YOU are the creator of reality

Do you ever find yourself asking “What the hell is going on?”?

I mean in general.

We have all these concepts. Life, reality, me, you, self, other, future, past. We talk about our property, our country, our family. We have names for all of this. But sometimes I feel like the naming and conceptualizing detracts from the actuality of what this is. Maybe I should say THIS, because I simply mean what there is.

What is going on?

What does it mean to be sentient, inhabiting a sack of flesh and bones, in this strange, strange place we call the earth? Does it have to mean anything?

I often find myself forgetting, for long stretches of time, just how weird all this is. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have nothing? To be nothing? Simpler, at least.

It’s so strange that anything can seem trivial. The mere existence of the most minuscule, unimportant thing is a miracle! The simple fact that something is here at all is a reason for wonder.

It’s very easy to overlook this fact.

We may all share this reality, but then again, our perceptions of said reality differ so vastly, that we might as well each be absolutely solipsistic.

And you never know. Are other people actually conscious? Or are they just pretending to be conscious, like characters in a dream. Or maybe they even believe that they’re independently conscious.

When I look around me I see an apartment. My apartment. I see potted plants, furniture of all shapes and sizes, electronics, food, picture frames. Cups, mirrors, lamps…

Most of this stuff is man made. They started off as ideas, or concepts, in somebody’s head. Their powers of creation made it solid. And here I am, enjoying these marvelous things without having any true idea of their origins.

Concepts are a funny thing. We make them up in our minds, or we learn them from somebody else, and then we glue them onto objects we encounter in the universe. Like when you put one of those cut-out cardboard celebrity faces over your own.

Then, having adequately labeled our surroundings, our reality, we promptly forget the true nature of what they are, and go on through life acting as if the concepts are the ultimate reality.

Like I said, it’s weird.

What does it mean though, for us normies? Concepts are incredibly useful, as are labels. They allow us to quickly understand what something is without having to constantly reexamine it. For example, because we have a concept of an apple in our minds after countless encounters, when we see one on the table we go right ahead and take a bite.

We don’t need to check if it’s edible, compare it to the other objects on the table, taste it, etcetera. It’s just an apple.

On the other hand, sometimes our conceptualizing is very limiting. Like when we label ourselves. We say that we’re depressed, we’re shy, we’re anxious, we’re lazy. These labels are probably true, some of the time, but nobody’s lazy all the time. We have moments when we’re shy, and then we have moments where we’re assertive.

Self-conceptualization is a major problem for people everywhere. Not only do we frame ourselves withing concepts, we also allow other people to frame us within concepts. And we do the same to them!

Sometimes this is necessary, like if somebody’s prone to violence, the label of thug is appropriate and may save us from a nasty encounter.

But more often than not, these labels limit us to a certain personality type, to certain actions, to certain behaviors. These behaviors may be destructive, humiliating, depressing. The power of social conceptualizing is such that breaking free from these imposed limitations can be a very daunting task.

In many ways, this is the work of meditation. We meditate in order to see reality as it is, not as we believe it to be.

Sometimes we get moments of clarity, often out of the blue. This is often related to the appearance of some sort of anomaly, like seeing a shooting star, or an explosion, or somebody dancing naked with a street lamp (actually saw this a few years back, it really sticks with you).

Sometimes it’s due to some kind of shock, like illness, an accident, or a betrayal. Something that disillusions you so much that it breaks down your model of reality. It can be traumatizing, and in fact, that’s what trauma is. Trauma is a veritable smashing of your reality tunnel, when you encounter something more unpleasant and unbearable than you previously thought possible.

When somebody you love dearly betrays you, your concept of them is shattered into pieces. You need to reevaluate them, you need to reevaluate your relationship to them, not only in the here and now, but past and future as well.

When you unexpectedly lose your health, you need to reconceptualize your mortality. You realize that you’re not indestructible, that in fact you might die today, or tomorrow.

In this way, concepts that have been helpful up until now may become crushingly incomplete in the future. That’s why we need to learn how to see clearly. To live a life of fulfillment and prosperity, we need to be prepared to change our perceptions of reality when the time comes.

There’s a great quote:

Life isn’t about avoiding the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Can’t remember who’s it is.

Isn’t that awesome?

Whoever we are, wherever we are, we are always susceptible to change. That’s the nature of being. Change is the only constant.

When we don’t acknowledge that change is possible, we become susceptible to trauma. Can you believe that a person could meet with a disabling accident, a chronic painful illness, or the death of a loved one with equanimity and peace?

No suppression of grief. No repressing emotions and acting like everything’s okay. We can partake in all these human emotions without letting ourselves be crushed by them.

Dancing in the rain is actually possible. Not pretending to have fun, mind you, but actually accepting the inevitability of crisis and taking it in. There will be storms in life. In fact, that’s what life is. A succession of storms. Some of them we manage to weather out quite nicely, but others will shake our foundations.

In the long run, learning to stay strong in the face of disaster may be the most important skill you ever develop.

My own life, though it hasn’t been perfect (whose is?), was relatively trauma free, up until a few years ago. I guess the most traumatic events in my life before the age of twenty-three were my parent’s divorce at around seven years old, and then successions of moving between cities and countries and new step-dads.

Which in itself has a deep impact on a kid, but being so young I didn’t have the skills or self-knowledge to actually work myself through that trauma until years later.

However, at twenty-three, my life changed forever. I was diagnosed with a chronic skin disease (Red Skin Syndrome) of terrifying proportions. I developed insomnia due to intense itchiness during the night, infections due to endless sores and cuts from scratching my skin raw, and massive psychological trauma.

It’s now been two and a half years since that fateful moment, and I’ve managed to improve my condition by at least 80%. I should clarify, that this disease is most likely temporary (2-5 years average), so a big part of my regained health is due to the passing of time.

However, I also believe that my own efforts for survival and betterment have been invaluable.

I started eating an absolutely clean, whole-foods diet. I cut out all sugars and carbs in general. Stopped smoking weed, stopped using pornography, started exercising as much as possible (although sweating is a real issue with this disease), started a steadfast meditation habit, started journaling a lot, and generally diagnosed everything that was holding me back in life and decided to remedy it as best I could.

Even though I knew there were things I couldn’t control, I decided to do everything I could control as well as humanly possible.

Taking responsibility for my circumstances in life has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It has also made me intensely grateful for the mere fact of my existence.

This life is a perpetual roller coaster. We slowly gain altitude in times of peace, and that’s when we have a chance to prepare ourselves in every way for the inevitable swooping, dizzying descent.

