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Everything posted by Pierce

  1. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    The new more effective way is my notepad. Problem is, it's very easy to not use it or to not follow the time and website allotments I write on it. Seems like I contradicted my first statement. Except, I don't believe it has to be that way. The notepad provides structure, and discipline can flow forth from there. I feel that I have a better picture of what I need to do. I just need to do it.
    Day 337 without gaming, 0 days without compulsive internet use
    Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
    "Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing." -Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5
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  2. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 335 without gaming, 0 days without compulsive internet use
    I fell flat on my face today. Was not disciplined in my computer use.
    I know that the rewards of overcoming this obstacle are beyond what I could have imagined in the past. I feel confident that discipline here will prove to be the skeleton key to unlocking all of the other major areas of my life. Once more, with passion.
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  3. Pierce added a post in a topic Bob's Journey   

    As someone who has chosen ballroom and latin dance as one of my replacements for gaming, I'll tell you this: have the courage to dance and be carefree now! The euphoria that comes from that can't be compared to. The enjoyment I've had from thousands of hours I've spent gaming are probably equal to five nights of dancing.
    Find your equivalent thereof. Cam was right in that the best replacements for gaming are: challenging, have measurable growth, allow for an escape from worry, and are social. The fact that you are working out is awesome and fits all of those criteria. Your study of history fits most of those, and by making a public podcast it will fit the social aspect as well.  As you improve yourself and find more of those activities the joy and confidence you seek will come.
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  4. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 334 without gaming
    Obstetrics lab was strange, but great. Screaming mannequin bodies giving birth slimy, plastic babies. I feel much more prepared for delivery-related situations now.
    Yesterday I had another clinical at a local emergency room, realized how much more my EKG pad placement skills have to go, but overall had a good time. I got enough school work done that day that I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time: invited all of my friends to go out dancing. A lot of them couldn't come, but I had a few ballroom friends come and, surprisingly, a good number of people from my class accepted my invitation. It was a great night, and was a much needed confidence booster. The unassertive and very reserved self was replaced by an exuberant and extremely self-confident force. The lessons I learned there are the ones I need to carry with me off of the dance floor.
    Now, onto business. I know that to meet the goals I have set for myself in life I need to go further from quitting gaming. A strange thought since I am currently fighting desperately to keep myself from going back to gaming next month, but I think this is precisely the right time to launch an offensive. I have a pad of paper at the spot where I usually keep my laptop. Before each time I turn it on, starting tomorrow, I want to log these criteria: my goal for getting on, how much time I want to spend, and what websites I'll visit. Afterwards, I want to log what I actually did and how much time I spent. Other than a few sites I visit in the morning and at night that are useful and productive, I shouldn't get on too often unless it is directly school related. I can already tell that this is going to be extremely painful, but if I pull it off it will grant me something I've wanted with all of heart for quite a few years now. Freedom.
    So there you have it. I've put it out to the public, so that is tangible evidence that I hope will hold me accountable. This is the start of a year long journey in which I wish to break my compulsive internet use, in hopes of melting the very existence of my will to game. As my dopamine receptors begin to normalize again, I have no doubt that I will have gained a much greater mastery of my cravings. I'll tell you how it goes tomorrow.
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  5. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    It's fortuitous you brought that up. I spent part of this morning using an online character creater, planning out my build, and then this afternoon I was planning out a mod setup. Watching the videos of all the work it took, I realized that working out, reading books, and doing my school work is far easier and more satisfying. It made me realize that I really wouldn't be happy if I went back, not even for a week. Even watching these gameplay related videos isn't entertaining, it just allows me to procrastinate. Thank you. What you say confirms what I thought, and for that I am grateful.
    The positive change I want to see is to live out the adventure I seek in video games. To better myself instead of some pixelated character. My latin teacher in high school once challenged me with that. He said that if we take all of the time we spent gaming and spent it instead on useful skills, we could become much more powerful and live a much more fulfilling life than our virtual counterpart
    Day 331 without gaming
    I want to focus on the positive in this post. Today in class we learned how to help manage emergencies involve pregnancies. It's pretty incredible how much more confident I feel about if I were ever put in a situation like that, and after the obstetrics skills lab tomorrow I'll be even more confident. That's another difference, confidence in other areas. For example, I've only been driving for a few months and I feel so much more proficient. I've driven in some pretty hostile conditions: torrential rainfall, night, highway where people were driving like maniacs trying to get home, etc. I also feel more confident in social interactions. I'm not the shy nerd I was four years ago. Lastly, I've been slothful in my gym routine because of how hectic school feels right now, but I'm extremely excited to get back into it as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to increasing the amount of weight I can lift, the amount of pushups I can do, and I want to get back into yoga. I've been thinking a lot about practical strength, and I want to start rock-climbing at some point in the future. I want to be more confident that I could manage my own body weight if I were hanging from a surface in a life or death situation.
