Self-control, hedonism, apathy, and over-indulgence

Pikachu (@pikachu) 10 years, 2 months ago

Please help me master myself.
I must be doing something wrong. Nobody else seems to have these problems. How do you… "regulate" yourselves when it comes to things you enjoy?

Let me explain a bit more…

Let’s say I just found a new song that I love. I’ll download it, and listen to it over and over again. I will listen to it until it has lost almost all of its appeal, and then I move onto the next song. I over-indulge and repeatedly abuse new things until they lose their glamour, and then I go looking for something "new" and exciting to replace it.

Same thing happens with video games (all forms of media really). I tend to be incredibly hedonistic in my daily life. I cannot pace myself. If given a bag of candy, I will eat the whole thing now instead of rationing it over time.

Oh, today I feel like I want to start working out? I’ll run 2-3 miles and do 50 push-ups, then wake up sore for the next 4 days, and won’t exercise until I get that same euphoric urge 5 weeks later.

My activity on this website is the same. "Wow, this site is perfect for me!" <3 days of very persistent activity, posting and reading> Then it loses that "new" glamour and I move onto the next new thing. Then it becomes 2-3 months before the cycle repeats.

Meditation? That sounds amazing and exactly like what I need in my life! <2-3 days of persistence, then… time for something new>
Lucid dreaming?! I’m totally gonna commit to keeping a dream diary every day… (lasts for less than a week)

Where do these desires come from? Where does this apathy and burn-out come from? And where do you all get what appears to be unconditional resolve?

I’m not really interested in that "count to 10 and tell yourself you’re beautiful" bullshit; I’m interested in any insight you can give me into the mastery of self.

Part of the trouble seems to be my reluctance to refuse myself of what I want – I *want* to listen to this song again, I *want*to eat that whole pan of brownies (bad example), I *want* to do this now instead of what I was doing.

I’m also a software Engineer – you have no idea how many half-finished weekend projects I have.

November 23, 2011 at 1:35 am
Sean D Stevens (155) (@thelaughingfool) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

Sadly, I suffer from the same problem (I’m a Mechanical Engineer btw), and have yet been able to find a solution. For now, take comfort that you are not alone in this struggle.
However, something I’m coming to realize is that, if you’re like me, you’re looking for some trick; some magic spell that you’ve been missing that everyone else seems to possess. And what you (and I) need to realize is that there is none. If you want to get in shape, you need to exercise and eat right, rather than read fitness books. If you want to read more, you need to sit down and open a book, rather than just stock your library. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this, but I’d like to think being aware of this is the first step.

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Flynnstone (813) (@flynnstone) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

Honestly, it takes discipline. I’m not one to eat a whole bag of candy, but I’m not the best with finishing projects/books/whatever I start myself all the time either. Set goals for yourself if you really want to do it, and if you’ve left something to sit for a few months/years, look at it again and if you have no more motivation then don’t bother with finishing it until you do. If you really want to start working out or something, set a schedule for yourself, a specific time, and maybe a reward for yourself at the end of the week. Incentives help.

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kim (1) (@ominka) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

it sounds like your mind is always on the run, always on the look for races to partake in. which sounds tiring, is it not? we need to find you guys ways to walk for a change. but i dont know. how does one satiate the constant hunger to consume absolutely everything around them? my opinion is to really become aware of what youre doing and simultaneously pay intimate-close attention to your emotions. (being full, tired) use a magnifying glass if you have to. i deduced that this case has to do with a very opened mind and all the beauty one is exposed to or finds in their surroundings. whether it be a great song or delicious brownies. as fun as gorging all that life offers to us, we need to recognize limits and apply self control. deny or become taller than our nature. the world, as well as our brain, is our oyster. easier said than done, but try to find other distractions. explore. by pacing, walking, and really savoring every bite of life, every step, progress, so you really get to appreciate it and not overdose on it. we need to balance. sporadically running from one end to the other i feel will have detrimental results. learn to take your time. be aware of the inhales of life and exhales of self. stick to positive influences also i think is important. you might not be consciously aware, but maybe some of your actions are driven by unpleasant buried thoughts… ultimately i feel like its all about being aware. listen to yourself. listen to your breath, your touch, your senses. and slowly savor them. one teaspoon at a time :)