When we manage to prepare ourselves and overcome our fears of the inevitable crises, we can actually have fun, just like even the most terrifying roller coaster becomes exhilarating in the absence of fear.

So this brings us the question we posed in the beginning of this article:

What the hell is going on?

We exist, obviously, but why does it have to be so hard?

Why does life have to be so fraught with misery and suffering? Wouldn’t it be easier to just have the pleasant bits and smooth out the splinters and hang-nails?

Well, here’s a profound insight for you: Good is only possible when it’s balanced with bad. Pleasure is only possible when it’s balanced with pain, in the same way up is only possible with the inevitable down.

We live in a reality of opposing extremes. Everything has an opposite, because without it, nothing would have meaning.

It doesn’t take a lot of pondering to see that this is absolute truth.

What this means is simple. Without the dark times, there would be no happiness. Without suffering, there would be no bliss. Without nothing, there could be no something.

When you truly realize this, and take it to heart, you’ll find that you start appreciating what’s wrong in your life. You may not welcome pain, but you start to see its value.

Another thing to consider, is that as there are categorical opposites, like pleasure and pain, up and down, light and dark, there is also an element of opposites within the effects of each category.

This will take some explaining.

When you get into a boating accident, fall into the middle of the pacific, a shark bites your leg of, and then you’re pulled out by your ship-mates, that seems pretty Sh**ty. And it is.

But no matter how terrifying and negative an event is, there is always something to be learned, some insight to be gained. And the value of said insight will be as positive as the event was negative, and vice versa.

It’s impossible to know in advance what the silver lining will be. In the example above, the most obvious positive insight will be your increased compassion for amputees. Your increased awareness of danger and of your own mortality. Expanded awareness, in other words.

There can be zounds of hidden positive aspects to negative events, it all depends on how you decide to react to them. A mountain can be teeming with gold nuggets, but if nobody thinks to look for them, they’re worthless. In the same way, there can be veritable jewels of insight hidden within a break-up, accident, illness, or death, but if you don’t focus on them, they might as well not be there at all.

I know it’s difficult to think this way. Illness is incredibly unpleasant and often painful, and there’s no way around that. But as you take responsibility for that pain and discomfort, you are in a better position to mine the insights and become aware of ways to make up for it. It’s a process, but it can be done.

We are creators of meaning.

Even if we don’t intend to be. We create meaning through the simple virtue of our humanity. It’s what being human entails. And we may not be aware of this, but we get to choose the meaning we apply to anything at all.

It takes self-knowledge, and it takes contemplation of the nature of reality and consciousness. But when we gather together the simple truths and laws of the universe, of human nature, we can effectively change our reality.

And that, my friends, is magic.

 

The awesome power of NoFap

Wow. This last month has been intense for me.

Thirty-two days ago I installed an application on my phone, tablet and pc, called Accountable2you.

As per its name, it’s an accountability program, which just means that it keeps me from viewing material online that I’ve decided I don’t want to use.

In my case, I’m using it to overcome the compulsion to watch porn. It’s working really well, in fact.

I’ve installed filters on my pc before, and though some of them work reasonably well, circumventing them is just a matter of time.

With this program, if I search for porn, it sends the exact links I searched for straight to my girlfriend. Yikes!

So no more midget goat porn for me.

The reason I’m writing about this now is because I’ve been experiencing something I wasn’t really expecting.

As my compulsion to search for pornographic material has decreased, I’ve found myself having way less compulsively sexual thoughts, too.

I’ve been using porn since puberty, and I just thought the constant sexual fantasies were just a by-product of being male. After only thirty days of no porn, I feel like there’s 80% less sexual thoughts in my head throughout the day.

That’s really weird for me! I thought I just had an overactive libido.

It seems to me that the input determines the output. Years of filling my brain with pornographic images made it so that my brain started churning out pornographic thoughts non-stop.

After I’ve finally managed to remove porn from my life, it’s obvious to me that this is the case.

It wasn’t so obvious a month ago, I can tell you that.

So the major side effect of this reduced sexual fantasy is a reduction in the urge to masturbate. Today is day 9 since I last had an orgasm, and I’m feeling it. Definitely feeling it.

It may not seem like such a long time, but to a (hopefully ex-) compulsive porn addict like myself, it feels like a year. Since puberty, I’ve only once managed a month without porn, and never more than nine or ten days without ejaculating.

I’ve known about the community called NoFap for years. I’ve often read posts on the SubReddit and watched Youtube videos from those who swear by it, but I always thought it was mostly bro-science.

Fapstronauts (practitioners of NoFap, in case you haven’t guessed) talk about “rebooting” their minds by abstaining from PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm) for 90 days.

What I found most interesting about the community, though, was the insistence that once on NoFap you would start to receive so-called superpowers.

Powers like laser focus, supercharged energy, incredible confidence, especially around women, no more brain fog, better skin, more muscle, nicer hair and more beard growth, as well as spiritual benefits.

I’ve always been a pretty skeptical dude, so I pretty much thought this was all wishful thinking. How could any of this stuff be true?

Well, in my very limited experience, I’ve definitely noticed increased energy and drive, physical strength and endurance, a clearer mind, and minor increases in self-confidence.

I’m just getting started though. I feel like now that I’ve finally found a way to put a stop to my addictive porn use, my ability to restrain myself from other destructive habits has increased as well.

It’s as if my will power is getting stronger.

I’m willing and able, finally, to start this experiment on myself instead of listening to other people.

In ancient traditions, semen is considered the life essence, the ultimate creative force.

Considering this is the longest I’ve gone without busting a nut, I’m not qualified to talk about the full benefits of being abstinent for long periods of time, especially using methods of sexual transmutation.

My own direct experience is all I’m willing to divulge. That’s what this blog is all about. Me sharing what I’ve learned on my life’s journey with the world.

Funnily enough, as the days have gone by, my motivation for working on the Joy of Awareness has increased tremendously. I’ve been writing a lot, as well as researching ways for improving the site itself.

The urge to create more seems to be increasing with every day of semen retention. Which is pretty congruent with the label of a creative force, to be fair.

Stories abound of great men who’ve attributed much of their success to their ability to restrain themselves from wasting their vital energies in the bedroom, alone or with a partner.

Which brings me to my next point, SEX!

We all love sex, right? Sex is awesome. One of the most incredible activities known to man, woman, and any combination thereof.

I’ve tried having sex without ejaculating a few times, and while difficult, it can be done. The sensations of staying on the edge of orgasm for longer than I’m used to are very intense.

