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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Anxiety and beginnings.

If you are like me, you have a serious problem.

You have a constant discomfort.Your inner self is a mix of fear, confusion, regret, anger and irritability.All compacted into one constant inner discomfort.
Anxiety.

And maybe, like me, you have started over several times .You have had several new beginnings, where you have started an effort to make your life into what you want it to be.It may not have been directly about dealing with your anxiety, but indirectly, like a new school year, a new job, or any other way in which you have tried to turn your life around.

But after a while you get to a point where you just can't deal with it anymore.Things come up which you don't feel you are prepared to handle, you are filled with negative emotions and you just can't focus on what you are doing anymore.

So you give up.You escape.
You do whatever minimum you have to do to get by, and otherwise you only do what you can to avoid negative thoughts and emotions.You sit around your house all the time, you watch TV, you surf the net.You neglect your surroundings, and you neglect yourself.

You drift around aimlessly, maybe for days, maybe for weeks, maybe even for months or years.

But of course, you are not totally engulfed in your escape.You still wish to overcome this, you want inner peace, you want happiness, you want to have a fulfilling and good life.Even though you are maybe in such a state of negativity that you can't even imagine yourself having a good life.But it's always in the back of your mind, a little flame of desire, a vague vision of what you want your life to be.

So while you are busy ignoring reality, you sometimes think about making an effort.You think a little, you make some small attempts to get yourself going. You are trying to get momentum, but progress is slow.

And then we come to the main point about this post, since we are talking about beginnings.

You have probably said to yourself things like:

"This isn't the right time to start something"
"I don't have the right feeling to get myself going"
"I'm not in the right state of mind"

You don't have the right "feeling" to get yourself going right now.

But what does that really mean?

I think that a key aspect of it is that you don't see clearly the purpose of the things you are doing.You don't feel confident that there is a connection between the everyday tasks that you are doing and the long lasting goals of happiness and inner peace.

And these everyday tasks can be several different things.

Not making an effort at work or school, not exercising, not eating right, not trying to become more social.Not being continuously focused and determined on what you are doing.If you are very depressed and unmotivated it can be things like neglecting your personal hygiene, neglecting your surroundings, not cleaning your house or apartment and son on.

You don't see the purpose.
You can't give yourself a satisfying answer to questions like "Why should i be doing this?" "Why should i WANT do be doing this?".

Now, if you are simply thinking about it in very general terms, the answer can be very obvious.The things you are doing, the mundane everyday things at school or at work and otherwise should contribute to bringing you closer to the things you really want in life.Enjoyment, experiences, pleasures, peace, excitement and your general well being.

That's not really hard to understand is it?

Ideally you should just be able to tell yourself this when you are feeling unmotivated for something you are doing, and the intellectual realization that what you are doing serves a higher purpose should give you a better feeling about doing it.

When you try to motivate yourself, you probably try to imagine yourself where you have always wanted to be. You try to feel how good it would be to reach it, to be there.Why? Because if you can succeed in getting rid of negative emotions for a moment, you can THINK more clearly.And then you might be able to "see" the general steps you have to take to get where you want to be.

But of course, sometimes it just doesn't work that way.
Sometimes you just cannot make yourself feel good about doing something.
You just can't make yourself motivated to the extent that you would like.
Why not?

Well, one thing is that there are no guarantees in life, there is no guarantee that you will succeed, but that is true for anyone regardless of their own thoughts and emotions.

And if you have failed many times before, you will probably have a degree of fear that your efforts are pointless, that you will fail again.

Another thing is that if you have many problems, many fears, you either want to sit around procrastinating on them, or do something to ignore them.You will have a problem when you have to use your mind to focus on doing something, you are trying to focus, but you have so many unresolved issues in your head.

So, you can't get the right "feeling".
Well the thing is, you are waiting for something which anyway wont last, even if you do get it.

You have probably had "right moments" or "right feelings" before, a moment of clarity when your negative emotions died down for a moment, and you could see yourself at your goal. You felt good and you were thinking clearly, you started thinking about the steps you would have to take, and you made a connection from where you was at the time to where you wanted to be.You maybe even felt that this was a whole new beginning, it would be EASY, you could see it, you just had to follow the steps.