    Anyway, let's see what adventures tomorrow brings.
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  6. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    It's funny how it works that way. When I gave away my Xbox 360 five years ago (I find it funny now how I thought that it would be that easy to walk away from gaming) the guy from school I gave it to told me he could see why I got rid of it: I had over 200 hours on one character file in Oblivion alone. So many hours of my life gone in vain pursuits of glory, while the real glory to be had was a distant thought.
    Day 330 without gaming, Day 0 without YouTube
    I'm not even that upset. Being on 0 day again is actually funny. I woke up and spent a lot of the morning thinking of a character build for Oblivion. I've watched gaming videos before, but more as a replacement for TV. This fascination in becoming an active player again doesn't sit well with me. My reptilian brain says that it will continue to punish me dearly if I don't buy Oblivion and start playing it again once I reach day 365. There's only two problems: I don't go a year without gaming just to fall back into again, and I don't give a damn about what my reptilian brain says. Maybe I will fall. It won't be this day.  I'm not going to consciously say that I'm going to lay down for my urges a month from now either.
    After I wasted time in the morning I began to get around for class, and I checked my phone. The study group I had set up had tried texting me and even called me, and I missed it entirely because I forgot. I was furious and deeply disappointed in myself. I'm not a superstitious person, but that's as close to a sign of what my future entails if I continue down this path.
    It's a cry for adventure. The skill sheet I made for myself yesterday proved that I can indeed improve myself, but I still lack adventures to go on. The idea of becoming a mechanic fits that niche, but part of me believes its just a pipe dream, just as one day becoming a doctor will be. Becoming a firefighter will be incredible, but I'm a few years off. I need to create the adventure aspect within. I really do want to achieve those other goals and more, but gaining greater discipline and joy for life are essential. I think that using my imagination and further turning life into a roleplaying game will help.
    And one last thing: I think we regard ourselves to highly. What I mean by this is that we feel so entitled about many aspect of life that we think comfort and pleasure our a given. This is why abstaining from short-term gratification and taking part in slow, painful work seems so impossible for us at times. If we regard ourselves less and regard our missions more, we gain freedom. That's what I seek, giving all to the mission. When this happens the weak part of us has died.
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  7. Pierce added a post in a topic Bob's Journey   

    Please post your history podcast once completed! I would thoroughly enjoy hearing what you have to say. The last time I studied anything pertaining to the revolution was when I read an article on Baron von Steuben. That man's story is incredibly inspiring, especially the bit at Valley Forge.
    I know you've probably been inundated with fitness and diet advice by other people, but here's my take on the subject: walk everywhere (taking the stairs over the elevator and walking to public transport over taking the car), turn diet into a game on how to keep it as balanced as possible, and try forms of exercise in which you can achieve a sense of flow (I find lifting weights to be a very meditative experience, and check out running or swimming in high intensity intervals for the best cardiovascular results).
    I'm looking forward to seeing how much farther you've gotten in your goals sixty days from now Bob. You got this man!
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  8. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    I appreciate it @Mettermrck. I've weathered falling on my face many times, this one hasn't gotten me down. I know I have so much to be grateful for, and I am, but I sometimes live in fear that I will not use it to its full potential. There's so much to do out in the world! So much beauty and adventure. So many people to meet and so much to discover. I believe you sense it as well. It's why most people are here. The fact that such a belief stands before me and yet my actions do not match it scares me. Makes me think I will scramble for the shiny baubles when the real treasure lies concealed ahead. Pressing forward:
    Day 329 without gaming, Day 1 without YouTube
    I am lazy. I am. The truth it makes me stronger. It's not the video games, or society, or anyone else. It's me. The truth is that. And yet it does not have to be that way. When the disgust of laziness hit me this morning I sprang into action and got a lot of school work done. I began to seize the day.
    And then I looked back, and became a pillar of salt. It's been four years since I've played my all time favorite game series, the Elder Scrolls. I thought of the ecstasy of buying a gaming computer, all of the accouterments, getting the elder scrolls anthology (I dare not capitalize the words of something I revile so much at the same time), and 100% competing all five games one at a time. I could build such powerful characters. I would be a god in those worlds.
    And in this world I would wither. I can be powerful there and wither here, or the opposite. Only one may live. It's a death match. My former self versus my current. It wants my body to replace the grave it inhabits, and its arm is won't let go of my ankle. That is why I am in limbo. He must die if I am to move on.
