Experiment No. 3: Feeling Blessed

It has been a while since I’ve written. Rest assured, I’m not giving up, but I did allow circumstance to throw me off-course. The last time I set an experiment, it was to do 100 push-ups every day and study for two hours. Wow, what a huge goal. I don’t want to report on it until I’ve had a week’s success, and my logging has gotten weak. So, starting tomorrow, I will be logging again and will hopefully report good results one Monday from now: on April 4th. In short, I’ve done the push-ups just about half the time – with lightly noticeable results – and I’ve done almost no studying. No good.

I’ve come to a very unhappy place where I feel that I have little to lose. It’s not a good place to be, but it is liberating in many ways. The consistently-strong impulse is go over things and how they should be, how this is unfair, how I could have done something different, something better. I alternate between short bouts of inspiration towards the evening, where there is conveniently little space before the repose of sleep, and this desperate, soul-sucking sense of nothingness. Wanting nothing but… well you know, her. Not feeling up to my dreams at all.

Anyway, there’s no point in elaborating on the self-pity. Instead, I’m going to declare my Experiment #3. Normally, I wouldn’t consider starting a new experiment while the old one is still happening, but this one seems pretty straightforward (hopefully!) and will (hopefully!) help me clear my head a little. I got the link from this Raptitude article, but the actual experiment comes from this great piece by Steve Pavlina on being blessed. In short, Pavlina describes that most of us live our lives in this vicious cycle:

“Think about what you don’t want -> Feel bad -> Comfort yourself”

And, elaborating:

Thinking about what you don’t want is a trap. Such thoughts can keep you stuck for a very long time. You can seriously blow years — even decades — of your life in the following vicious cycle:
1. Look around and observe what you’re experiencing.
2. Notice that you don’t like certain aspects of your life.
3. Feel fear, worry, sadness, disappointment, and/or other negative emotions.
4. Think about what it would take to change what you dislike.
5. Notice that it will probably take a huge amount of time and effort to change — and with no guarantee of success. Consider that you might even make things worse.
6. Feel frustrated, trapped, and/or depressed.
7. Do something that makes you feel better. Watch TV. Eat. Drink. Surf the web. Check email. Maybe do all of the above.
8. Feel some relief and comfort now that you’ve distracted and/or drugged yourself.
9. Allow some time to pass, and eventually repeat from step one.

This is absolutely 100% the case with me right now. And I most certainly do not want to be stuck in this for decades. Last time to a year and a heartbreak to get out of it, and I am most certainly not eager to jump in again. But it’s sucking me in. So, I’m going to try Pavlina’s solution:

“Once you’re feeling relieved and comforted, even if you’ve had to drug yourself with food, wine, and mindless entertainment to reach this point, you’re in a reasonably good place to start thinking about what you want instead of what you don’t want. Don’t worry about practicality. Just fantasize. But fantasize in a specific way. Sit on your couch (or a chair or park bench if people came and took your couch away), and imagine that what you want is actually becoming real. Put yourself in the frame of mind that it’s already happening.
Imagine your ideal physical body. Think about your ideal relationships. Picture your ideal career. Imagine having your finances just the way you want them. Imagine living where and how you want to live. Be specific, and picture as much detail as you can. Don’t worry about getting the details perfect — just imagine details that seem attractive to you. You don’t have to say or affirm anything. But it’s crucial that you feel the feelings. If you feel neutral, you’re not there yet. How would you honestly feel if you were experiencing all of these wonderful things right now? If you’d feel totally neutral to have them right now, it’s safe to say you don’t really want them.
Don’t project your dreams into some distant future. Imagine that whatever you want is happening right now this very moment. Imagine that it’s 100% real.If it takes you 10 or more minutes just to get a clear picture of some small part of your life getting better, then so be it. Put in the time. Deliberately thinking about what you want is a very important activity. This kind of visualization is an outstanding use of your time.”

Well, it certainly is a better way to spend my time than being miserable and wishing for nothing but to go back. So, I’m gonna do it.

Experiment #3: I will imagine my idea future for 20 minutes a day. I will try it before bed or in the morning at first. If it doesn’t work, I’ll pick a different time. But I’ll do 20 minutes a week regardless.

I’ll report on progress with both experiments soon!

P. S. I’ve also been re-reading/listening to Benjamin Zander. Those summaries will be up shortly.

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