect, or rather pointless. I'm glad I didn't finish that backlog.
    I'm going to dig into my notes from Respawn again, maybe even rewatch some of the modules/videos, because I feel like I need it. I haven't relapsed recently, but I have more time than I'm used to, and it's easy to go on Youtube and watch game videos, especially late at night when I should be going to bed. I'm starting to get the summer syndrome and it's not even April yet. 
    What I've learned: This is something I read a while back and was in the context of losing weight, but I think it applies here as well. One reason people fail on their diets is that once they slip up a little, they say 'screw it' and just go ballistic. I feel like I fell into the same trap with games as well in the recent past and it's a fallacy that can be overcome.
    Thanks for reading  
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  10. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Days 90 and 91
    I've been to the events, and have mixed feelings. It involved mostly drinking, which I'm not a huge fan of. Nevertheless, I met some new people, so there's a silver lining to that. 
    I'm a little bit lost at the moment, since university ended and the exams are still far. I'm going to go to the library and do at least a little bit every day though, so that once the exams get closer I'm not hit like a truck. There is a lot of stuff to get through, so I have to pace myself.
    It's been a quite uneventful week apart from the events I've mentioned. On monday, I'm going to a philosophy conference, so I'm looking forward to that. Hopefully it will be worth talking about in detail
    What I've learned: Be aware of the opportunity costs of everything you do. Treat your time well
    Thanks for reading
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  11. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    That's true. It's also easy to forget  
    Thanks for the kind words  
    Days 87 88 89
    The number is slowly getting bigger! It doesn't mean much, but it's a useful reminder that time goes forward, whether we want it to or not. 
    I'm going to try and post updates more often, since I discovered a correlation between missing my journal entries and propensity to relapse
    I've been to a party on Sunday. It started at 8, I've arrived at 8:30 and was the first one there  I've talked to some interesting people and realized I need to go out more  There was a lot of people from Slovakia and we listened to Slovak music, much to everyone else's annoyance.
    This is also the last week of university which means finishing assignments and studying for the exams. I'm going to miss my maths class, but then I'm going to see a lot of them next year as well.
    I have an event today and tomorrow, which I'm both super excited about It's not been a very good week last week, but that has passed now
    What I've learned: Be a better friend. It'll improve lives of everyone around you.
    Thanks for reading
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  12. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Days 84 85 86
    I'll admit these days were not so good. I have underestimated what a small lapse can do and this led to a few more similar ones. It all felt really bizarre, as I wasn't enjoying myself at all, but I suppose my brain didn't notice. I'm happy about not enjoying myself, but also confused, because I still can't trust my brain when it comes to this. At least I know what caused this - negative momentum, being around people who played games, lack of meditation, bad sleep. I'll be on the look out next time these factors come together.  
    I've been on a St. Patrick's day party on Thursday, and it was great! I'm gonna miss my friends over the summer. This is actually the summer I'm looking forward to the least. I'm looking it as a big test, because I'll be self-responsible most of the time, as I'll be away from my parents, without a girlfriend who'd influence my decisions and with friends still in school. It's not going to be easy  
    Next week our spring break starts. I'm excited about that, because I'll be travelling a bit, which I love. After that is studying time. My first exam is on Monday 5 weeks from now, so plenty of time  
    What I've learned: Sleep is important. Even one-two hours off is noticeable and influences your decisions. Behave accordingly.
    Thanks for reading  
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  13. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Haha, true  I was half-joking when I posted that, but you're right  
    Days 81 82 83
    Another longer streak of inactivity, but I like these pauses, because I can accumulate points to talk about. 
    I've been through a mini-relapse yesterday. I call it a mini-relapse, since it took in total 2 hours. I've reminded myself how connected all negative habits truly are, since what led to it was a lack of meditation, a lapse of my diet (chocolate cake is good, but not in the long term :P) and procrastination in general. I'm obviously not happy about relapsing, but every time it happens, I feel it's more and more hollow and less of an overwhelming experience, so I'm glad for progress on this front. Also, it's becoming more and more of an exception than a reality, and tracking helps with evaluating this. All and all, I feel good, although I have to remember just how slippery the slope of climbing from addiction is, and how easy it is to slide back. This is especially important once the summer starts, and external obligations will have less of an influence. This is something I've historically was not good at, but for this summer I have a plan which I'll work on externalizing and posting around the flat, so that it's easier to follow  
    I've finished spartan up, and I didn't consider it that good of a book to be honest. Part of it was because I felt like the author was preaching to the choir, part of it was just a lack of organization. If you're like me and read too many books, it helps to screen your books a little, so that you're not reading the same thing over and over again  
    My lectures are mostly over, so I'm starting to spend time revising for the exams. This is also harder because I have to be more disciplined from within, as there is less and less time when I'm penalized for not doing something. I have a schedule though, so I'll be fine
    What I've learned? Screen your books more. Also, the part about the slippery slope. It's all very connected.
    Thanks for reading  
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  14. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Days 79 and 80
    These days weren't as good as before. I was mostly in the library, doing homework, programming and reading. It's been harder to stay disciplined for some reason, and I'm not too happy about that. This is going to be my focus for the next week, because I don't feel good about wasting time. I'm reading a book on discipline, called Spartan up, and while a half of it is a sell for the author's Spartan races, there are some takeaways to remember as well.
    In other news, I've talked to my mom and she said she'd like to come to visit me after university ends, so I'm looking forward to that! I'll show her all my favorite spots in the city, which at the moment are the library and gym  
    It's been warmer here the past few days, which is awesome! Spring break is also fast approaching, which I'm also looking forward to. There are flowers everywhere, birds are singing, perfect time to be outside. If only university wasn't in the way  
    What I've learned: If you anticipate something, act on that belief. If you know that you're not going to be productive at home, account for that. We all have our mental biases which can sometimes lead us to expect everything, while reality might not be so bright. In some cases, it is better to be realistic to avoid inflated expectations and feelings of unworthiness. At the same time, push yourself a little bit each day. It's the only way you win the battle against yourself.
    Thanks for reading  
     
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  15. Suritus added a post in a topic Matt's Journal   

    Days 76 77 78
    I'm getting bad at updating this journal  but to be honest, I have other daily practices that I follow, so I'm not sure how important the journaling is compared to those. However, I have been experiencing cravings and thoughts about games recently, and less journaling might be a reason for that. 
    I've been out quite a few times this week. I'm feeling really good about that, but I also look forward for the weekend when I'll be able to do my own work. One challenge I have right now is being alone with myself late at night, because that is the time when I slide into my old habits the easiest. I've brainstormed a few ways how to deal with those, and the most important thing is not turning on the computer  
    I'm going to focus on my studying in the next two weeks, since it's the last two weeks of the semester, and then we have a month long break. I'm going to visit a few friends/places, so I'm looking forward to it  
    Other than that, there's not much else to say. I've been practicing going first in interactions, opening up and talking to people, but it goes against years of my habits, so it isn't easy. However, I feel good about where I am right now, it's just a matter of slowly going forward.  
    That would be all today  
    What I've learned: from Tim Ferriss' podcast: when you want to improve something, play the 'why' game. For a behavior, ask why until you get to the root of it and work on that. Everything else will follow.
    Thanks for reading  
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