    So I choose to no longer be lazy. I met my goal from last night by realizing this. That is the secret. Be absolutely disgusted with anything remotely related to laziness. And negative motivation isn't enough, so I didn't stop there. I began on a document in which I made my life skills into a rudimentary character sheet. It will be a way to mark my progress and see how far this fleshly avatar advances. It's no where near completed, but it's something I want to give a serious effort into. It might be just what I need. I'll give you a further report on it tomorrow.
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  9. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Thanks @Mettermrck! It was a close shave: the instructor thought I hit the cones twice. We had one guy that completed the course so fast that the instructor anxiously reminded him multiple times that it wasn't a timed course. It's experiences like that, that show how great an adventure life can be. 
    Day 328 without gaming, Day 0 without YouTube
    I remember reading a book once that hammered home the point of personal integrity. If we are not honest with ourselves, how are we to have any self-confidence in decision making ability in the future? I broke my word when I went on youtube today, and only made it 5 days. I did learn this much: the root is not my addiction to electronics. Electronics are silly diversions to me. I would gladly smash my laptop and phone and go without them for the rest of my life if I didn't need them for school and other obligations. No, my true root addiction is to laziness. I retreat to electronics because it allows me to forget about the work I need to be doing. Better than drugs and alcohol, but it's still something I'm ashamed of. It means that I'm a slave to my own weakness. So how is tomorrow (it's past midnight, so I mean when I next wake up) going to be different? I hope to find a secret to beat my laziness. I guess I have to keep the goal in sight. For example, if I do well enough in managing my time next semester, I was thinking of applying to local jobs as an automobile tech while I go through paramedic phase. That's going to require time management now. And heck, when I get in the flow of school work I feel much better than even the highest dopamine rushes I get from my computer. I feel like I'm accomplishing something in the former, while I feel life ticking away in the latter. There's so much adventure out there. Got to keep that in sight and go against the grain of lethargy. Some of the greatest, and most difficult, advice I've ever received is this: do what is most emotionally difficult each moment, if you want to reap the greatest benefits from life. The hard way is the easy way, and the easy way is the hard way.
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  10. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    @Mettermrck Thanks! Yeah it's true. I definitely don't want to go back. That's the camaraderie that binds all of us here. I fought it for five years on my own, and Cam finally convinced me to join the community to get extra accountability. One of the best decisions I've made in my life.
    Day 327 without gaming, Day 5 without YouTube
    Today we were took the driving portion to be certified to drive ambulances. It wasn't an easy test. Many people had to restart the obstacles multiple times after hitting cones, and one girl left crying when her nerves got the better of her and she backed over a whole row of them. I was able to pass it all on my first try, not hitting a single cone, and what made it even more hilarious was that I had to ask the instructor how to take the the vehicle out of park. I know that finding satisfaction externally is a slippery slope, but it was a feeling that carried with me for the rest of the day when one of my class mates said to me, "You're my hero, pre-med. If I'm ever in an emergency, I hope you're driving to get me."  I guess I sound pretty damn conflicted between being full of myself or being self-flagellating, don't I? Well I am. Walk that tight-rope every day. Anyway.
    I also spoke to another class mate and found out he was a mechanical for a year or two. He told me it only takes six months to become certified. That's an incredibly useful life skill, one that I would definitely like to have in my repertoire, so I'm going to keep that in the back of my mind as I continue to plan my life.
    Laziness is still an issue. I beat the cravings by reading some science fiction, but still have a lot of work that needs to get done. Zeal for life is the way to bear laziness. Just need to put more energy into it. There are truly incredible things I could do if did the work that I have in my plans. It begs the question that if these ambitions are so great, why haven't I put in the effort? I hope that the near future will leave that question less open-ended.
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  11. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 326 without gaming, Day 4 without YouTube
    I had an 8 hour clinical shift at a local ER today. I learned a lot and it was enjoyable work. I felt like I could be productive there. Even though I was tired, it was good work. Getting home I received some much needed rest. After the rest followed lethargy. I didn't get any school work done or go to the gym. It's because it was calling to me. I wasted a lot of time on the internet, I'm not proud to say, but I wouldn't allow it to win. I can't. I walked closer to the edge today, so tomorrow I need to run a back and build a barricade. It feels like torture sometimes, though.
    No one ever said freedom was without a cost. As much as I would enjoy going back to youtube and watching gaming feeds, I'm tired of my brain being on an electronic IV. It suffers without it, as if it were a physical need. Yes, going back would be enjoyable, but I would be a slave again and I would hate myself.