Maybe a few minutes, hours or days later, reality came up and smacked you in the face.And you realized that the moment of good feelings and clarity was gone.

So what is it you are looking for which wont last anyway?

You are looking for a lasting good feeling, a lasting peace of mind. You want your everyday struggle of working on overcoming obstacles and realizing your dreams to be interesting and exciting and nice.

But that's looking at your situation somewhat backwards.
You are looking for something which never comes at the beginning.

You will have to be making some tangible progress before you will get a good feeling which will last.You have to get a taste of success, you have to see that your efforts might take you somewhere.That is the "right feeling" you are looking for, and it is very unlikely that you can have it without doing some work, some HARD work, where there will be many days when you just don't feel good.

You are waiting for a lasting peace of mind you can't have without working on it.You are waiting for a deeper understanding you can't obtain without working on it.You are waiting for a happiness you can't have without working on it.

If you are feeling good one day, if you have a moment of clarity, it is a fleeting moment.Such a moment doesn't change who you are, you have the same unsolved problems, you have the same unaccomplished goals.

You cannot wait for the moment to be right, the moment will never be EXACTLY right, and it certainly wont last.

You WILL start loosing sight of your goals, you WILL start loosing faith.And if you think there are any other lasting solution than enduring and carefully working through it you are wrong.
Dead wrong.

Happiness is something you build, success is something you build.You have to start with whatever mess you're in, and you have to start cleaning up that mess.

The only "right moment" which is worth talking about is the moment when you have the opportunity to take a little step further towards realizing your dreams.

And that moment is, as always...



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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Why you should develop and follow a good daily routine.

What is a routine?

From Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: 1rou·tine
Pronunciation: rü-'tEn
Function: noun

Etymology: French, from Middle French, from route traveled way

1 a : a regular course of procedure b : habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure

2 : a reiterated speech or formula

3 : a worked-out part (as of an entertainment or sports contest) that may be often repeated;
especially : a theatrical number

4 : a sequence of computer instructions for performing a particular task

The keywords here are regular, habitual, mechanical, reiterated and repeated.

A routine is basically a plan which is followed repeatedly at certain intervals.
Informally it is the things you do everyday, but more accurately it is the plan you follow every day.

Most people follow a daily routine to some extent.You get up, you eat breakfast, you go to work, come home, work out, and so on.You do certain activities at certain times, and you spend a certain amount of time on each activity.How rigorously people follow a routine of course varies, some days you neglect an activity, or you spend to much time on one activity so that you don't have time for others.

Many people are of course not very conscious of their routine, they have just developed it as they go along without giving it much thought.And they might follow a routine somewhat rigorously just to the extent that they feel they need to, usually to work and bring in the cash, and then they might crash in front of the TV or hang out with friends or engage in some other activity which they don't consider "part of the routine".

Many people also only think of routine as something negative, often their job, something you "have to do" so you can spend your time on what life is "really about".But they don't see that following the routine is what gives them the means to do what they want, and that they can improve that routine so they can spend even more time, and better time, on doing what they want.

So why should you care more about your routines?

Well, to answer that we have to answer another question first.

What should be the purpose of a routine?

The purpose of the routine should be that it helps you accomplish the things you really want to do in life as fast as you want, and with as little unwanted struggle as possible.
That is a good routine, it serves a higher purpose, as in getting you closer to your goals.

So how can a good routine help you accomplish this?

Well, depending on what you want to achieve there are certain things you have to do repeatedly at certain intervals, often every day.

Like training, studying, or working on any sort of skill.
You have to do it repeatedly to improve, and regularly and often, because you do not have all the time in the world, and you want to achieve something with it sooner rather than later. The activities are usually less rewarding in themselves compared to some higher goals which you have imagined yourself accomplishing.

And since there is only a certain amount of time in the day, you can not spend to much time on one activity and thus neglecting other important activities.This will damage your overall plan. So it is in your interest to find out how much time you can spend on each activity.