There are all kinds of sexual practices, some of them very ancient and well developed, like tantra, karezza, and the taoist sexual practices, that talk about exactly this. Learning to have sex without the compulsive need to ejaculate.

And funnily enough, the benefits listed in these practices, superpowers, if you will, are the same superpowers listed by fapstronauts.

I find all this stuff immensely interesting, and I feel like I’ve finally started to understand the value of sexual energy, not as something that needs to be tapped off regularly, but rather as something that can be harnessed, transmuted and directed at will.

Energy that can be used to develop yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

Energy that can allow you to create wealth, abundance, and power for yourself and others.

Energy that is at the heart of being human, the stuff that you’re essentially made of.

I’ve written about my addiction to pornography at length before, check out my series on the root of pornography addiction, for example.

In that series, I felt like I had been able to pinpoint anxiety as the root for my addiction.

I still believe that’s so, but with an extra twist: Anxiety was the root of my porn addiction, but after the addiction became full fledged, the addiction itself had become the root of my anxiety.

I definitely feel reduction of anxiety after these thirty days of no porn. I can only anticipate an even further reduction, and let me tell you, I am not going to miss it.

When you think about it, internet porn is an incredibly unnatural thing. Video after video of sweaty genitals and often violent depictions of the inherently beautiful sex act. Endless variety, endless levels of intensity.

When you grow up with something, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

Sugar, video games, television, even hot water. There are so many things that are artificial, that we have created as humans, often to make life easier or better in some ways, that end up being taken completely for granted.

Many of these things, like a reliable source of hot water, are an incredible boon and a very useful tool in life.

Others may have seeming benefits at first, if only for pleasure or entertainment purposes, but may carry all kinds of risk and negative side effects. Think sugar, MMORPG video games, and television. Alcohol and cigarettes are another example.

For me, internet porn has always been there.

My dad may have grown up with Playboy and Hustler, but I’m sure my grandfather hardly ever saw any pornographic material, and it would have been hard for him to get his hands on it without social shaming if he had been looking for it in the first place.

Having been inundated, saturated with porn as an adolescent, I’ve been holding the belief as an adult that this was a totally natural state of affairs. Society even tells us it’s healthy. Constantly!

The whole bit about porn being a part of female sexual liberation, about daily masturbation being good for the male prostate, about portraying sexuality in ever baser details in television, movies and advertising, and this being somehow all good stuff.

It sickens me. Really.

Sex is as natural a part of being human as anything. It’s a wonderful thing. But it’s also sacred, in some sense. It’s not something that should be so easily bandied about, so easily available without even the tiniest trace of love and dedication.

As my relationship to my own sexuality becomes healthier and clearer, it becomes ever more obvious to me that something is absolutely amiss in this sexually manic society. We’re obsessed with sex, but only as empty pleasure.

I don’t want to sound like I’m proselytizing (at least not to much).

It’s one of those things that, when you see it, you really see it. Everywhere. And it makes you sick to your stomach that somehow the majority of other people seem to not see it. Or at least they ignore it.

It’s not that society is evil, or that there’s some kind of conspiracy (though you never know), to my mind it seems that something is wrong, sick, diseased, in our culture.

That’s a cliché, I know, but I happen to think it’s also true.

When I think of my eighteen-year-old self, when I remember my thought patterns at the time, my beliefs about the world, my faith in society to tell me what’s best for me and everyone else, it drives me crazy. Or not really, but I feel like it should.

I’ve come a long way since then, thankfully.

I seem to be finally heading the schooner that is my life in the right direction.

When it comes down to it, society isn’t really anything but a concept. It’s a collection of people, just like you and me. It can’t fairly be blamed for anything. In fact, I suggest that you put the concept of blame aside for now. Decide to take full responsibility for yourself, your life.

It doesn’t mean that you’re at fault for what’s wrong with you or your circumstances. It means that you’ve decided to take the power of change into your own hands.

Responsibility is power. The power to change. You can change everything about anything. Your mind is more powerful than a hundred million hydrogen bombs. You just don’t know how to use it.

NoFap is a way to learn how. Don’t let the funny name turn you off. Call it Brahmacharya. Call it conscious celibacy or abstinence. Call it sex transmutation.

Just become aware of the fact that your sexual energy is the most powerful force in the universe.

I kid you not.

Let yourself be open to the idea that you are more than the sum of your parts. You have powers beyond your wildest dreams. By virtue of your humanity, you are endlessly valuable. You are a treasure-trove of potential, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

I’m just getting started with sex transmutation. I’ve dabbled with it in the past, didn’t go so well. My heart just wasn’t in it. My mind was foggy, as if going through life drugged or tied down. I’m in a much better place now. More enlightened, clearer and more focused. There is so much to life that I can’t even imagine.

I feel my potential. I feel my potential to create vast wealth and abundance for myself and everyone I love. What’s required is a little sacrifice. Well, it’s actually a great sacrifice.

To harness the sexual energy, the life force, we need to be ready to sacrifice empty pleasure. Orgasm feels awesome, but as men, it also drains us. Ever tried working out after ejaculating more than once? It makes you weak.

If you are able and willing to sacrifice your urge to ejaculate, you may be able to tap into something higher, something greater. That’s the path I’ve chosen.

Stay tuned to the Joy of Awareness, cause things are about to get real.

Your life force is your birth right. Treat it with respect and the rewards will be astronomical.

Take it easy.

The most effective way of overcoming depression

Throughout my life, starting shortly before puberty, I’ve had episodes of deep depression. Depression is common. Most of us have first hand knowledge of it, or somebody close to us does.

The mind is incredible. It learns to process data from this crazy reality incredibly efficiently, to make life easier and more fulfilling.

This attribute of the mind is what allows us to use language, tools, run from danger, think rationally and so on. But as with all things, it has two sides.

The mind is incredibly good at developing habits. Whatever it repeatedly does, it gets better at, and whatever it is becomes easier.

The dark side of this aspect of the mind is that while we can and do develop useful and good habits, we also develop negative habits that hold us back.

In my experience, depression is the result of the highly negative habit of dwelling on unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or events.

These thoughts, emotions, and events almost always originate from our memories of the past or predictions (speculations) about the future.

Depression can only arise when we’re overly focused on the past or future.

The reasons for depression are simple, but dealing with it is anything but.

As anyone who’s had to deal with bouts of severe depression can tell you, getting out of the negative thought patterns that arise seems absolutely impossible.

Whatever our circumstances, whether we’re chronically ill, or we feel stuck in life, or we feel unloved, or whatever they may be, our reaction to them is a choice.