    One of the most enlightening experiences comes from realizing the true definition of self love. Self preservation is in our genetics and is something we know well, but self love is quite foreign. We think we know what it is, but we don't. This can be seen in how we choose self destructive behavior even though we know it doesn't serve our true advancement. The crutch over mending the leg. True love of self pushes the power button off and drives you to the gym, even if both actions are painful. It's the action of legitimately having your own back, not just pretending to so that the pipeline of pleasurable chemicals continues to flow in the brain. Will I choose to have my own back? Will I become the person I need to be?
    I will.
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  12. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    @Mettermrck Thanks for the encouragement. If there's one piece of advice I could give, it would be to see gaming as one layer of the onion, not the onion itself. Peel that layer and you'll be one step closer to mastering yourself. Compulsive internet use (YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, etc.) is just as constraining as gaming. 
    Day 325 without gaming, Day 3 without YouTube
    I didn't post last night because I was making up for lost time. Last weekend I had a lot of school work to do and a five day weekend to do it. I managed to only get a fourth of it done due to internet use. It was that feeling of being at an extremely low point that made me realize I had to take action. When I got to class yesterday, much to the surprise of all of the class, our teacher wanted about half of the current number more to what was already expected are due today. It's something I thought might happen, and it's why I wanted to work ahead that weekend. I said screw it and kept on putting it off; that's why I was in the position I found myself in.
    So last night right as I was about to start I was hit by a strong urge to quit. Watch a movie, or at least watch a video on youtube. I started to drift, then stopped, and started to drift again. Then I remembered all of the time lost in the past. All of the dreams that may be left to die that I will have to face at my death, all because of time wasted. I thought of admitting that I had failed again. I couldn't bear it. I started, and after every set of two sheets I completed I would do a set of push ups. I wish I could end this story by saying I got it all done, but that wouldn't be the truth. I did put my heart in my soul into my work, though, not half-assing it, and I got an incredible amount done. On top of that, I got a good workout in. I had the fire in my belly back. I felt a part of myself being reclaimed.
    So the goal of all of this is to become free, and freedom means putting long-term dreams over short-term pleasures. I can envision the person I want to be, and the incredible steps it will take to get there, and I gladly sacrifice the lazy and pleasure seeking self within me to breathe life into that man. Piece by piece I will dismantle the old and optimize this "self" with the new. It is my hope that then, I might be of service to Virtue and this world.
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  13. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 323 without gaming, Day 1 without YouTube
    It's been a long time. I'm here because it's about a month and a half until I reach one year without gaming. I've still been watching game related videos on YouTube, and a lot of TV and movies as well, so for the remaining time I'm going to quit them as well.
    So what's happened in the last two and a half months? I'm taking a summer course to get my Emergency Medical Technician certification, and am finding it very easy when compared to the biology classes I was taking last Spring. It requires a lot of hard work, but the knowledge is all practical and a good portion of it is hands on. My aspiration is to work my way to paramedic and then sign on with a fire department who will put me through fire college for free, and let that be my trade for a few years. I haven't forgotten about my dreams of becoming a doctor, but I know that the lessons in discipline and living as an adult are to be gained here first, and I will need them to progress onward. Furthermore, this is my chance to gain the fitness level I always wanted. I've been lifting weights a lot, and am growing stronger. Also, I've continued playing pen and paper with two different groups of friends (DnD 5e with one group, though it's on hiatus right now, and a sci-fi Open Legend campaign with the other). Occasionally I go out dancing, but this is definitely a time of self-development and solitude.
    Speaking of that, there's a practical reason why I'm here. My class may be easy, but I want to excel at it and I'm spending so much time on the internet that I haven't been lately. Also, to get to the level of fitness I want I need to commit a lot more time. I work arms three times a week, but have been too lazy to do leg days in between. Also, I want to do small sets of pushups throughout each day (my goal is to one day make it to 100) and maintain a yoga practice and daily meditation. All of these things have fallen apart at the almighty throne of electronics. To make matters worse I was really hit hard with an urge to go back to gaming this weekend. This is one of maybe three times where youtube wasn't enough during this year, and I almost opened up my gaming laptop that has been growing dust in my closet since last August.
    Bottom line is I want to factory reset my brain. I've felt my it cry out for computer when I wanted to get work done, and I had to lay down on the floor and just be still to resist it. It drained me of my energy, and I was still so far from the quota of work I wanted to gone today. Quitting gaming isn't nearly enough to be free. Not nearly enough to make it to my goals. I can't stop fighting though... I won't.  I've quoted this in my journal before, but it's worth posting again. This quote is from To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus speaks to his daughter about Ms. Dubose, an old woman who wanted to quit her dependence on morphine before she died, 
    "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."
    Unlike her, this is a fight I can win before I die. In fact, I think a good portion of my life won't have truly begun until I've quit. It's like a part of me hasn't been born yet. But that's what a dynamic life is all about: death and rebirth. Becoming a new person who is uniquely equipped for the next stage. It's beautiful.
