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The Cave You Fear To Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek

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Thanks for reading.  Call me Bean.  This first post will be more of a history, with subsequent ones adopting the more structured format of tracking.

I am a future-oriented thinker.  It explains my love of Science Fiction, why I can turn down the endless cupcakes, bagels, and doughnuts that coworkers reach for without a second thought.  It is why I graduated Magna Cum Laude while my friends scraped by with C's.

But video games bypass that long term logic as easy as breathing.  Where peer pressure, alcohol, and pot failed to make me act stupidly or against my greater desires, video games succeeded.  

I had a year of /played in World of Warcraft before I graduated high school.  

My parents knew somehow that video games were a bad influence either in general or on me specifically.  I was never allowed to own anything like a gameboy growing up, so naturally I spent a lot of time looking over the shoulders of friends'.  I spent one summer sitting beside my friend while he played through The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.  It might have been more action than watching the grass grow, but not by much.  

All my friends in high school gamed, and went so far as to pitch in to buy me an Xbox for my birthday, thinking my parents couldn't say no if they knew it was a gift.  It worked.  I bought a 25 ft ethernet cord and ran it down the stairs and along the hallway so that I could play on our old TV.  And a lot of it was fun, and I juggled girlfriends and school and jobs and gaming.  It was what caused me to race through my housework and skip down the hall.  The maximization of game time.

Now, five years out of college, I game in the sparse free time that my job and other demands allow.  Every game of league is 20 or 40 minutes that I am not spending with my dog or girlfriend, when I will ignore them at best or snap at them when I am forced to remove my headphones and step out of 'the zone'.  The zone is a brainless state not to be confused with flow.  It leads to eyes that are sore the next day, but which can't fight the urge to play one more game.  

My gaming is not at its worst, but I am at a place in my life where I see its negative effects most clearly.  Because I have also been meditating consistently for the last half year, I also notice how my attitude and thoughts change on days and weeks I game versus those when I do not.  I have read Duhigg, listened to & read Ferriss (and Harris), and spent time learning about willpower and habit formation.  I have, in the past, built up a barrier to gaming so thorough that I thought it could not be beaten.  

But gaming bypasses that logic. I 'outfoxed' myself.  Used blocksite to prevent game installation?  Disable blocksite.  Used OpenDNS to prevent altering blocksite? Reset the passwords, recover the accounts (or make a new one, in terms of League).  I had a letter that I wrote to myself in July after a particularly loathsome waste of time in League of Legends that my blocksite would reroute to.  It reminded me of all the reasons not to game, that the boredom would pass, that I wanted to live my life.  I clicked past it, found a way around it.

This time around I have dedicated myself financially to this site as well as in uninstall protection on blocksite.  I have requested deletion on League (which is an alarmingly long process), wiped my computer clean, and am tracking through this journal.  

I have set myself to challenges before.  I quit drinking for months alongside friends who wanted to try it.  I signed up & trained for an obstacle race.  I have participated in national novel writing month twice.  I meditated using the 'X effect' for 50 days in a row.  I ate no carbs and worked out 3 days a week for multiple months.  I have a novel draft that is over 100K words that needs my attention, but after a long day at work, my willpower is gone and if the barriers aren't there, I will install or play games until the hour becomes late enough that I have to start getting ready for the next day's errands.  Gaming affects my sleep, then my decision-making: gym or no gym, groceries or fast food, work or play.  It is the monkey wrench in an otherwise well calibrated decision machine.  I simply don't have the time in my life to waste gaming.  So I am going to make this time different.

 

Edited by LuminousBean
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Days without gaming: 3

Meditation: 15 minutes (18 total hours on Headspace)

Mind: Finished The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.  Downloaded The Willpower Instinct as it came up on digital loan from the library.  Finished Punic Nightmares III from Dan Carlin on my walk, as well as a few other short podcast episodes on current events.

Body: 4 mile walk/jog/hike with the dog.  Felt great to get out into the sun and see the wildflowers in bloom.  Much better than getting up and gaming.  D&D (my Sunday ritual for the past few years) was cancelled today, and that usually means a group call while we game.  I did not partake, though I saw the messages of my buddies who were gaming.  I am trying to figure out how to continue to play D&D with them weekly, which requires a lot of creativity, personal interaction, and improvisation, without relapsing since they are all gamers and the people I am most likely to game with.