A difficult choice, to be sure. When I was dealing with a horrific illness for the last two years, choosing to be unhappy and depressed was way easier than choosing to be happy.

In fact, choosing to be happy at that point was impossible for me, because I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I had a choice.

As the saying goes, you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. We don’t choose our circumstances, fate does. But we do choose the way we react to the cards that fate deals us.

So this is kind of a paradox.

Am I saying that people who are depressed are simply choosing to be depressed? In a sense I am, but it’s not that simple.

When we’re depressed, we are naturally inclined to be in that state. If we suffer misfortune or just sink into a pit of negative thought patterns, depression is the natural result. We feel like we have no choice.

As with all things, if we aren’t aware of the all of the possible choices presented to us at any given moment, the hidden choices might as well not exist.

Imagine a sparrow who for some reason thinks it’s a cat. It’s standing in the middle of the road, and a car is speeding towards it. It’s too late for the sparrow’s short legs to run out of the way, so he should just fly straight up, right?

Well, remember, he thinks he’s a cat. He isn’t aware that he has the choice of flying out of the way.

So he gets hit by a car.

Surreal allegory aside, we humans are worth more, capable of more than most of us could ever imagine.

We have such inherent power that it’s hard to believe.

We can literally change reality with our thoughts. We imagine something, and then we create it.

We are creators.

When we’re suffering from depression, we’ve forgotten our true natures, and we’ve become ignorant of our powers of change and creation.

In the spirals of self-doubt and destructive thought patterns, we’re unaware of our capacity to change our circumstances.

Depression is characterized by a dreadful feeling of utter hopelessness. Hopelessness towards the future, jaded with regards to the past, and ignorance of the present moment.

Why do I say we’re ignorant of the present moment when we’re depressed? Surely we’re feeling the pains of depression in this very moment?

That much is certainly true. The pain of depression is our only anchor to the present moment, but we ignore it. We ignore the sensations of the present in exchange for ruminations on the past and future.

We project our current circumstances into the future, and we dwell on the mistakes of the past.

This causes pain in the present, but as it goes untended, it stays unresolved.

The way to overcome emotional pain is to fully feel it.

When we decide not to run away from our pain with our medication of choice, be it a substance, porn, TV, sugar, cigarettes, sex, whatever, and instead we sit down and consciously feel what’s going on in the here and now, our depression will start to lift.

Keep in mind, this is a process.

This is in no way a quick fix. It is, however, a permanent fix. Or at least a permanent tool, which can be used as effectively in future bouts of depression.

So what are we doing here?

There’s a term for this process: mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the act of remaining aware of the present moment. Remaining aware of whatever you’re doing here and now.

There are a myriad benefits to practicing mindfulness, such as reduced stress, clarity of mind, stability of mood and, for the purposes of this article, lifting of depression.

I feel like mindfulness has a lot of woo surrounding it, even these days, when it’s become a popular word often thrown around in the spiritual, self-help or even fitness communities.

There’s really nothing supernatural about it (well, I guess it depends on what you call natural). Calling it a method or an activity is a bit misleading, since in itself, mindfulness isn’t a doing, but rather a being.

What I mean by this is that you can be mindful at all times, whatever it is that you’re doing.

You can be mindful of walking, eating, talking, thinking, writing, having sex. getting drunk, your emotions, bodily sensations, any mode of operating as a human entity.

Being mindful is being aware of what you’re doing, feeling, and thinking.

You don’t do mindfulness.

When we get sucked into that headspace, that gnawing negative thought cycle, it feels like we can never get out. It feels like resistance is futile.

The longer we allow the state of depression to drag us down, the more complacent we become, and the more difficult it becomes to get out of the pit of despair. Believe me, I know.

I should say that for me, mindfulness hasn’t been the cure for my depression, but more of a catalyst.

When I managed to become truly mindful of my mental state, and then made that awareness into a habit, I proactively started to research ways of making myself feeling better.

I researched all kinds of exercise, diets, breathing techniques, meditation techniques, psychology, and environment design, in order to set up a life that would be conducive to happiness, health, and fulfillment.

This is key.

Use mindfulness to break the depressive state. Then, before it manages to close in on you again, develop a new habit.

You may already be meditating, or eating relatively healthy, or you may be the worlds laziest couch potato with not a single good habit to talk about.

Whatever your circumstances, they can most certainly be improved.

If you don’t already meditate regularly, that’s the habit I would recommend you instill first. The benefits of regular meditation are so enormous that they outweigh all else.

After meditation, I would recommend cleaning up your diet and exercising, starting a journal, and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, in that order.

There are plenty of other great habits to start, like deep breathing, cold showers, nofap, and so much more.

But don’t get overwhelmed!

The key here is to start small. Trying to kick-start a two-hour-daily meditation habit from the get-go is a recipe for disaster.

Trying to start a habit of writing five pages in your journal will meet a similar fate.

Listen, always start according to your circumstances. If you’re physically ill, starting an intense exercise regimen won’t be a good bet. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise though!

Go for a walk, do some pushups, and for god’s sake, do it in nature if you possibly can.

The internet is more than saturated with information on everything. Be selective, but be persistent. Research everything that could possibly help you work through your depression and into a more stable, happy mode of being.

Sustained well-being is actually possible! You may not believe it, but it’s true. There are people, sharing this same reality, who feel good almost all the time.

If nothing else, you should strive to be one of them.

After you get the hang of being mindful of your state of being, you should never stop.

You should aim for mindfulness to be your default. Mindfulness is the key to sustained well-being. It’s not the only thing to strive for, but it’s one of the most important.

When I first discovered mindfulness, I might as well have been sleep-walking in life.

I wasn’t aware of anything.

Everything was foggy, everything was unclear.

Life happened to me, rather than me actively participating in life. It’s stunning to me, looking back on my life, how much time I’ve spent being hardly conscious of my own existence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being mindful every second of every day, but that is what I’m aiming for. It’s hard work, rewiring your brain that way.

You must learn to become mindful of your thought patterns.

This is probably the most important aspect to overcoming depression.

Take time out of your day to just sit down, and after a brief warm up of mindful breathing, move your awareness to your thought-space.

This feels weird at first, if you’ve never been consciously aware of this space before, but you’ll get used to it, and you’ll probably come to love it.

The thought space is that place in your mind where your thoughts pop up.

Notice that you don’t actually generate your thought, though you can do that with conscious effort. Rather, thoughts come to you.

This point is important. The thoughts that come to you are the results of mental habit.