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Pikachu (6) (@pikachu) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

Thank you all for the input. I’m feeling that same urge of power that has become so familiar, but has always gone to waste. I’m driven with an incredible passion to start this new task, but fear I will “relapse” when the initial prestige wears off…

Kim, I like how you describe the phenomenon as an overdose – that is the best analogy I can think of. I have always assumed that one day I would just wake-up into the mind of a “fully matured adult,” who had all these things under control. But the world is slowly changing around me; I’m starting to see some things differently, and I feel like I am racing against them to keep up – perhaps this is the source of my wandering resolve.

Will there be some epiphany in my near future, in which I will suddenly “get it?” Or are these things learned only through looking back when we reach the end of the journey?

I’ll attempt to be more diligent through my next cycle of wandering passions; maybe I’ll finish one of my projects this winter break ^_^

(the worst part is “wearing out” all my good music too fast; I’ve got a plane to catch tomorrow and I already “consumed” all the new music I collected lol)

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kim (1) (@ominka) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

i have this bane with being an adult. i feel it has no meaning anymore other than the age that labels it. i have a job, i independently travel and make my own choices. yet i’m extremely ticklish, find humor in the most absurd things, and have a fear of the dark lol does that minus some from my adulthood? i like being at peace with yourself better. keeping up with time isn’t necessarily a bad thing. i see an adventurous side in that. and what better trait to be in this life? with a hint of balance :) cheers to that!

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You need some structure in your life. Boxing will fix that right up.

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Bryan Hellard (307)M (@xyver) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

@ Tits When in doubt, try boxing xD

I’m thinking you should try to do the opposite. Hear a new song that you like? Refuse to listen to it for a week. Get a bag of candy? Hide it from yourself, and come back to it a week later. Want to start working out? Start doing the opposite. Take a day or two and eat yourself sick. Be lazy, do nothing (a day or two shouldnt hurt you in the long run).

What I’m trying to say is you should try and experience the other end of the spectrum, then you can begin to find a balance in the middle. Finding the balance will be easier then forcing yourself to do the opposite of what you want xD I’ve been learning that “if something seems too hard, force yourself to do something harder. Then, coming back to the original plan, it will seem much easier”

Thinking back, the opposite of wanting to get in shape is a bad idea. Regardless, the idea is the same.

Force yourself to abstain instead of indulge.

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jake arends (11) (@jakexx) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

@ bryan, interesting idea, i think it might work.

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Ellie (1,363)M (@tangledupinplaid21) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

Omg Pika, you’re me!!!!! though HE has been one thing I’ve been able to commit to. I have done the “I’m gonna start exercising!” thing, only to stop a couple weeks later… I’ve got pretty good control over the song thing because I don’t allow myself to ruin an epic one (Carouselambra by Zeppelin is my current pleasure needing to be resisted). Lucid dreaming? I’ve attempted to practice that only to keep slacking. I think perhaps going through the cycle of excitement with something new, and then forgetting about it, and then re-discovering needs to happen in some cases, if only to show us that we really do want it in our lives. Perhaps once you are serious about it, it will stick. It happened that way with me and eating healthy. I struggled for a bit and now it’s such a habit I don’t even have to think about it.
Good idea Bryan! I’m gonna try that by chain smoking 2 packs a day ;) Haha.

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John OMallen (15) (@omallen) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

Read this:http://i.imgur.com/ZIEKO.jpg
Woo. That’s long.

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Manimal (2,998) (@manimal) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

JUST. FUCKING. DO. IT!!!

That’s all there is. There are no secret tricks, you just do it. You choose what you do, stop choosing to play videogames or do other shitty things. Just DO IT!

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mitch (18) (@mitch) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

I know exactly what you mean, what you said might’a poured out of my own head.

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Pedro (1) (@pedroptz) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

I have the same problem, what made me commit to working out, was this: the biggest percentage of life is not those great days (or the very worst ones), life in it’s majority is formed by “meh” days, days when you don’t really have that motivation inside of you.

