1) Meditation, I used to think it was something hippies did. I now think its worth 10 IQ points. I honestly can't recommend it enough.
2) Sleep, I'm getting close to 40 and the last 2 times I pulled all nighters I ended up deleting pretty much all the code I wrote from 11pm onward.
3) Occasional Fasts. I normally fast from 6pm until noon the next day but I now do one 3 day fast each month. I think this is going to become more and more common as a way to head off cancer in the body.
I'm not a doctor but my doctor friends believe that eating less is the secret to increasing life span and fasting is the secret to heading off cancer cells before they can really start to grow.
Also after 3 days of fasting I find that the mind becomes sharper.
Your millage may vary....
I pulled an all nighter and next day rear ended a vehicle near a traffic signal because I dozed off for a second. The impact was minimal and no one was harmed. It was the first accident with my fault in 15 years of driving. I am approaching 40 and have 2 young kids. I cannot get my priorities wrong at this point. Many lives depend on me and hence it is imperative that I take care of my health.
I am sharing so people in my situation may recognize importance of our health at this stage in life.
I wonder if we as a society will ever come around to treating insufficient sleep similarly to drunkenness or distraction for drivers. My intuition says it's similarly dangerous.
Here's some info from drowsydriving.org >
"According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in (such) a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times."
There are some regulations about minimum amounts of sleep for airline pilots.
I guess it would have a high cost and intrusiveness to try to document individual motorists' sleep, but I can imagine that if self-driving cars catch on as broadly and as quickly as many people have predicted, fatigued driving could become much more stigmatized and punished than it is today.
Perhaps a field test of some of the markers shared by alcohol and drowsiness. Maybe test for micro sleeps, concentration, etc. similarly to how the effects of insufficient sleep are measured in a lab.
Studies have shown waste products are removed during sleep by the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. Perhaps even a short period of cerebrospinal fluid circulation is enough to stave off sleepiness.
(a) I spend time browsing emails while lying down (easily eats 30 mins per night).
(b) No meetups in evenings.
(c) Excuse from business meetings after a certain time
(d) Cut down on social events on weekdays.
(e) Push all non-essential things to weekends.
I made this list for myself and it helps free up evenings. Your situation may differ.
I realized that my kids are my investments as well. In to someone's future/life (not trying to sound too dramatic). So, that's highest priority at this point and hence the sleep.
If I have to make a choice, I always choose sleep. Why? The other two priorities have a one-way dependency on it. I can sleep well while neglecting work or family, but I cannot make a decent contribution to work or family if I do not have enough sleep.
Okay, that came out a bit incisive. Do you have any scientific backing to support those claims? I'm especially interested in fasting. Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy. Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.
Seriously, try it, it's free!
* Clear, focused mind. I stop hopping from topic to topic in my mind "oh should I tidy the apartment, work on my website, etc etc" to a far more focused state. What you should do next is there with extreme clarity. You stop reading random junk on the internet too, and get down to it
* Much better sleep (this alone is worth it for me)
* Much calmer, steadier mood (less ups and downs in a normal day, I'm normally quite content but this effect was noticable)
All you need:
* 20 mins in a quiet room
* Perhaps white noise on headphones if you need it, timer on your laptop or phone
* Sit comfortably, back straight against a cushion, and focus on your breathing, try not to have any thoughts
* You'll fail, over and over, and follow thoughts down the rabbit hole
* Let the thought drift away without getting annoyed, start fresh
* Repeat for 20 mins
* Do it once per day, everyday
It sounds ridiculous, but this is really powerful. You owe it to yourself to try, there's no spiritual voodoo or 50/month courses needed.
I prefer to just become an observer of my thoughts; to acknowledge and let them flow; I focus on accepting that they are only thoughts - little impulses. The imagery I often have is that I'm sitting in a clear bubble, and my thoughts are swirling around me: I can see them, and I know they're there, but I do not let them in.
Mindfulness one of the key skills(if not THE key skill) exercised by meditation is the ability to be aware of one's own thoughts and feelings, and this is practiced primarily by
listening to what thought's were having, and letting them go.