With conscious effort, these thought patterns can be changed. If you’re often feeling depressed, chances are your thought patterns are generally highly negative.

This is obviously not good. The first step to changing this is becoming mindful of the thoughts themselves.

The thing is, we think we’re conscious. I mean, here I am, right?

We’re actually semi-conscious, most of the time, at best.

We’re on autopilot, almost all the time. We’re creatures of habit. We find a routine, and we stick to it like spaghetti to a wall.

The art of becoming conscious of our unconsciousness is the path to happiness and fulfillment.

Be mindful of your thoughts, and notice what’s going through your mind. Don’t try to change anything yet. Just becoming aware is half the battle.

Be especially aware of thoughts pertaining to yourself.

Now that you actually know what you’re thinking about yourself, it’s time to instill a habit of changing these thoughts as they arise.

The two absolute most effective ways of training yourself to do this is starting a journal and writing in it every day, and affirmations.

Check out the posts I linked to above, and then research some more online. Knowledge is power, my friend.

This is an uphill battle. Maybe even a up-mountain battle. But it’s the most worthwhile battle you can ever undertake. The battle for your sanity.

Collectively, we need to take responsibility for ourselves.

We need to realize that, while circumstances may be crappy, while our bodies may not be functioning properly, while we may be battered, beaten and betrayed, we can still take responsibility for our reactions to life.

This means doing everything we possibly can to improve our lot in life.

Small steps, by all means. Just a little bit at a time. But every single day, seek to make your life just a tiny bit better.

I hope with all my heart that this article will help somebody climb out of the horrific pit of despair that is depression.

Know that I feel your pain, and I know it’s hard, but you can overcome this

 

When life gets confusing, this is what you need to understand

As winter approaches, I feel like I’m getting old. Not so much physically, with the wrinkles, aches, and white hair, but more so mentally.

I feel like the illusions of youth have been shattered to some degree.

Listen, I’m only 26. I’m not old by any stretch of the word. But what I want to write about today is seeing through illusions.

Recognizing our models of reality for what they are.

The thing with illusions is, well, you don’t know they’re illusions until you go beyond them.

Life to me seems to be a sequential trading of one illusion for another. As a baby, we understand nothing apart from our own satisfaction/pain/discomfort/hunger, and our mother’s voice and breast.

Anyone seeing the baby from the outside is aware of the baby’s illusion, that the world is in fact infinitely larger and more interesting than baby can ever imagine, but we don’t try to explain this to the baby.

We know that with time, experience, and maturation the baby will experience this expansion of consciousness for itself.

The reason I feel old today, is that I’ve become aware of this part of the nature of human experience.

I may not know the absolute truth of reality, but I do know that I don’t know the absolute truth of reality. If that makes any sense.

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

Socrates

This knowledge, however trivial it may seem, has been changing my life. Knowing that I don’t know, that I can’t know anything for sure, is a double-edged blade.

On the one hand, it’s a bit sad. My models of reality become pretty meaningless, everything seems a bit confusing and ephemeral. On the other, it frees up a lot of energy. Mental space.

Skórlitlir

Knowing that my models of reality are not absolute allows me to apply the energy that I used to use for keeping them up and running, to other things.

Now, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak (does that saying terrify anybody else or is it just me?).

Even though a model of reality isn’t absolute truth, it may still be applicable, or even useful.

A model that’s not absolutely true, in other words, may still be true enough.

“I don’t believe anything, but I have many suspicions.”

– Robert Anton Wilson

True enough to keep you fit and healthy, along with your relationships. True enough to find happiness and fulfillment.

We live in this ever-eddying, swirling, constantly up-down, in-and-out, ever present experience we collectively call the world or reality.

I have no idea if anybody has discovered a truth to this thing, or if it’s even possible.

What I do know, is that some peeps have models of reality that move them forward, and others have models that hold them back.

The nihilist who sees only the bleakest side of every experience isn’t occupying a different reality than the optimist who strives to see the good instead of the bad.

They’re both here, now, right?

They’ve chosen different models of reality to live by, that’s all.

“We are happy when people or things conform and unhappy when they don’t. People and events don’t disappoint us, our models of reality do. It is my model of reality that determines my happiness or disappointments.”
Stefan Zweig

I’m not saying that blind optimism and denial of the pain of the world is a good thing, because it’s not. Nor am I saying you should be nihilistic. Not at all.

Both world views have their pros and cons. The nihilist will be way less likely than the optimist to blindly trust a malevolent stranger, for example. The optimist will be way more likely than the nihilist to grab a rare opportunity that presents itself to them.

But neither model is true. And both have serious drawbacks.

These are simple examples. Most of us don’t have a label we can apply to us. Nobody’s a pure nihilist or a pure optimist.

Our models, our reality tunnels, are an amalgamation of whatever experiences and influences we’ve encountered throughout our lives.

We’re cynical about some aspects of life, optimistic about others.

We’re open to new experiences in some realms of experience, and we’re closed off in others.

We react with love in some instances, and fear in others.

I think building a model of reality that’s absolutely true is a fool’s errand, to be totally honest.

I can hear the rationalists gasping in disbelief, the religious among you shouting “blasphemy!”.

What’s more, I think trying to build an absolute model of reality is a waste of energy. There are more important things to do.

“There is but one reality, that is true — but the two of you experience it in slightly different ways. The older you get, I should think, the more you will come to understand that the universe is very much a looking glass, Miss Lancaster.”               Jim Butcher, The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Accepting the fact that you don’t know what the hell is going on, as well as the fact that you may never know, will set you free.

Earlier in this article I stated that whatever our reality tunnel may look like, we all inhabit the same reality. This statement is arguable at best.

Do I inhabit the same reality as a fish? Or a snail? Or a piece of glass?

How do we actually define reality? Does reality exist without someone to experience it? Is there such a thing as an objective reality?

In other words, if a tree falls in the woods and there’s nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Realizing that reality is fundamentally subjective, and not objective, has been a huge step for me in not only formulating a more precise model of reality, but in becoming a happier, more fulfilled, conscious human being.

This brings me to an incredibly salient hypothesis called consciousness first.

It’s very simple really, and goes hand in hand with Occam’s razor. In fact, it’s the neatest, simplest explanation of reality that I’ve ever encountered:

Consciousness is the point from which all reality arises.

There can be no object without subject.

In the history of the world, nobody has experienced anything objectively. How could they? Experience in itself entails consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing is.

“Nothing” is really an overstatement. The term “No-thing” is more appropriate. The former implies the absence of “something”. The latter implies the absence of “thing”.