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  14. Pierce added a post in a topic Übermensch   

    It takes a lot of self-honesty and courage to come back and face your demons again, especially after you thought you had already driven them away. I commend you.
    I've discovered the same thing: it is the root that's the problem. It's why I'm still here (though not actively posting as much). It's why I've changed my whole life (course of study, which friends I spend the most time with, hobbies, etc.) to be focused in a manner that gives me the time and emotional resources to try and kick my addiction once and for all. The addiction is not video games. It's not the myriad of other things that I've had compulsive issues with in the past. It's myself. As you aptly put it, it's our escapism. Fear of being content on our own.
    We're wired for stimulation, and we've built the habit to give in to it when it cries out, even if we don't want to anymore. I was watching a Let's Play series on a certain game earlier today (youtube is still something I'm trying to manage, though I am seeing progress), and was able to stop when I needed to do other work. A few minutes later I felt it calling to me. I inwardly laughed. I laughed not because I thought I had complete control of it, far from it, but because I was conscious that there was something within in me that was trying to make me bend to its will. This much is certain to me: I don't want to go to my grave knowing that I was still under the control of anything's will. I will do whatever it takes to be a free man.
    You are fighting to free your mind. You are fighting to become your own man. I see success. The fact that you are so introspective of every time you fail, and are determined to improve, is indicative of this. 
    This visualization has helped me, and maybe it will do the same for you: As we run from ourselves we give power to The Many, our inner demons. When we face ourself we become more aligned with it, more aligned with the Truth and with Strength. The deeper we go within, the more we are willing to embrace the fire therein, the more we become free from the pull of the Many.
    You've got this Csaba.
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  15. Pierce added a post in a topic Destoroyah's Meltdown   

    You have goals and you're consciously thinking about them and posting about them here. Sounds like you're on the right track to me. Oftentimes we can only focus on energies on so many things, and it sounds like you're focusing on what is most important right now. 
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  16. Pierce added a post in a topic Übermensch   

    Congrats! I'm in the same boat in that there's still so much more I'd like to get done with discipline/time management. That said, with the knowledge that you quit video games for 90 days, and the habits you formed from doing so (some of them are more subtle, and will come into play as you work on fostering discipline), you have peeled yet another layer off of the onion of addiction. You're one step closer to having mastered yourself. There are few things worth more than that, in my opinion.
    Keep the video games and whatever you need to keep on going, but I'm glad you're still fighting the fight of the Übermensch. Going back to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey motif: grow stronger, and when the time comes you will be able to defeat the threshold guardians that bar the way. The key is keep on pushing forwards, cultivating greater skills, wisdom, and inner peace.
    Let me know if there's anything I can ever do for you, and I'm just one PM away if you ever want to talk.
    In your alliterative style: Stay Shwifty.
    Edit: Also I just did more research on the Wim Hof method, and I'm really excited to add it to my daily habits. Thanks for sharing that with me, and for all of the encouragement you've given me along the way!
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  17. Pierce added a post in a topic Destoroyah's Meltdown   

    @destoroyah I know what it's like to feel like an outsider. Felt that way all of my life, with only my parents as people that I feel are unconditionally there for me. Can't complain too much though, two people is enough to be grateful for the rest of my life. I've met many other people where I've had either deep, but limited connections (they were always busy) or shallow and long-term (hung out together, but we didn't fully understand each other and would eventually have a falling out). In many ways I could be happy with those interactions for the rest of my life. I'm fairly good at gaining them. Having a willingness to listen and a few common interests/activities makes it easy to form them. That intimacy and depth is still lacking though. And being like you, wanting more, I couldn't stop there.
    In that vein, Csaba is right that eastern philosophy would be one route that could help you here. Being more present and diminishing the sense of self and its desires would free you of loneliness. That might not fit with your life goals though. I can respect that. Ultimately, how we package philosophy is a bunch of extraneous bullshit. It's ultimately just a path to being at peace with yourself. When you live authentically and love yourself, the loneliness can't bite. You feel free to be joyful and love other people, and positive people begin to flock around you. The great thing is that whether they stay or leave, you aren't affected too much, because the inner peace/love is still there.
    So what I've said so far probably comes across as hippie nonsense. If so, that's fine. I'll now attempt to explain why its not. I can completely relate to what you said yesterday in reference to the person you show on the outside being very different from the one within. This gap between the two is why we feel misunderstood and alone. We shield our authentic self because of the pain we received when we revealed it in the past, but at the same time we wish that people could see past our shield and accept us for who we are. As I transition phases in my life I've been taking the time to come to terms with my past, heal from it, and unleash my inner child. The child that smiles at strangers, enjoys making stupid jokes with friends, and has a life goals and philosophical ideas that don't make too much sense to the people around him, and yet he doesn't care because they are important to HIM and that is enough.