I never fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes I trance out into heady thoughts where the outside world gets blocked off.
I don't really know where meditation ends, naps begin, and where legit sleep falls in the spectrum. My goal isn't meditation though, my real goal is to black out cold, but haven't gotten there yet. So ymmv for anyone else attempting but it seems I'm in the same field as you describe.
Then I tend to naturally snap out of it before my alarm rings me awake.
Tools: travelers sleep eye mask, comfortable silent area (my car in parking garage), phone timer.
The same way we are aware of moving our arm when we are doing so, becoming aware of your thoughts while we are thinking. We tend to take are thoughts for granted, giving them automatic truth status
Here's a great intro you could try: https://youtu.be/D5Fa50oj45s
> Mal: …Could have been meditating on the wonders of your rock garden right now.
> Jayne: Beats just sitting.
> Wash: It is just sitting.
There's a pretty big spectrum of mindfulness and meditation including "just sitting", yoga, Qigong -- or even certain forms of martial arts (perhaps most famously certain forms of Tachi, but also Pa Kua Chang and others).
Or even just taking a walk in the forest.
"Just sitting" is probably the easiest way to get started, but perhaps the hardest to master -- or stick with. But I think everyone should be able to find something that works for them.
It's more along the lines of "trying not to react to thoughts"
If you have sox installed, just run
play -n synth 20:00 pinknoise
What helped me was concentrating on my breathing and heartbeat, and the fact that I'm concentrating on my breathing and heart. I had a really hard time completely clearing my mind on demand, but those two things are very easy to start concentrating on and other thoughts slowly slip away.
Not OP but this is a good summary: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946160/
> Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.
I think OP was implying that it may decrease your chances of getting cancer not cure it. Everyone will get cancer if they live long enough (based on the current state of medicine, that may change in the future).
edit: I should say that personally I don't really practice intermittent fasting (at least not consciously). But I don't eat after 8pm either, so I tend to do at least a 12 hour fast every day because of that. Sometimes I also skip breakfast which makes it a 16-18 hour fast. My biggest meal of the day is usually lunch not dinner.
I'm fuzzy on the details but I believe they were trying to explain why outcomes were statistically better for early morning treatments (people coming in with an empty stomach to deal with nausea)
Oxidative Stress, Caloric Restriction, and Aging
Calorie Restriction Promotes Mammalian Cell Survival by Inducing the SIRT1 Deacetylase 
Gene Expression Profile of Aging and Its Retardation by Caloric Restriction 
Caloric restriction and aging: an update 
Calorie Restriction Promotes Mitochondrial Biogenesis by Inducing the Expression of eNOS 
I'm surprised many believe this. It seems self-evident that our bodies are well adapted to periods of starvation. Any biology that wasn't so adapted would have been out-competed by those did.
The link to cancer is typically due to free radical theories causing genetic damage, and caloric restriction is being employed to help cancer patients last longer.
Their shortsightedness poisoned the Earth with the waste products of their energy production, changing the world's climate, and driving many of them to extinction. It also skewed the efficiency numbers towards organisms that didn't need to sit around synthesizing carbohydrates when there was so many free carbohydrates just sitting around for anything able to digest them.
I actually never thought about it from that angle. It seems like it should obviously be true now. Now the question is how true and if nuances exist where our bodies can take it but not optimal in health.
I think our current understanding of medicine and human biology is quite limited, so there may be tons of these little quirks - non obvious things that are actually amazing for us. But, i'm sure there will also be tons of things that are not directly related to what we did to survive thousands of years ago.
I haven't kept myself up to date on it, but I think I remember that it was more about changing an organism's biology early in life. If you're an organism that is going to burn less energy per day, then you are an organism that just has less entropy per day, and less side-effect damage to your cells because of it. I think that the gist of it?
"From predator-prey models (the so-called Lotka-Volterra type of population dynamics), I knew that populations experience [potentially high] variability, hence predators will necessarily go through periods of feast and famine. That's us, humans--we had to have been designed to experience extreme hunger and extreme abundance.