“Nothing” is a concept. A concept is a thing. “Nothing” can be experienced as a concept, “No-thing” can’t be experienced at all. In the absence of consciousness, no-thing is.

If that doesn’t make your head spin the first time you think about it, congratulations!

This all ties into the nature of illusion. When we realize that out entire reality is subjective, springing out of consciousness rather than containing it, the possibilities for experience and growth become limitless.

Unninlitil

What I’m saying is, life is a dream. A dream is the most famously illusory state of mind known to man, but as you realize the fact that life itself is illusory as well, it changes your idea of what’s real.

If life is a dream, or an illusion, does it necessarily make it any less real?

But then we’re lead to our next question, which is this: If life is real despite being an illusion, then how can we say that dreams are any less real than life?

The thing is, all experience is as real as it can possibly be!

If you experience something, anything, it can’t be experienced any more or any less than it actually was. In fact, that statement would be meaningless.

Everything that arises in consciousness, arises in consciousness. And that’s that.

So in that sense, any experience is real.

Okay, so that’s pretty interesting, but how is this practical in any way? How can this knowledge improve your life?

Well, when we stop fussing over reality, over what’s real and what’s not, we can actually start having some fun with experience. We can decide to enjoy and learn from all experience equally.

Meaning is to be found in anything. Humans are creators of meaning. Meaning isn’t inherent to anything, instead it’s our minds that imbue experience with meaning.

Notice that I said experience. Not item, place, person or teaching. In the end, all concepts, all things, all people and all places are only as real as they are experienced, meaning as the appear in consciousness.

Listen, having fun with experience is all well and good, but it doesn’t seem practical in this world to just take any old dream or hallucination for reality. Does it?

Absolutely not. This human experience has rules, laws. We need to follow those laws if we want to keep playing this game. Fair enough?

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be aware of the fact that we’re playing it.

You know when you play monopoly and you get so sucked into the game that you start to act and feel like you’re actually a millionaire? That the plastic houses and fiat currency are actually real and valuable? Even though at the end of the evening, it all goes back into the box?

Take it a step up. When you inevitably die, all your possessions, friends, personal attributes will go straight back into the box. Sound familiar?

Now imagine two players of monopoly. One of them’s so engrossed in the game that he’s forgotten his existence outside of it.

“A person who plays the game knowing he will win, doesn’t impress me as much as the person who plays the game even though he knows that he might lose.”                 N’Zuri Za Austin

He follows the rules because they’re all he knows, and he builds up an empire of hotel chains and real estate because that’s where you get meaning in monopoly.

The other guy does everything the same as the first player, with one difference: He still remembers his existence outside of the game.

When things start to go badly for him in the game, he reminds himself of the piece of cake he has waiting for him in the fridge. He’s not attached to the outcome. At least not in the same way as the other player.

If the first player loses the game, his entire universe (seemingly, to him) crumbles down all around him. His clinging will make him irrational and prone to stupid error.

The second player, although he may be enjoying the game immensely, will be cool and detached enough to see what’s actually going on, and the fear of losing will not be all consuming.

This is enlightenment.

When you get that life is a game, everything changes, even though everything actually stays the same.

The buddha saw through all illusion, maya, and that’s why he was called an enlightened one.

Seeing through the illusion of separateness, of subject and object, of self and other, is a noble goal. But even getting a glimpse of what’s on the other side of the curtain can change your life forever.

In my case, a lot of meditation, psychedelics, and a chronic illness all worked together to get me to the point where I could peak behind the curtains and see the truth.

Then I put the curtain back and went on with my life. But I will never forget what was on the other side, even if it can’t be conceptualized, or much less put into words.

There are ways to see beyond the illusory nature of reality. In fact, there are plenty of ways. I’ve written many posts on this site detailing them. But they all have something in common: work and dedication.

You need to be prepared to work for the glimpse. You need to want it enough.

When you take that drive, that need to see beyond the veil, all doors will be open to you.

6 ways porn is stopping you from living the good life

Watching porn seems to be a perfectly acceptable activity in modern days. It’s not spoken of in polite conversation, but come on, we all know what’s going on.

I’m guessing almost everybody over the age of 18 in the western world has watched porn at some point or another. It would be hard not to. It’s everywhere.

Here’s something that’s not too obvious about porn. It’s a drug.

It’s not a leaf that you smoke, or a powder that you snort, or a liquid that you drink or inject, so it doesn’t really fit our traditional concept of a drug.

But what it lacks in material characteristics, it makes up for with effects on brain and body.

Just check out the research cited on Your brain on porn to find out that the effects of cocaine or heroin addiction on the brain and the effects of porn addiction are more or less the same.

Without further ado, here are six ways porn is holding you back:

1. It builds up toxic shame

When you do something secretive, like furtively slithering into the nearest bathroom stall to jerk off to porn, you will certainly feel shame.

If you make it a habit, that shame builds up.

Toxic shame will affect all aspects of your life, but most noticeably your relationships, your motivation, and your self-confidence.

You will feel guilty and shameful around others, if subconsciously, and you’ll feel like you are worthless as a human being.

This results in social anxiety which can become very severe, depending on how long you’ve been using porn and how intensively.

If you’re reading this, chances are you yourself are addicted to porn, or someone close to you is. You’ll know what I’m talking about.

This crippling social anxiety leads to the next point, which is:

2. It pushes you into depression

We humans are a gregarious bunch. Healthy social relationships are imperative to our well-being and sense of fulfillment.

When we feel anxious around other people, that’s bad enough. Many of us have felt pangs of social anxiety in our lives, because it’s a natural response to difficult or novel social experiences.

But when that feeling intensifies, and becomes perpetual, and it becomes so bad that you start avoiding other people and social gatherings, that’s when some real problems can arise.

We need other people. No man is an island. How true.

When we don’t connect with others, we sink into despair. We may not even understand exactly what’s wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that we feel pretty sh**ty.

Now allow a person to wallow in this sorry state for long enough, and you’ll have a case of severe depression.

It may be difficult to connect the dots. I know it certainly eluded me for a long, long time.

As years have gone by, and the more I’ve read about psychology and the nature of addiction, it all started to become more and more obvious to me.

Do yourself a favor, if you’re suffering from pornography addiction: Study your affliction.

Learn all there is to learn about it, and from there make a game plan on how to overcome it. Don’t let yourself become complacent.

In today’s society of Prozac and Netflix, it’s easier than ever to avoid facing the truth.

Become aware of the fact that avoidance is not helping you.

3. It skews your perception of reality

My generation was the first generation that grew up with high-speed internet porn.