Errands: Got groceries, which generally means I will eat much better and make better decisions this week.  When I don't buy groceries on the weekend, I end up making bad food decisions that lead to less energy and worse decisions throughout the weak--it compounds upon itself.  Also did laundry and cooked, and took care of the places the dog has been digging.  Overall quite productive and was able to do a few nice things for my gf.

Writing: Did not write yet today, though I have started to mentally compose my review of The Wise Man's Fear.  

Notes: I did feel a bit irritable today about random stupid things the kind that might make you curse but are just momentary obstacles.  Would like to be more patient with myself and others when these types of happen (dropping something, someone gets in the way when walking, etc.).  

Planning to keep checking in on this and using my Passion Planner to track days, not sure yet what items I want to include in my template.  Will continue to read the other Daily Journals here to get an idea of what seems valuable.

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Meditate: 15 + 20 (morning and afternoon)

5AM Wakeup: Hell Yes.  Coffee and meditation.  Checked New York Times too early, could have used the time even better.

Mind: Wrote very briefly.  Started The Willpower Instinct audiobook.  No strong opinions so far.  One interesting note, the author splits willpower into three distinct camps: "I will..." + "I won't...." + "I want..." Video games fit into that second category pretty well, but quitting is also complimented by reminding myself what I want long term and what I will do each day to get there.

Body: 7.5 miles today between work & walking the dog.

Notes: Pretty great day overall.  Didn't eat too well or too badly.  1 beer with dinner, 7.7%.  Liked the interface of this Chains.CC thing.  I used dontbreakthechain for awhile but it was just too clunky.  Would like the functionality to be something other than days of the week (ex. let me set a goal to lift 3x a week instead of on MWF).

D&D buddies frothed on our group text about downloading the new Mass Effect game.  I really enjoyed the story aspects of Mass Effect, but I am also wary enough to remember all the running around in fixed city environments wondering where the hell to go and running into barriers.  It was fun, but not as life changing as publishing a book would be.  That's what I have to start putting on the scale against gaming.  No real strong urges today.  The barriers I have put in place to my own gaming seem fairly secure.  Walked my gf to work with the dog today.  Told her about the site.

 

 

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Hi, good job at going game free for three days. Do as you wish but here's a piece of advice, from what I learned here I came to this this conclusion that having the whole world keep you locked up and punch you every day so you can snap out of it, you won't quit gaming if you don't want to. The moment you decided to quit you should keep in mind that you acknowledged you spent so much time doing that and you can't change it unless you can change the whole time and space (I can't and not being able change the past bothered me), so now you're going to let it go and live the present. If you consider playing again for far future after second thoughts, it means you still haven't decided to fully quit them. This was a personal experience, since I have tried different ways to quit my addiction and in the end I failed because I was still thinking about what would happened if I upgraded my characters one more level or what if I played or tried the new update for only a brief moment. Only letting games completely go knowing I won't play again could help me to get through it. In short: 1. acknowledge your past 2. understand why you're quitting 3. let it go forever

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@NewComer thanks for the reply.  I'll take that into consideration--it is a good way also to think of the 'closing a chapter' on that part of life.

5 Days Game Free

5AM Wakeup: 5:20, so not quite my goal.  Definitely wouldn't have made it through the last two days without significant coffee.

Meditation: 15 + 10 (felt my head drooping at the end of the afternoon session)

Mind: Continuing 3rd Hitchiker's Guide book, listened to a few podcasts (TED Radio Hour, the episode wasn't great).  More from The Willpower Instinct.  Plan to revive Duolingo by the end of the week to have my Spanish fluency feeling stronger.

Body:  8.25 miles today between walking dog with gf to work, working, and walking dog this evening.  Feet hurt!  But still not the same as lifting or BJJ.  Dreading the deload after a week and a half.

Food: Solid slow carb breakfast & dinner.  Had a coworker cook lunch for me, which had some grease & carbs, but the fact that it was the exception today makes that alright.

Notes: No game cravings really today.  1 Beer, 7%.  Putting into effect some of the tips from The Willpower Instinct.  Meditation is the main low-hanging fruit, so I have to try some of the other strategies.  I have to start thinking of writing as an "I want..." and an "I will..." otherwise I will keep brushing it aside.  Gf is working 70 hour weeks, which is making basic maintenance of the apartment & dog more burdensome, but I know I can get more done if I use my time well.

