Friday, March 16, 2012

This is the battlefield

Long time, no post ..so I make one here. (and it evolved: Long time, no post was title but I changed it with the more important idea I focus)

Things are still interesting in my life. Many thoughts I'd like to write about.

I incorporated some good software in my life. One is a life tracker tool for my Android phone, called Success Log. It was the easiest life tracker tool on my phone I could find so far (because when you are a natural procrastinator, it's doubtful you would even spend some time learning the software that is supposed to help you with your procrastination problem, what a vicious circle :P). It's not much like a procrastination tool for me rather than a storing tool for tasks I have completed, so that I can check the statistics in the future (it really has some statistics of the most active days, hours, etc with good graphical representation and it's still a very very minimalistic and straightforward tool). It will be interesting to see the stats after too much and I even track leisure things like a gaming session or book reading session I had. Sometimes I forget logging things but I log them the next day and it doesn't matter if I forget something. Gives you also a bit of the feeling you have accomplished more than you think.

Another interesting site with extreme simplicity and mainly build with the purpose of reminding you what you have accomplished is iDoneThis. I really really love this calendar site where even if you are lazy, it reminds you every day with email to log your activities for this day. You can either do this by replying to the email directly (so you don't even have to go to the site) or from the calendar in the site and you can also edit or delete past or future entries. I have started using it and something more interesting happened. It's not just a tool to fight procrastination or making you feel better about your accomplishments. It's mainly a tool to store my thoughts or things that fascinated me on the day, activities, a trip I've done, some notes to take care of in the future,... well yes it's basically ye olde good personal calendar. But it works and I love it! I am storing thoughts or notices or memories I will want to go back and recover. No statistics in this one but I might take a look at my past entries and get a clue about some things. For example, I grade how I felt physically and emotionally every past day. Could be interesting in the future. And it works as the people of this site intended to, it reminds me that every day is more interesting and active than I originally thought.

It all started with my look at fitocracy (about which I learned from an xkcd comic :) and some articles I read about gamification. It is the process of adding rewards and rpg elements to your daily activities so that you may motivate yourself to do the things you don't want to do (or the ones you want(?) to do but you keep procrastinating about). Well, gamification feels like the carrot on a stick process anyway, my real concern is if we could ever find (or finally accept!) the reason behind our procrastination. Do you want to do the fucking thing? If you would already then you wouldn't succumb to trickery in order to persuade yourself doing the damn thing. It should be that simple. But because sometimes it's hard to do the things you even want to do and yet you inexplicably can't, the question for a meaning, the trickery games, the whole sorrow and all that persists. Anyway, gamification is something that many of us might have in a sense tried even before ever the term was born (motivating us to work on reaching the goal by giving us a present if we do), I almost did little silly games like rolling the D&D 1d20 dices, trying to detach from myself and just do what the dice orders me to do (no, not something extraordinary or senseless, just tasks assigned to numbers).

These things are interesting and I would look more into them even if one might disagree and I understand and support their reasoning. And I ended up with life trackers and other stuff which might be silly for some (because if you want to do the damn thing you will do it, yes I know). I don't say it's the solution, I say it's just interesting to me. And anyway as things evolved, iDoneThis became a personal calendar of my thoughts and experiences of the day, from tasks I completed, things that astonished me, to personal thoughts of that day and dreams that made an impression on me. I love it!

p.s. And as a final paragraph I should mention another important change (hopefully) in my personality. I am sticking with more strength into the attempt to build a stronger conduit to my more confident, more strong self. Most of the times this self is absent and I sense weakness, excuses (talking too much puts you in the excuse mode yes, understandable for sensitive people like me but (hey, another excuse!)) and this is a waste of energy I learned (well I didn't have to, it was obvious but I like to think about it like this because it reminds me of the harm). Again, a series of thoughts, occurrences, a bruteforce decision for changes that just happens one day without seemingly particular reasons, made me think tough on this.

One part of it happened also during the hardest time while working on my incoming CPC demo. Everything flowed well and I was happy and then I went through difficult times the last days before the deadline and felt in sorrow. Then I rose up and said "Didn't you want to do a good demo after a long time? Now eat this! Accept that it takes effort and stop arguing about it. This is the demomaking. This is hard work for a vain glory. But it feels well at the end no matter if you now ask yourself "Why am I doing this?". If you want results you have to struggle. This is your battlefield! Embrace the sucking." and then I replied in a more sympathetic tone "You are free to choose. You have done this before. You can quit if you find this too much. Or you can continue working on demos but have in mind and accept it that the work is supposed to be hard and time consuming and disappointing at times and this is normal. Be sure though that your efforts will be rewarded at least. And even if you feel they didn't at some occasions, this is the battlefield, a place where sometimes things fail without a reason and you get nothing. Embrace this notion, live with it and minimize sorrow."