Right before I hit puberty, I started getting my sex education from hardcore, degrading scenes, demeaning to both men and women.

From there it slowly increased until it reached a tipping point when I was twenty-one.

At that point, I was constantly undressing everyone mentally, men and women. I would ask myself how many guys a girl had had sex with, or I would imagine orgies upon orgies next door or down the street.

Porn had given me a sense of reality that was so twisted, so far removed from what was actually normal, that it seems unbelievable to me now.

I didn’t view other people as, well, people. I viewed them as objects. Sexual objects. I saw them through the lens of hardcore pornography.

The mass media in western societies tries to paint us a certain picture of reality, which seems to be closely linked to the porn industry. All advertisements seem to portray sexual fantasies of some sort, and so do movies and TV.

Just to make this clear, I am in no way saying that people shouldn’t be having sex. I love sex. Loads of sex. All kinds of sex, between willing people.

That’s not really the issue.

What happens when you grow up thinking that everybody is constantly sleeping with everybody else, except you?

You’ll develop a sense of something being wrong. Obviously, your model of reality is at fault, but more often, we end up thinking that there must be something wrong with us.

And that’s the issue.

4. It feeds on your energy (and leaves you drained)

Anyone who’s binged on porn knows the feeling of utter depletion and lethargy after a marathon fapping session.

There’s so much stimulation, so much dopamine, that you become absolutely exhausted.

You know, there’s a famous study where rats were given two levers to pull, the first would deliver a piece of food, and the second would directly stimulate their brain’s pleasure circuits.

The male rats would end up pulling the second lever thousands of times per day, ignoring females in heat, food (even if they were starving) and even water (even when dying of thirst).

They were trapped in a cycle of super-stimulation.

Which is exactly what high-speed internet porn is. A single partner, however sexy, cannot compare to porn star after porn star after porn star.

There’s a concept in behavioral science called the Coolidge effect, named after U.S. president Calvin Coolidge. I won’t go into the story of the name, but the concept itself has to do with sexual selection.

When a male rat (in the case of this study) is presented with a willing female, he’ll copulate with her, take a rest, and then, god willing, he’ll go at it again.

But after a few times he’ll have had enough of her and start to look for something else to engage in.

However, when the same rat is presented with a succession of new female rats, he will keep going until the little guy collapses from exhaustion. What a life!

Again, this is exactly what porn does to the male mind. Partner after partner after partner (however pixelated and distant).

We can constantly look for novel sexual experiences through porn. You can watch hundreds of videos within an hour, with different actors and actresses each time.

This is devastating to our mammalian brains.

Which is why so many people who give up porn report a surge in energy.

It’s not so much that quitting porn gives you energy, it’s that porn has been draining it from you your entire adult life.

5. Other aspects of life become bleak and meaningless

When we’re stuck in a cycle of overstimulation or superstimulation, we start to feel that the stimulation is the only thing that matters.

Sex is one thing, but the intense superstimulation of high-speed internet porn is another.

We feel this to a lesser degree when we binge on a good television show or even when we become engrossed in a great book.

It’s the same principle, except with internet porn the effects are multiplied.

When I was at my worst with regards to using porn, nothing compared.

Wherever I was in life, whoever I met, whatever I was doing, no matter how interesting or enjoyable it should have been, the main priority in my mind was figuring out when I would get a chance to fap again.

It’s very sad, and fortunately today I’m in a much better place. Not perfect, but certainly a hundred times better than I’ve ever been.

Neurologically, what happens (and bear with me, I’m no neurologist) is that our brains become overly sensitive to the neurochemical dopamine.

Dopamine is the chemical responsible for motivation, excitement and anticipation. It’s not so much a feel good chemical as much as it is a motivator for seeking feel-good behavior.

What happens when we constantly overstimulate our dopamine receptors? They start to become less sensitive to dopamine, via a process called sensitization.

What this means is that you need more dopamine to feel the same amount of motivation or excitement as before.

So it becomes more difficult to find pornography to satisfy you, leading you to search for more intense, shocking scenes, but more importantly, other activities can no longer hold a candle to the dopamine explosions of porn.

Things like eating a tasty sandwich, going for a run, meeting up with friends, or going out of the house at all start to seem pointless.

The drive is gone, because the dopamine these activities normally produce just don’t cut it anymore for the sensitized brain.

Practically speaking, life loses its color.

6. It warps your sense of self (and your sexual identity)

When the brain has become sensitized to dopamine, vanilla porn is no longer enough to arouse you.

You start looking for more shocking, intense, or even brutal scenes. You may start to look for things that disgusted you before, or scenes that don’t match your sexual preferences.

And this can go on for years.

As you sink further into the dregs of the porniverse, you start to lose yourself. You start to think that your new, often disgusting preferences are just a part of who you are.

You may start to doubt your heterosexuality (or maybe your homosexuality), or your gender.

I’ve become so lost, and so confused as to who I was, that it drove me into deep depression and filled my day to day life with anxiety.

Fantasies of domination and of being dominated started to become very strong and overtook my thought processes many times a day.

It’s like compulsive porn use exaggerates the extremes of sexual fantasy.

Wherever I went, I couldn’t stop obsessing over my sexuality. In a healthy human being, sex is only a big deal when it’s available, or after long periods of abstinence. In the porn-riddled mind, sex is always on your mind.

I’m going to write a lot more about what I’ve learned about porn addiction, and other aspects of sexuality in the future. I also want to go over the necessary steps to overcoming this monster of an addiction.

Stay tuned.

 

 

5 reasons to be grateful right now

I tend to worry a lot about the future, about being good enough, about not being where I want to be.

I find it incredibly important and soothing to just remind myself how much good is in my life.

That doesn’t mean life can’t improve, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that need resolving.

But it means that you can cut yourself some slack, and just enjoy the positive for a change. Here are five reasons to be grateful right now:

1. You are capable of reading this article!

You have eyes that work. You’re literate. You probably have a smartphone or a PC to read this on. ‘Nuff said.

There are plenty of people who are blind, have had no opportunity to educate themselves, and who don’t own a single thing apart from the clothes they wear.

Not to make you feel guilty, but that’s definitely a reason to feel grateful.

2. You have time to read this article!

You have enough free time to browse the internet, searching for fulfilling articles and videos (or just to pass the time).

You’re not breaking your back in a coal mine from dawn to dusk like the peeps of 150 years ago.

You would have been lucky to get 6 hours of sleep per night, and there was no concept of minimum wage, workers’ rights or even workplace security!