How to succeed in these “meh” days? Routine. It’s the easiest way to get work done.

Edit: “It happened that way with me and eating healthy. I struggled for a bit and now it’s such a habit I don’t even have to think about it.” by Ellie. I think this is a good example of that “routine”

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Manimal (2,998) (@manimal) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

@Pedro If life consists mostly of meh days, you’re simply living wrong. Or barely living, that is.

There shouldn’t be a single meh day. You gotta unleash that core and go with the flow.

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John OMallen (15) (@omallen) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

@Manimal

@Pedro

I agree, I’m thinking about doing a polyphasic sleep cycle to have more time in the day because I don’t get everything I want to get done done and here’s what I did today: Wrote lots of poems, and an article forHE to publish; broke things with a hammer, toke out my tool box and worked on a bike I found; played basketball and blasted music; read, listened to a book; texted a good friend, skyped a friend who moved to Italy and talked to my neighbors. Very eventful. I need more time to do more like adding in learning and lots more time for reading/listening to books.
The point really being is that if you feel life as uneventful- you’re missing out. Mine’s not eventful enough cause I don’t have time to do everything I wanted to!

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Pedro (1) (@pedroptz) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

@Manimal and Danny

I don’t think I transmitted my message clearly.

“Meh” days are not unhappy days, “meh” days are the days when you don’t have that passion to do something, that willingness, as Pikachu said, that “euphoric urge”.

But Manimal, have you got it every single day? I would like to know more about “unleashing my core”

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Manimal (2,998) (@manimal) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

I understood what you meant by meh day. It’s worse than a sad day, at least you feel something during a sad day. Meh is a poison, slow demise.

I don’t have a single meh day, I haven’t had one in a long time. I have goals and I follow them through, and I love every second of it.

What do you do with your days? AND WHY?

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Rajiv Nelvoy (6) (@rajivnelvoy) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

I have the same problem too. A lot of the things I do nowadays is very spontaneous. I would LOVE to be able to plan something and stick to a routine. For example, meditation. I love the feeling after it but for some reason I can’t get myself to actually start doing it. Also reading books. I am a slow reader but I love reading. I read slow because I take breaks in between and keep interpreting what I just read. For example, the book “Tuesdays with Morrie”. It’s a book that I could have finished in 6 hours with an acceptable amount of comprehension. But I took a week deliberately so I could think about how I could apply it in my life and keep thinking of various ways relating to the topics. But nowadays, for some reason I don’t even find time to read books. I run a lot of chores and by the end of it I am just exhausted. I need to make more time for reading. I get distracted by my laptop a lot :D

Sorry for digressing. But I think the first thing I am gonna do is take the 30 day challenge to prove to myself that I can actually do it. I need to focus :D

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Milo (57) (@milo) 10 years, 2 months ago ago

The things you enjoy are not neccesairly the things you need to get done. That is why you must regulate. I feel like this is extrmely obvious. The regulation and self-control is what I could use some help on.

Being a teenager, I’ve been told I’m extremely susceptible to these “hedonistic tendencies”. I bet everyone is though and I bet a large percentage of people find a way to get around it. This is why we have ground breaking revelations and innovations in technology and beautiful works of art such as the Sistine Chapel. I bet Michelangelo spent a few days goofing around and jacking off but when he had to get down to work he did.

Being human is being available to distractions and wasting time and not getting shit done in lieu of smoking dope and shooting the breeze.

But I think the Sistine Chapel is beautiful and this beauty I see motivates me to create my own, and too really have the time to create my own beauty I need to get the hell out of high school. I have to do homework to graduate. There’s hoops that need to be jumped through to really be able to do what you wanna do. That’s my motivation.