I had this idea in my mind and started believing in it and tried to think how it would apply in other things that matter, like job hunting/interviews, the world we face, my fears, my feeling of lack of self-esteem, the things I have to bear with everyday and everyone has to fight more or less. There could be a bar which says for example sorrow: 70% / courage: 30% (or substitute courage with actual work, effort, etc). This would be my case. My effort would be to reduce sorrow and advance the other part. Be more balanced with that. This is what I understood should be my focus and while it can be just a theoritical idea that is hard to apply in reality especially for people similar to me, something happened this days and instead of letting this idea die, I stick to it. And I was determined to remember it. Because tomorrow your old mental habits might work at max again and you will forget anything about courage, self-esteem or that more powerful self you wanted to be. It sucks and that's how things work with some of us but hey, don't feed on that, don't feed on the sorrow, don't get suck in the self-pitty again, this is the most important battlefield and I call it a meta-battlefield now and it encapsulates the smaller battlefields in life. This is my current theory and I will remember it.

I decided through some other spontaneous decision to find a way to open more frequent conduits to my stronger self (I like this word, like communication channels to some other parallel dimension, and hey there is this great alien FPS game for Wii with this name :). I have something with mirrors. I can't look for the hell of it myself in the mirror. Of course, when I have to wash my teeth, make my hair and all that stuff, I will look. But I do avoid it when it's possible. I made an initiation with myself today while talking confidently to myself on the mirror (I tried it in the past too and then forgot it, but now it feels stronger. It's classic in movies too when someone prepares for a talk :). To talk to myself to the mirror confidently looking into my eyes and reminding me, the important is reminding me, that this is my more confident, more powerful self and I should be more in contact with him and listen to him. Does it sound scary? Or is it a mindfuck? I'll do it when I walk to the elevator in my place. I always keep the head down because somehow I can't look myself to the mirror. And elevator mirrors can be scary, brrr.. (but that's not the point :).

Small baby steps. Another thought is that I could add more tasks of little at first things I am afraid to do and avoid if possible. I could unlock my more confident self then. You would say, common sense, common wisdom. Everybody told you. You would start patronizing "There, I told you! You should just chase situations instead of avoiding it!". (Made me angry because it's like they didn't understand my condition, how much harder it must be for me. But that's in the excuse domain even if fair enough). But the thing is, some of these "common wisdoms" we are told, we have heard them or decided about them tens of times but they never take off in practice. It's easy to say you should quit smoking or start a diet but if it was just a logical decision there would be no such problem to talk about. Another big question is, what is the thing, what is the occurrence that suddenly make some people to succeed making the big change.

This is an important question. I have heard several people telling me "I was a heavy smoker, but after 10 years I woke up oneday and took the decision ONCE. And that was it!" but they can never explain you what suddenly worked when it didn't the other 50 attempts before. This is the mystery! If these people could tell you what is the holy grail of changing then we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't need fitocracy, we wouldn't need gamification, motivational tricks, self-help gurus, life philosophies, addictions to replace other addictions to help this society achieve their goals and dreams with high success or less effort. What is the answer? Why everyone who suddenly solves some of this problems for himself doesn't have the real answer on how to make this change a reality, how to persuade yourself to make the big step with no return to the old condition, and the only thing they end up doing is playing a moronic patronizing role, nagging other people who are in a similar condition that they should stop doing this like they forgot how it was when they had the problem.

Answer me that. I dare you. And no the solution is not "Just do it!". What I am asking for is what was the factor for some people who suddenly did a big change in their lives and they don't tell us afterwards, something that some of us can not even imagine doing even after the 50st time of deciding to take responsibility for ourselves again. Maybe it's all about the realization in the sense of The Battlefield I mentioned above, that there might not be an answer to this, that life itself is the battlefield where things are naturally hard and we should just embrace the suckery of how hard some things are for each one of us and decide whether to move on onto some things or forget them, but without sorrow, just with a sense of responsibility that this is the battlefield, it's meaned to be harsh and wrongful and this is us focusing on the dirty war. It's sounding hard but this is all I have come so far. You just have to pray that those rare events where something inside you suddenly make you change without a reason might become a reality and one that stays with you from now on and you never come back to your old habits.

This is the battlefield. This is all I can think now about the things we want to do but we can't do, the things we find too hard in every aspect of life, the fears we suffer from and makes us wasting energy, the answers we never get from people who have supposedly moved on and changed, the whole acceptance of suckery and a stronger mental stance one should possibly keep in order to move on. This is life.

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