So take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and head on to reason number three.

3. You’re not in danger of being attacked by a wild animal (hopefully)

There are a lot of problems in modern human society, but thankfully being mauled by a panther is not one of them. At least in the vast majority of cases.

One of the reasons for our perpetual state of stress and anxiety in life is our highly evolved biological system for evaluating danger and hopefully escaping it.

And a big part of that danger for our prehistoric ancestors were predators. Lions, tigers and bears. Maybe the odd dinosaur thrown in the mix.

So life may still be difficult, but at least we can not worry about being eaten alive.

4. You have access to the vast stores of information of the internet

You can learn about anything. There may be a lot of bad information, but with a little know-how, you can learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You can learn all there is to learn about engineering. Or medicine. Or psychology. You can study the history of philosophy, carpentry, plumbing, you name it.

University degrees are fine, but knowledge is power.

In all eras of human existence, up until the last twenty years or so, knowledge was incredibly limited, and as were the means of communicating it.

In the middle ages, if you wanted to learn to read, you had to either be one of the lucky 0.001% of people born into royalty, or you had to become a monk or nun.

And even then your reading would have been mostly limited to the bible and its derivatives (at least in Europe).

5. You are conscious

You have something, without which none of this would exist. You are a conscious being. You’re not a rock. You’re not empty space, or a rotting piece of wood.

You were fortunate enough to be born. You are a human being. Your potential for spiritual growth is limitless.

Whatever may be wrong in your life and in the world around you, know this: The fact that you’re here at all is the most valuable thing you will ever encounter.

There is so much to be achieved with consciousness. Infinite possibilities reside in the human incarnate.

It’s quite easy to forget this simple fact, to feign ignorance about it. But your value as a conscious being cannot be overstated.

Each of us live in our own reality. We play the main role of existence, each one of us. We have our ups and downs, and we have a purpose to fulfill.

This is a game. A long, complicated game.

We can certainly be grateful for the chance to play it at all.

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3 ways to supercharge your self-discipline (that may surprise you)

In recent years, I’ve managed to become very disciplined in my life.

If there’s something that needs doing, I rarely procrastinate any more.

I don’t call in sick due to laziness or lethargy, I don’t skip workouts, I don’t skip meditation sessions.

I still want to improve my discipline even more in the coming weeks, months, and years, but I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.

In fact, just yesterday I was comparing my way of thinking with today’s, and it’s just amazing.

And to be honest, I know exactly what made the most difference in building this habit of discipline.

Here are the three things, in reverse order of importance, that I’ve done to become more disciplined in the last few years:

1. Decide to do everything as well as you possibly can

When I started to strive for excellence in all aspects of my life, meaning not only the things I found important, but also menial, tedious, and boring things like doing the dishes, hanging up laundry, cleaning toilets, sweeping floors, clipping toenails, everything.

What this really implies is that you put your full attention on whatever it is you need to do right now.

Another name for this concept?

Mindfulness.

When I started to become mindful of even the least exciting activities in my life, and attempting to do them as well as I could, a funny thing happened:

I started getting better results with the things that were actually most enjoyable and most important in my life.

I wasn’t really expecting that to happen, to be honest, so as you can imagine I was pretty thrilled with the results. And I still am.

So apply yourself fully to whatever is at hand, even if it’s dirty work, even if you wish you were doing something else. Do it as well as you can and that discipline will seep into all aspects of your life.

2. Start a journal

This may not seem very related to developing stronger discipline, but in fact it’s one of the most effective methods I’ve discovered for doing just that.

What happens when you start a journal, at first, is nothing comes out.

You try to write, you may even sincerely want write, but you just don’t know what to write.

I know that’s what happened when I started keeping a journal.

There was a definite learning curve, to be sure, but once the journaling wheel starts rolling there’s no stopping it.

In my life, keeping a journal has become a self-perpetuating entity. What I mean by that is that it’s become so instrumental to keeping my life on track that stopping is no longer an option.

Quitting journaling would be paramount to quitting life at this point.

And we can’t have that.

So what should you write about?

Well, dig in there. Start by writing just what you’re thinking. Or what you think you’re thinking. Do that for a full page, even two.

Now you’ve gotten in the groove, start figuring out what’s weighing down on you.

Everyone, at all points in life, will have some problems or issues that need resolving, or aspects of themselves or their relationships that need improving. Without that, life would be just about meaningless.

But the thing is, if you don’t know what’s wrong, how can you possibly expect to know what needs to be done?

You see, in many cases, procrastination is simply a result of not knowing what needs to be done or why it should be done in the first place.

It’s been many years since I started keeping a journal, and I’ve kept many kinds. Voice recorders, digital journals, and plain old paper.

They all work, and each has its advantages.

Although it’s been a long time since I started, I still clearly remember many instances where I solved major life issues (or at least figured out what needed to be done, which is half the battle) just by writing about it enough.

Relationships that needed ending, bad habits that needed to be rooted out, thought patterns that needed optimizing or disintegration.

Journaling is the best way I’ve found for life optimization.

It’s like defragmenting your mind. Like alphabetizing the file cabinet of your brain.

It let’s you discover what’s important and what’s not, and what needs letting go, and what needs letting in.

So find 15 minutes every day to write down what’s going through your mind, and reap the benefits.

3. Daily meditation

I left meditation until last because it’s the habit that has most improved my discipline in the last five years.

If you only take one thing to heart from this article, let it be this: Meditation can open doors in your life, the existence of which you cannot conceive.

If you apply yourself to meditating every morning and every evening, all aspects of your life will become clearer.

The discipline required to sit down, even for as little as ten minutes, and follow your breath or your bodily sensations, is immense. Especially if you haven’t done it before.

But it becomes easier with time.

And you will find that discipline in all other areas will also become easier.

You see, meditation is, in part, an exercise in discipline.

Over time, as you meditate more, you’ll want to meditate even more.

And in my experience, the more you meditate (at least up until the 2 hours daily mark), the more your discipline will develop.

Meditation is sometimes uncomfortable or painful and often mind-numbingly boring, although the deeper you go, the more interesting it becomes.

My point is, the discipline you need to exercise to consistently sit down and subject yourself to pain and boredom is immense, but the results will speak for themself.

Start a habit of daily meditation today. Start with five minutes, and work yourself up from there.

It’s not rocket science, it’s actually very simple.

Just sit down and observe. Observe your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without engaging or judging.

Or follow your breath. There are tons of great articles and guided meditations out there for free, so there’s no excuse not to start.

Believe me, it will be the best change you ever make in your life.

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