Another thing is that certain activities you can not decide for yourself when to do without reducing your opportunity to do others. If you decide to stay at home from work perfecting your wood-carving skills, your employer will probably not be to happy about it, and you might be out of a job soon.If you go to school or university you will have to attend certain activities at certain times etc.
So another aspect of a good routine is when to do each activity.

So let's say you have decided that after work you have planned to do 2 hours of working out, you have set aside a certain time of the day to do this, and decided on the amount of time you are going to spend on it. Then you go to the gym and spend your time looking at people, thinking about some problems you have, daydreaming about things you want to do etc, etc...

That is, you are making an half-assed effort of it because you are distracted and uncertain, and that is not making the best of your routine. Your routine should be in such a way that you can be focused and determined in the way you are doing your activities, knowing that you are doing them to achieve some greater goal.
You have maybe imagined yourself fit and muscular and feeling good, and that is what you want to achieve, you want it, and if you are not focused and determined in what you are doing you are going to get there slower, or you might just give up completely because you are not seeing progress fast enough.You must be able to put other things aside and really get into it.

How this is related to the routine is more about what activities you are actually doing, and what your goals are. If you have doubts about what you want to achieve, or doubts about whether or not you are able to make it, then it is difficult to be motivated and determined. You will spend your time thinking and doubting more than actually doing.

So a good routine takes into consideration:
  • The time you can spend on each activity.
  • When you are doing each activity.
  • What activities you want to be doing.
  • The focus and determination you put in to all of your activities.
Another good aspect of routines.

Some of the keywords above were "habitual" and "mechanical", and that raises another good point about a good routine. It can be a struggle to develop and follow a good routine, but hopefully you will get more and more comfortable with it, and you will notice that you do some things "habitually" and "mechanically".This might be seen as boring and not very rewarding, but that is usually because you have lost sight of the higher purpose of following the routine, the higher goals you want to achieve.

The "habitual" and "mechanical" aspects of the routine can actually be good, in such a way that if you are having a bad day or a bad week you will still get things done.When you get more and more skilled at the things you do, you don't have to be so creative all the time, you do not have to use all your mental energy and motivation to simply get things done. And eventually when you are in a good mood, or you have seen the fruits of your labor, you will feel good that you followed the routine in spite of having a bad day or a bad week.

It is much more of a struggle going through life disorganized and undisciplined, starting and quitting new things or maybe even the same things over and over again, never realizing your dreams because you're not working continuously towards them, and worrying that the future will only bring more of the same.

Why should you follow a routine?

So, why you should care more about your routines?
If you really care about achieving your goals, you want to care more about your routines, because following a good routine will help you get there.

A good daily routine will have the quality that if you follow it you will get those things you have planned to do every day done, and in getting those things done you will get closer to your goals,
and the ultimate goal is of course to create a stronger and longer lasting happiness.

And that is why you should develop and follow a good daily routine.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Take care of the little things...

...and the big things will still be there waiting for you, life isn't that easy.
Sorry.

But the little things I'm talking about are probably not the little things you are thinking
about,but even smaller things, little annoying things.


The little things that you were supposed to do, and are easy to do, but which you haven't done
yet because you just couldn't bother.

Things that are not very high on your list of priorities.


Things that you are reminded of regularly in your everyday life.
Like the light bulb you were supposed to change, something you have meant
to move to storage, something you have planned to throw away, something
you have meant to repair.

They are little reminders telling you that: "you're not a person who gets things
done, "you are a person who always puts things on hold!", "a successful person
wouldn't wait forever to do this, but you will , probably because you are not a successful person."

They are constant little annoyances, annoyances you don't need.
They give you a little jolt of bad feelings every time you are reminded of them.
They are annoying little gnomes telling you "ha ha , you haven't done anything about ME yet!!"

Kill those gnomes!



"Ha ha.You're a failure."


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Monday, August 07, 2006

Making smoking my bitch.

Okay,

Do you know these guys?




















Or this fella here?

















Here is a gang of them,
at their favourite hang-out.















These little bastards have been acting like they are the boss of me for 12, 13 years now.
I have really never counted how many i suck down per day, and i really don't wanna know.