    If anything from that last paragraph resonated, I highly recommend reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. I'm reading through it now and I've found some ground breaking insights within. Fair warning: 10% of it delves into new age stuff I don't really agree with, but the other 90% is so outstanding and ties right into neuroscience that gladly overlook that. It's all about reprogramming the brain to release the emotional trauma from the past and then replace it in whatever form you wish.
    Anyway, I hope some of that was useful for your situation. Otherwise, I apologize for rambling. Hey, and it sounds like you don't have a lot of people to talk to. Having people there for me in that way has been invaluable. If you ever want to, feel free to send me a private message and we can set up talking on Skype sometime.
    I hope you get back to being your usual demon slaying self soon, my friend; stronger than ever.
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  18. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    The sprinkles were the answer all along... I like it.
    Day 243
    It's been a week and I've gained a lot of insights since. To reference Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey,  this year has had two very large threshold guardians. The first was my aspiration of making it into medical school, and it took me a long time, but I'm glad that I've realized that I must walk away and become stronger before being able to defeat it. Have to build up those muscle to be able to heft the giant great-sword I picked out from the arsenal in the beginning. The other guardian barred the way to joy and authenticity. It took me to reaching the point of going down the pit of depression, and then realizing how much I have to be grateful for. All of the wonderful people in my life, the incredible opportunities I've been given, and the Hero's Journey to a better world that I have committed to. I found a piece of myself in that. Or rather, a part of my mask fell away. The Truth has shone brighter since.
    I've been making old and proven friends a priority, not only hanging out with them more over lunch, but also making plans to hang out with them outside of school going on adventures as much as possible (climbed through a mile of drainage pipes with two friends last week just for the fun of it, and am planning a camping trip with another friend in the near future). I've been more focused in my goals: reading more, enjoying lifting weights, doing a lot of emotional self-inquiry, and even picking up yoga along the way. I've continued to be child-like, not caring what others think, and being in awe at the simplest things.
    I often forget how unbelievably incredible this journey life is, but I've been making it a habit to think of it more and more, and I am just beyond words in how grateful I am to be alive and among all of the people of this world. Fighting to get to the other side of the cave was worth it, and I do not plan on resting at this peak. I gladly accept the next valley, full of pain and trial, because those are my friends and teachers. With them you are most alive. It is among them that you have the passion and strength of a warrior, and the peace and love of a monk. When they send you on your way the grail you walk out with is not shiny and jewel-studded; no, it is adorned with the humility of wisdom, for the true grail is within. It's the fire.
    Here's a badass song for you to listen to, and I hope it awakens the fire within you too:
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  19. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    @Csaba_Bekesi Thanks my friend. You're right, I do need to redefine my metric. Tentatively, I'd like to define it as the ability to enjoy the present moment, no matter what that moment involves. I say this over and over here, because it is easy to believe in the abstract sense, but difficult to apply in the real world. Thus the tentativeness.
    The garden within. I like that. Tending to the garden within (the mind) and the garden without (how we perceive the external world) will likely involve having a more positive outlook for both. The weeds are negative thoughts and perceptions.
    Day 236
    The more I have a positive outlook and surround myself with positive people, the more I succeed in being happy. Depression comes from being stuck in a negative loop. Joy comes from being stuck in a positive loop. Joy is the tool to fight addiction and to achieve goals. Joy makes the world a more uplifted place.
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  20. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 235
    Today I was tempted to go back to gaming. This rarely happens, because I have so many other vices that I could go to since I know how unfulfilling gaming is and have broken through the "withdrawal phase", and yet today it was calling my name. It was calling for the same reason I started gaming and the same reason I continued: disconnection from others. It's strange, but even though I have tremendously better social skills, have plenty of friends/social ties to other groups, know of lots of events around town, have a means of transportation, and have some funds for said events, I still feel disconnected on my end. Alone.
    I didn't go back to gaming, and won't. Don't want to ever. I'm trying to go the other way in my life; less virtual, more reality. Still, I have to address that feeling of isolation that will take me back down the path of depression if I don't deal with it (and that's assuming that the last wave has fully been recovered from).
    I see two paths (there are more, but these are the two most feasible): 1. Continue to search for relationships in which I "feel" connected (emphasis on feel, because I do have a few really loyal and interesting friends), and redouble my efforts. 2. Find a way to fulfill these needs within, most likely through some technique in which I can generate my own contentedness. Of course the answer is the second one, while still maintaining the first. Will that really work, though? It's been tried in the past.