... So where on earth does this idea of "steady" exercise come from? Nobody in the Pleistocene jogged for forty-two minutes three days a week, lifted weights every Teusday and Friday, etc... Not hunters. We swung between extremes: we sprinted when chased or when chasing (once in a while in an extremely exerting way), and walked about aimlessly the rest of the time."
That's what he thinks anyway. We are complex, yo.
Are you sure? My understanding is that hunting requires a lot of tracking, where you are following perishable clues, which means a moderate sustained pace. And sometimes you are invisible to prey, but sometimes you just need to keep up. Notably when you have injured your prey but not yet killed it. On top of that there's persistence hunting, which is more like an ultramarathon than a sprint.
Also, when gathering you often need to move quickly. My chickens don't just move lazily all day, they often move around quite frenetically. When you find some good stuff, it behooves you to move quickly to gather as much as you can before others catch on. And when you're moving through barren areas it also makes sense to not waste time.
The idea that early humans rarely spent 40 minutes jogging seems like quite a bold assertion to me.
And anyway, even if we never jogged, we certainly migrated. An hourlong walk several times a week is a reasonable exercise regimen too.
Based on my own experiences, I agree with the main point, I find steady exercises like jogging much less exhausting than dynamic exercises like playing football (soccer) where you're frequently switching between exertion and rest. This also seems to tie in with High Intensity Training (though I've never formally tried it):
However, isn't weightlifting a couple of times a week an example of exercising to extremes? At least if you prioritise weight over repetitions. This is purely anecdotal, but I've heard from various sources that free weight exercises like squats and deadlifts are some of the best exercises you can do, as they work out your whole body and the proper form relies on getting different muscle groups to work well together.
Just some random research below, there is lots of more if you use google.
Two things not even remotely ONLY associated with hippies -- that have been practiced for millennia before the hippy movement ever existed...
>Do you have any scientific backing to support those claims?
>Not eating for 3 days a month does not seem especially healthy.
You'd be surprised.
>Then I see the claim that it cures cancer and forgive me if all my alarm bells go off.
There's (growing) research to suggest it partially mitigates risk: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/.
This was the first pubmed search result for "fasting cancer risk". I think your alarm bells are miscalibrated.
I did this on and off (stopped eating Sunday after dinner and didn't eat until Wednesday or later in the week).
I was only 19 and 20 at the time and did it because I was bored but I remember feeling significantly more productive. Pretty sure I was but not sure if it had to do with a clearer head or because I suddenly had 1-2 extra undisturbed hours when everyone else was busy eating.
Stopped after an incident where I tried lifting weights after 2 days on a very restrictive diet and half a day with no calories at all. 15 minutes in I started seriously shivering and I never picked it up later although I am seriously tempted from time to time.
Basically, the idea is to divide into undereating and overeating cycles, eating a single big meal a day (or in more extreme instances, one large meal per 2 days).
Unfortunately, the book linked above does not have a lot of scientific backing. This may simply be due to how it deviates from a lot of conventional diets at the moment.
Nevertheless, personally I rarely trust "scientists" who work in the field of nutrition:
1. They tend to change their views drastically over time.
See e.g the whole sugar vs fat issue.
2. They are often heavily influenced by corporate funding, and as such incentive structures do not align well with the goal of rigorous science. One personal anecdote: my extended family uses a lot of coconuts and coconut oil in cooking. Coconut oil was presented in many "scientific" publications as being one of the worst oils, and olive oil as the best (often by olive oil company funded research).
Things are much more even now.
Basically, I believe in the following:
1. Following a particular ancestral diet is a pretty safe bet - it has been tested and refined over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There is often accumulated wisdom in certain practices. See e.g. https://www.amazon.com/100-Million-Years-Food-Ancestors/dp/1... for a detailed discussion of this.
2. Intermittent fasting has been practiced in various cultures to different extents, often due to religious beliefs. Again, something that has persisted that long is likely fine.
In short, true science is usually lacking in nutritional work. As for anecdotal evidence, there is some, detailed in the book above. I also am skeptical about the extent of its benefits, but see no serious downside to the "one meal a day" idea.
also, have you ever tried meditation?