I noticed another journal had short term, medium term, and long term goals that he reposted each day.  I like that idea, and am mulling it over.  My worry is I want to be a person of my word.  I have plenty of friends and know tons of people who have grand visions and ideas of what they want to do, who never even undertake one of their boasts.  I'll keep it short and adjust over time if it doesn't work out.

Short Term  (week)

Lock down scheduling of time, specifically for: Lifting (3xweek), writing (40 min daily), sleeping (5am wakeup, supported by being more responsible/firm with bed time)

Schedule test for work.

Mid Term

Get Resume together for job applications and moving cities

Brush up on espanol

File taxes

Get back into surfing

Long Term

Complete draft, edit, send out novel for consideration

Push beyond comfort zone, get outside

 

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Game Free: 6 Days

5AM: Yes. Started today feeling sluggish, then oddly euphoric after meditating, then exhausted, then coffee.

Meditation: 15 + 26.  Nice long afternoon meditation helped me get through the end of the day

Body: 4.5 miles walked just from work.  Walked gf to work in the morning, but she took the dog to the park this afternoon.  Want to start lifting again, but not wanting to deal with the drive there at 5pm.  1 beer, 7%.

Mind: More Willpower Instinct.  New Radiolab.  Started "Ghosts of the Ostfront" Dan Carlin series.

Writing: Wrote for 40 minutes plus.  Was glad I did, now I remember how satisfying longer sessions are.  Shorter ones feel like I am putting in the time but not getting anything from it really.

Notes: Stressed out about a work thing tomorrow, and about finishing the week strong.  Having trouble taking action because there are a lot of mid-level priorities that I could work on, but they can also be procrastinated.  Excited to get back on my discipline game once I have some time off next week.  Going to try an immersion tank, something I've been thinking about for awhile.  Noticed in @Simms journal that he has his goals set in months, going to consider that and then actually labeling with due dates.  I have wriggled out of due dates in the past but if it's even partially effective, it's pushing me towards my goals.  Breathe.  Be patient.

No game cravings.  No time for them today, and I feel the draw weaken when I'm busy or have it together enough to remember that time spent meditating or walking makes me feel better, while time spent gaming makes me feel worse.

Short Term  (week)

Lock down scheduling of time, specifically for: Lifting (3xweek), writing (40 min daily), sleeping (5am wakeup, supported by being more responsible/firm with bed time)

Schedule test for work.

Mid Term

Get Resume together for job applications and moving cities

Brush up on espanol

File taxes

Get back into surfing

Long Term

Complete draft, edit, send out novel for consideration

Push beyond comfort zone, get outside

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Nice title for a journal, I could not agree more. We need to face our demons otherwise others they control us. Or let's reverse the situation: what if we actually sit in the cave and the shadow of the people passing by is our ideal self-image when we free ourselves from the chains of addictions? (reference: Plato's cave allegory).

Keep up the good work!

 

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12 Days Game Free

Notes: Have had a lot more time with the break from work, felt a few pangs to game in moments where I knew I had some time on my hands, but I have put it towards other things with good results overall.  As evidenced by my streaks, doing better with exercise (back in the gym yesterday) and writing.  Not shown are all of the things around the house I am finally getting around to.  Good stuff. 

Up through the first week I had a good chain of posts.  Rethinking how I want to approach the Daily Journal, as I just kept putting it off.  The fact that I haven't gamed doesn't mean that this sort of tracking isn't a good thing for me.  I think I will set a time aside to do it each evening and put a reminder on.

Meditation: 10 minutes morning, now have 100 sessions and 20 hours on Headspace, which is a pretty satisfying number to look at.  Also on a 13 day streak of that, pretty cool.

Body: Beach with dog, walk with dog. 4.6 miles today. Rest day from lifting but probably could have done jiu jitsu if I had planned ahead better.

Mind: 1 chapter of Willpower Instinct, Dan Crlin's Ghosts of the Ostfront III, two Writing Excuses episodes.

Writing: I wrote for several hours today, as well as getting some research done for a writing competition I am entering.  The pressure to do it well is good, as long as I don't let it keep me from starting.  I hope that this journal is not going to become procrastination from writing.

Short Term: 

Keep waking up and getting shit done.

Write a significant portion every day, with a draft done by Thursday.

Mid Term: 

Complete application for writing

Resume polish

Taxes

Surfing

Long Term: 

Complete, draft, edit novel for consideration

Push outside comfort zone, try new things.

Typing those out was actually a really good thing for me to do.  I can see how it gets people to remember what they're after and drop off stuff that has become irrelevant, tedious, or that gets done.

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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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