I am smoking one right now, i have smoked three or four while working on this post, and i
will smoke a couple until i push the "publish" button. I work and smoke, think and smoke.

But.

I really can't quit completely right now, and i don't see myself doing that in the immediate
future.I wont even try, because experience tell me i will fail.

But i don't see any rational reason why i shouldn't be able to be an "organized smoker",
to chose how many or when I'm going to smoke.

I can already hear the protests now: "No man, that ain't working, if you take one you're
gonna get sucked right in!!"

Well, that has always been the case with me too.
But the problem is that i haven't been properly motivated, i haven't been determined.
I have made half-assed efforts, no, i have made less-than-a-quarter-assed efforts.
I have succumbed to the amount of other problems in my life, and chosen to give up.

But, i have a new-found determination right now. I want to turn my life around,
that is why i put up this blog in the first place.
And i have been doing some thinking that gives me faith in that i can make it this time,
some of these thoughts i have formulated in previous posts.

Some smokers claim that "they don't even like it", but i love to smoke. I could make a
long list on how and where and when i enjoy a cigarette, but that would be kind of counterproductive
(read: stupid), so I'm going to list a few things about smoking which are undeniably
negative.

You waste time doing it.
I usually roll my own, so i spend time rolling them, there's a few minutes gone each day.
I take several smoke brakes, which is a time waster in itself, and even worse if you are in
a place where you have to get up and go somewhere to have a smoke.

There's the health issue.
You get easily out of breath.
You loose some of your appetite, because it gives you a feeling of being full (think anorectic models)
It has an effect on your taste buds, things don't taste as good as they could.
It sometimes make me drowsy and give me headaches, this makes it harder to keep up motivation,
and i really need all the motivation i can muster up.
And then theres this little inconvenience called "lung cancer" that you probably want to make an
effort to avoid.

It smells (even if you might not notice it much yourself)
It sticks to your clothes.
It makes the tip of your fingers yellow, same with your teeth.
And it might eventually give your face a certain "dried up prune" like appearance.

In short, it affects your health, your appearance and it is wasting your time.

So, this is the first "project" i am going to give myself on this blog, to make a "smoking routine",
and follow that routine.
You can choose when you're going to smoke, i am sick of allowing cravings to determine
what I'm going to do with my time.

I am going to make smoking my bitch.


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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Plan to achieve your dreams

Do you have any plans?

What have you planned to do after you're done reading this?
What are you doing later today? Got any plans?
What are you doing tomorrow?
What are your plans for this week?
Do you have anything planned for next month?
Got any plans for what you're gonna do next year?

Do you have any plans for what you're going to do with your life?

No?

Well, when we ask someone if they have any plans, we usually
mean do they have any goals, something they intend to do.

So, do you have any goals then?
Nothing concrete?

How about dreams then?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you at least dream
about achieving happiness.
Am i wrong?

So if you don't have any clear goals, you can at least make happiness
as one of your goals.

So lets write down whatever emotional state you are in now, and
point towards where you want to be.

A (You now) -------> B (You happy)





Hey! It looks like we have a simple outline of a plan.
Our plan is: Achieve happiness.

Hmmm. How do i get from A to B?
There's probably a lot of intermediate steps between A and B,
what move do i make next to get closer to B?

What is a plan?

From the Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:

Plan.

1 : a drawing or diagram drawn on a plane: as a : a top or horizontal
view of an object b : a large-scale map of a small area

2 a : a method for achieving an end b : an often customary method of
doing something : PROCEDURE c : a detailed formulation of a program
of action d : GOAL, AIM

3 : an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective

4 : a detailed program (as for payment or the provision of some service)

So a plan is informally a description of how to get from A to B.
You can have this description in your head, you can have it written down
somewhere, or maybe both.
It is a map, a recipe.

So, there are two things, goals and plans.

Your goals describe where you wanna be.

Your plans describes how to get there.

Why have a plan?

Well, you already have some plans.
When you think about something you want to do, and you just do it,
you are able to do so because you already have the descriptions in your head.