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DANM!! (107) (@deej) 10 years, 1 month ago ago

Pikachu! You need to find something bigger than yourself that you are passionate about and become it. “You need to become the change that you want to see”. If you find what you are truly passionate about, then you need to fight for it (like all of these people that we look up to) and realize that these small things are unimportant and that you have so much to look forward to besides constant distractions. Everybody has bad days where they don’t feel like they want to start their workout and it’s 9:00 pm and too late but that’s untrue it’s only too late if you say it is so. Just become the change you want to see in yourself and the distractions not be as important and maybe you’ll kill two birds with one stone and your usual distraction will become something you need to reach your goals and then you have a reason to follow though. Hope this helps. It’s helped me big time.

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North (22) (@north) 10 years, 1 month ago ago

Another engineer here. You are definitely not alone. I don’t know how old you are, but many times this problem lessens with age.
However, if you really want to change. Focus ALL of your energy for one week (or heck even one day), on not giving in to your impulses. The satisfaction you will feel will be incredibly encouraging, and you will find that over time that these impulses will not have as much power over you as they do now.

The feeling of self control will give you more long term pleasure than the temporary impulsive pleasure.

But giving in once in a while is ok of course : )

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Anonymous (1) (@) 10 years, 1 month ago ago

I have a friend who will listen to songs on repeat until he tires of them. To me, it’s a matter of self-control; if you want to truly appreciate things in your life you have to do so in moderation. It takes a strong individual to utilize this self-control. Love is always worth the wait.

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Deepak (37) (@deepak87) 9 years, 5 months ago ago

Hi, I face a very similar problem and have been pondering on the same for ages. I enjoyed reading all the responses here. I can use my will power and deny myself giving into those euphoric powerful impulses. But then, I miss those enjoyments forever. These urges are like magical portals that open up and if you do not give in to them, the portals simply shrink and disappear and you lose that passion, euphoria and potential accelerated knowledge that could be gained in those intense moments.

I have noticed regular bouts of awareness exercises: like noticing every moment, every feeling, emotion non-judgmentally has given me much more clarity and understanding.

For example: When I consume alcohol, I notice every feeling in the body, like the sudden increase in my ability to sustain attention, the feeling of satisfaction, the feeling of relaxation and numbness etc. But along with noticing the pleasurable effects, I continue to observe all of these sensations even after the effect wears off and the next day. So what I have realized is that the euphoria of alcohol definitely comes with a price in terms of your feelings/sensations/emotions after the effects wear off and the next day. Once I experientially saw this again and again, every time I drank, I got a broader understanding of the large picture behind the drinking and the urge to drink has got diluted to a great extent. Ultimately, this results in moderation.

Now, there are still issues here too. The alcohol example is not really pure pleasure because it comes with a price. Maybe this example would be applicable for the urge to consume vast amounts of sugar, a pack of brownies, other drugs such as weed etc. But what about some intellectual desire? What price does that have? Say I feel the irresistible urge to consume all the information I can about ‘mystery of pyramids’ etc. Whats the flip side of indulging in such desires?

In my experience the main flip side here is that, you get used to this extreme focus followed by daydreaming kind of activity. There is an addiction to this kind of lifestyle which is in stark contrast with the way conventional society or the average public function today. This is akin to a hunter personality who chases the prey with extreme focus, speed and concentration and then totally relaxes with his reward for the rest of the day etc. Conventional society works more on a farmer’s model where you slowly reap benefits by daily work in increments. If there is an addiction to the former hunter personality lifestyle, it becomes quite difficult to fit into conventional society or converse with people of the other kind.

So in my experience, the only solution that has really helped me gain a lot of insight is awareness. In my days, my graphs of productivity/enjoyment etc. are like sudden spikes and the rest of it is more mellow. Once you experientially observe your life closely from moment to moment, the understanding helps you get greater perspective on how to deal with just about EVERYTHING. Is the pain only because you are at odds with the way conventional society operates?

These are my thoughts until now. I am still in my journey towards understanding this.
Other people, please let me know your views regarding stuff I mentioned.

Hope it helps!

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LJ (38) (@lozzjd) 9 years, 5 months ago ago

@pikachu, I am very similar to yourself and over the last week have been wondering what I can do about it. I stumbled upon this site and am about to start following these steps to see if it will help me. http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/self-discipline/

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Wusgewda (3) (@wusgewda) 9 years, 5 months ago ago

@pikachu, Habit.

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