    Heck, maybe the disconnectedness doesn't stem from others, but from myself. If I have some problem with myself I will most definitely feel as if I have a problem with everyone else. It's hard to pinpoint what that problem is. Likely has to do with how I wasn't able to reach the mark in my academic goals, and am now choosing a much more uncertain path that will likely put my previous plans back half a decade; that's if I stick with those plans by then. Also has to do with wondering whether there is something internally wrong with the turnover rate I have with friends. Then again I have a high turnover rate on ideas. Likely associated. Probably overthinking.
    "A friend once told me that if I stop over thinking I’d see the flowers."
    I spoke with an old friend today over frisbee. A simple pleasure I don't get to partake in often, both the frisbee and the speaking with him; he works during the day. We spoke philosophy, and I posed the question of what is joy (euthymia). He is much more left-brained and fine details oriented than I, so he gave a much needed perspective. One interesting thing that he pointed out is that contentedness and having goals are not mutually exclusive. One can achieve desirelessness and still try to reach higher heights. Put this crudely, it seems to be a paradox, but this is something we all understand intuitively. To be happy with the present and reaching forward to the future.
    Accepting the present life as it is, and enjoying it, and yet striving to be stronger. If I am to feel better I shall make my job to be appreciating every moment for its own intrinsic value.
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  21. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 233
    I woke up at 5am in the morning and was thinking about how I can beat the funk I was in last night. I then realized that the Stoics, Buddhists, and Taoists are right: desire is the root of suffering. I desire to be close to people so much. I become attached. I will not be happy until I am potentially willing to let those things go. In fact, I want to center my life around becoming stronger: intellectually, physically, and by learning new skills. Doing that is what will add to my joy of life, and help me progress towards my goals.
    Also, I must not forget that the present moment is beautiful. It is beautiful. I am complete. I want to smell the roses. Happiness does not come from the future, because we will never reach it there. Happiness comes from the here and now.
    I hold the door shut to my own cage. All I need to do is choose to walk out, and stay out. Then I can enjoy the sunshine and flowers outside (a friend once told me that if I stop over thinking I’d see the flowers).
    So, practically speaking, what do I do? I remember the attitude that I had earlier in the week: child-like wonder, enjoying each and every moment (whether in serene contemplation alone or in the warm company of others), and by growing stronger. Joy and strength, which is a bit redundant because I believe joy is one of the greatest forms of strength, as is kindness in the face of adversity. One new way I've been growing stronger is doing math on Khan Academy. I've shied away from math ever since middle school; didn't have much of an aptitude for it. I'm excited to slowly build myself back up to become proficient at it, wanting to tackle physics next. 
    May the times I take the beauty of the world (and the beauty of the people within it) for granted be few and far between.
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  22. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    @destoroyah I find that introverts benefit from the learning the skill set of extroverts, and vice versa. The listener does well to learn to be the initiator, and the talker can do much for themselves to learn to help others open up. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
    Day 232
    I have mixed feelings about this week. I've been gaining more balance in my life, and hitting many milestones, yet the void within is still there. I don't really have the energy to go through it all right now. There were high points, including getting to go out with friends three times this week. There were also low points. I'm still trying to find out how to deeply connect with others. Every time I've tried to do so, other than with my parents, there has been great pain. If I could figure out how to deal with that I would be a great deal happier than life.
    It's paradoxical. I'm miserable when I spend so much time on my own, so much time in my own head, but I'm also miserable around others because they don't understand how I think. Being understood is indeed over-rated, and therein is likely the problem. I don't have easy answers on how to move past that. Furthermore, I cause the people around me great pain when they see me constantly oscillating between the joy of trying to experience the moment and connect with others, only to fall into depression the next day when I get stuck in my thoughts and find myself disconnected.
    It's in dark times like these that I rethink my life. What gives it meaning. Truth gives it meaning, but it eludes me. There has been no Deus Ex Machina that will reach its hand down and hand me a scroll with the answers. My own searching has provide very ambiguous answers itself. So, besides Truth I have Compassion. So many in pain, so many places in disrepair. There is much purpose in trying to bring about healing.
    Ultimately, there needs to be inner healing first. I'm not much good to others if I'm broken myself. There has to be something more. There has to be a way out of the pit, and a way to stay out. I hate being here, and I find myself here so often.
    This shows that Compassion will die out if it is not paired with Strength. The kind are crushed under foot by the strong man who takes advantage of their credulity. The virtue of kindness becomes equated with a vice for fools. That is why the power to back up those good intentions is needed. The ability to sustain injuries to the psyche and mend them; to be lashed back and forth by the wind and keep pressing forward.