If you suddenly want a chocolate, you probably already know how to get to the store.
If you didn't know, you would have to find out by asking someone,or looking at a map,
or simply get in your car and try to find it.
That is, making up the plan as you go, by trial and error.Which is fine for
uncomplicated things.

So we have:

You now ------------> You munching on chocolate

Easy.

For more complicated things, like going to a town you have never been in and finding some office where you have an appointment, it would be a bad idea to simply get in your car and go without doing some thinking beforehand.
You look at some maps, you find the best routes, find out what time is the best to go, if you can get there before the office closes etc etc..

You do some thinking beforehand, so you can achieve what you want as fast and with as little hassle as possible.


So this plan could be:

You at your house ---------> You at departement of motor vehicles.

A little trickier, need to do some planning.


And then we have our main plan

A (You now) ---------> B (You happy)

Hmmm, complicated....
Gotta do some serious thinking on that one.

In all cases you want to get to the goal as fast as you want,
and with as few setbacks as possible.
That is why you should have a plan.


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Hey you!


What do you dream about doing?
And are you doing something now to make your dreams come true?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Escaping reality wont do you any good

What do i mean by escaping from reality?

There are many things in the daily life which might not feel good.
Maybe you have fears about the future, maybe you are beating yourself up over mistakes from the past.
Maybe it is a struggle to motivate yourself because you are very uncertain that your efforts will eventually
make a difference.

And the negative thoughts makes you feel bad about your situation.
And you don't want to feel bad, you want to feel good.

There are basically two ways to achieve that:

1. Solving your problems and reaching your goals.

2. Ignoring your problems and your goals, and do something which will make you feel better instantly.

Like:

Watching TV for several hours
Surfing the Internet for hours without any goal or purpose.
Getting lost in your own thoughts.
Drinking, doing drugs.
Driving around, walking around, hanging around.
Hanging with your friends.
Etc, etc....

And when you are doing these things you are partly in fantasy land
In fantasy land your problems doesn't exist.

So we are not only talking about an escape from reality,
but more accurately a rejection of reality.

But eventually reality will rear its ugly head, and back in reality things are of course the same
as they were before.

All the problems you had before the escape are still there.
All the things you want to achieve are still as far away as before.
You don't have greater self-esteem.
You are not happier.
You haven't achieved any greater peace of mind.

Nothing has really changed, because you haven't actually done anything.

So what is it that you get from it?
What is the reward for escaping from reality?

The reward you get is the feeling you get then and there.

It is the good mood you're in when you get drunk or do drugs.
It is the good feeling you get when you have seen a good movie or TV show,
and maybe seen yourself in that world for a while.
It is the good feeling you get when you are engaged in some flight of fantasy,
daydreaming that your situation is different.


It is the good feeling you get from whatever activity you engage in where you
don't actually change anything about your situation.

And it wont last.

You can have a good time for a few hours, and after that you return to
your old miserable self as soon as you discover that your situation still is what it was.

So i think a short description of "escape from reality" can be:

Engaging in activities for the sole purpose of feeling better, usually activities
where you do very little or nothing to work on solving your problems or reaching your goals.

It is pointless.

You will not achieve lasting happiness if you keep doing it.
I know it hasn't done me any good, it has been exactly the way i have described it.
It makes you feel better then and there, and afterwards you quickly return to your same old mood.
And if you continue, you will still be the same miserable person in the future.

So if you want true happiness, the only solution is number 1.

1. Solving your problems and reaching your goals.

Don't reject reality.

PS:

I'm not talking about the distractions, breaks and pauses you would
have in the context of a successful life.

Sometimes you need a break, it is beneficial for you to get a break.
You have to calm your brain down, you have to do something different because
you're tired etc.

And that's everything from a power-nap to an evening of binge-drinking.
In fact all of the things i have mentioned as escapes you can do.

But the important thing is:

You are doing them in the context of a greater plan, a plan to overcome your problems
and achieving your dreams.
And you should not let your escapes destroy that plan.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bad thinking, and why you should avoid it.

I'm sure there is something you want in life.
I'm sure there is something you desire,
something you want to have, or something you want to do.

Maybe you want more money, maybe a better social life, nicer things, a better body, nicer clothes, a job you are happy with, better relations with your family, diamonds, gold, running a marathon, whatever.

Maybe you only have a vague idea that you want something better, or maybe
you have clear, concrete plans.
Maybe you even have a written list of things you want to have, or things you
want to do.

So how do you achieve those things?
How do you accomplish your goals?
How do you get from where you are now to where you want to be?

Well, you think, plan and act.

Everything requires a certain degree of thinking and planning, and if you don't
act you surely wont achieve anything.

But right now i don't want to focus on how to get what you want,
but on what contributes very little, or nothing at all, to getting what you want.

Bad thinking.

What do i mean by bad thinking?

Well, basically it is thinking that contributes nearly nothing to achieving a
lasting, more intense state of happiness.

It is angry, emotional ranting and raving in your own mind.

It is visions of sadness and despair.

It is long lasting flights of fantasy about things you imagine yourself doing,
while you hardly ever do anything to try and actually get to do those things
in reality. So the only thing you really achieve is to feel good for a while,
but when you get back to reality and realize how your life really is, you will
eventually be unhappy again.

A few concrete example:

Seeing images in your mind that makes you sad or angry, things that affects
your mood in a negative way.

Thinking about difficult situations you might experience in the near or distant future.

Anger or regret about things that have happened to you in the past

Having imaginary fights and arguments with someone, maybe it is about
some conflict you have had in the past, maybe it is about conflicts you imagine
yourself having in the future.

Thinking about mistakes you have made and beating yourself up about it,
in stead of thinking rationally about what you can learn from it.

And even the damn songs you can't get out of your head. :)
This may be a little funny and not very
unusual, but i have found it many times to be very annoying and stressful.
I think it sorts under compulsive behavior, and if it gives you a negative feeling
it is certainly bad thinking.

Any other compulsive thought is also bad thinking, int the end it's doesn't contribute
to your life in any positive away.

So, are you doing this to some extent?

Think about it a little.

How much have you done this?

And what has it given you? Is there anything good in your life which has come
from it?

I have done this to the extreme, and putting it all together i don't even wanna
think about how much time i have wasted doing it.

So what should you do?
Should you simply stop these thoughts?

Well, yes. When you find yourself engaged is some pointless stream of consciousness
you should stop yourself.

But then what?
If you simply stop thinking, then you are simply sensing the world around you.

There is a void you need to fill with something.
So what should you try and fill it with?
Can there be a good away of making these little "mental detours"?

Well, of course there is:

Thoughts that give you a little boost of inspiration and motivation.
A sudden idea about something you want to do, something you want achieve,
a good argument on some topic , a good story you want to tell,
something funny you want to say, a business idea, a solution to a problem etc..

Something that gives you a good feeling because you know you can actually use
it to make your life better, and not simply a meaningless escape from reality.

But the most important thing is:

You should not let these thoughts damage your overall plan of achieving your goals,
on the contrary they should contribute to your quest of achieving the greater good.

You should stop yourself in time.

You can entertain the idea for a little while, elaborate on it a little, make it a
little clearer in your mind so that you will remember it.

It is a good idea to have a notebook, or
a voice-recorder or anything else you can use to make sure you don't forget it.

Then you can get back to it when you have the time and really work on it,
and ultimately the goal is of course to act on it, to make it happen.

Your mind is the tool you have to make you dreams come true, you should use
your mind to work for you, not as something to escape into.

But there is of course another very important point.

Negative thoughts are of course not necessarily about something which is
completely irrational. You may have fears about the future, about things you
will eventually have to do.Or you have unresolved emotional issues which
you will eventually have to sort out.

I am not talking about repression, i am not talking about putting every negative
thought out of your mind forever, because that is simply not going to work.

But you should put them aside, and only bring them out when you have
something which can contribute to their solution.Otherwise there is no point
of thinking about them, other then whatever short term emotional reward
you can get from it.

So, to sum up:

Stop the bad thinking that gives you nothing but a short term emotional satisfaction,
much of it doesn't even give you that, it only makes you feel worse.

Replace it with good thinking which contributes to achieving your goals,
and ultimately contributes to a longer lasting and more intense happiness.

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