    Those are the three virtues I've based my life around for over a year. Truth, Compassion, and Strength. Reminding myself of them here has helped. If I am to find any lasting peace I must continue to nourish them. I often feel that they are what keeps my mind from being torn asunder. 
    I will find the answers I seek. I will be whole again. I will make a difference.
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  23. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    @Csaba_Bekesi Your messages bring me encouragement and hope. In fact, your hope is contagious, and I really appreciate it. Also, I like the tangerine idea. The choas of losing a wedge causes us to reassess and ultimately make smarter decisions... so long as we don't allow despair to overtake us. A friend shared a metaphor with me that reminded me of yours, that you might enjoy, though it is very different in application. She recommended starting everyone you meet off at a score of 100. As you interact with them you increase or decrease points. This gives you a more big-picture view of who's a giver and who's a taker. This method should be used very loosely, of course, as using such simple metrics for humans can be incredibly dangerous, but it's good for seeing general trends. Thanks for the kind words and wisdom.
    @destoroyah As I was writing that I was leaving the metaphorical door to my life open, I knew I was being dumb. It makes it a lot easier when someone else points that out as well, in their own way, and I really appreciate you being one of many helping hands that has assisted me in shutting that door and lock it. I chalk it up the difficulty of doing so on my own to the "nice guy" syndrome I've been trying to overcome the past year. Nice guys are people-pleasers and are manipulative. Alternatively, kind people act from a place of authenticity, which is different. They're badasses. I see many badass traits in you, and I try to glean as many as I can from what you write. Thanks man.
     Day 226
    Today was pretty laid back (other than getting Schwifty about Rick and Morty season three!), so I'm going to focus on yesterday. Some people couldn't make it to DnD, so we played frisbee instead. The park where we met was having a giant event, and taking in all of the sights and activities was pretty amazing. I met and talked with people I hardly knew, and really tried to get to know the people I came with more deeply as well. We were up to all kinds of shenanigans: learning proper pull-up form using playground equipment, doing the cupid shuffle in the middle of a field of people, performing outrageous dance moves before each frisbee pass, and talking about all manner of things ranging from the wacky to the profound. I've realized that making friends and being happy are both much easier to come by when you take the offensive, rather than trying to cling to them on the defensive. On that note, one of my friends there gave me great advice on how to break physical barriers with other people: he'll spontaneously trust fall (from a seated position so that gravity can do less damage if the other person bails) onto someone he's getting to know, and sees if they push him away. If they don't, he knows that they'll likely be open to more physical touch in the future. This is the kind of offense-focused social mindset I'm taking about. This ties into the theme of the day that I was trying to learn: simple joy and awe. At the park we were surrounded by two demographics that were much larger there than in most places: children and dogs. They both possessed that simple joy and awe for life. Even as a group of young adults we were exhibiting those same traits there, because we were comfortable with each other and comfortable with ourselves.
    I've come so far in five years in learning how to be myself. I don't want to stop. I've learned how to be outgoing, how to use humor again, be unashamed at making inappropriate comments, to dance and look stupid and not care. I've learned to embrace friends not on how similar we are, but in how open-minded and kind-hearted they are. It's for this reason that I'm trying to meet with a different friend every almost every day this week (did it last week), and I've spontaneously decided to join a friend in going to a piano recital this Tuesday. I know this kind of behavior may not be sustainable in the near future, but I know that this foundation is very important right now. A foundation in being positive, friendly, and open to possibilities. A foundation in being happy. The productivity stuff doesn't really serve much of a purpose if you aren't even happy. I'll continue with that stuff, but it's going way behind figuring out the art of happiness for now.
    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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  24. Pierce added a post in a topic The Journey Within   

    Day 223
    Growth comes from being willing to let the old go and fully accepting the new. The pain of losing a friend is there still to a degree, but I am grateful for this new chapter that is opening. To fill that social void I'm now more open to playing D&D with a group of friends that have been inviting me for months. I went for the first time last week and had a blast, and plan on creating my own character this week and joining them again. I also have been making a more concerted effort to reach out to old friends that I have not been seeing so much. I've made a commitment to grow stronger.
    Overall, the main two lessons I'm trying to learn right now are: 1. How to find true peace, by accepting the present moment. 2. How to make the most of every second; walking the tight-rope between efficiency and leisure. I'm hoping that I'll have made a lot more progress towards them both in the coming months
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  25. Pierce added a post in a topic The Cave You Fear To Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek   

    Good job with waking up earlier Bean! You're keeping busy with lots of other important and fun activities, which are a great way to use your time. I've played D&D recently and it fills all of the criteria to replace video games as well, but is far more entertaining. You got this!
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