Sounds ridiculous to even ask.
One might as well be religious if they don't read scientific literature (which offers tons of studies on meditation) and don't at least keep an open mind and try to verify experimentally their claims.
Not only it doesn't sound "ridiculous to even ask", but there are LOTS of scientific studies on the matter.
it can't be because all the variables involved cannot be tightly controlled. Same reason why all the Psychology studies have been lately relegated to snake oil status.
All those studies are stupid.
People have been meditating for benefits (including more money and better performing at their job etc) for millennia. It's not just for spiritual/religious purposes (and if fact in some cultures those can be mixed as well without any contradiction).
>All those studies are stupid.
Yeah, all those scientists are useless and their universities are full of idiots, nothing like an internet comment to put them in their place.
If you want to prejudicially exclude research, don't claim to speak in favor of science.
And, Yes universities are filled with idiots, egotists and scamsters with their own nefarious motives. How do you explain the absurd 90% hypothesis validation? 
you have your own brain to observe and meditate on, why do you need some authority to tell you what to do.
>If you want to prejudicially exclude research, don't claim to speak in favor of science.
People like you who blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there in the name of science are real curse to the gift of science.
Just because there has been a replication crisis doesn't mean you can dismiss all scientific studies willy nilly.
Those are not some Deepak Chopra style BS, they are actual clinical studies (and I've just sent a sample, there are tons). And the "replication crisis" argument doesn't really hold up if independent studies reach similar conclusions (as is the case with a lot of these).
>People like you who blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there in the name of science are real curse to the gift of science.
I don't "blindly believe anything a supposed authority puts out there". I respect multiple teams working on a field and coming up with relevant results, and having their papers peer reviewed etc.
I don't use issues like the "replication crisis" to dismiss any study I don't like based on predetermined convictions.
Notice also how your links are irrelevant. We are not talking about Psychology studies but medical clinical studies. So whether "Positive” Results Increase Down the Hierarchy of the Sciences" (as another paper says) is irrelevant, as we're not talking about soft sciences and humanities here.
I went to the first reference from your wikipedia link
Conclusion: Most clinical trials on meditation practices are generally characterized by poor methodological quality with significant threats to validity in every major quality domain assessed. Despite a statistically significant improvement in the methodological quality over time, it is imperative that future trials on meditation be rigorous in design, execution, analysis, and the reporting of results.
Second reference from wikipedia
The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness,
Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology
Exercise regimen is 3-4 days a week of strength training. Usually a moderate pace, 1.0-1.5 hours. Start the day with high-weight/low rep major lifts (deadlift, squat, bench), fill the middle with other high weight/low rep lifts, and towards the end as my energy is tapering off move to about 50% of 1RM and high rep sets of the same major lift until exhausted.
Probably more than you wanted to know. :)
So that all said, I've got the benefit of having maintained a more-or-less consistent workout regimen since before I started fasting and having logged every set along the way. When I started I was waiting for my performance to fall off a cliff... but it never came. My performance has remained steady and continued rising at close enough to the same rate as it was before that I'll call it "unaffected within some margin of error".
There was a white paper on /r/science about how decreasing amount of sugar one consumes, lowers chances of developing some kinds of cancer (can't find an exact link, something along the lines "less sugar starves cancer"). Pretty interesting, thanks s for sharing!
I would also be very considerate of posture, especially as you are learning. Eventually, the posture you select will become second nature, so it's important that you select one that is not going to cause damage, or pain. I would suggest an active posture - one where you have to focus, in order to keep yourself in the posture would be best. Then, if your posture slips, you'll know it's because your attention is elsewhere, and you can bring yourself back into your body.
Finally (because I have to go, not because I have no more to say) consider doing short length meditation at the start. You want to do 20 minutes, twice a day, but it doesn't have to be all at once, at first. In the morning and evening, set a stop watch, and let it run, until you feel you can do no more. Then subtract a minute or so from that time, and set a timer. For the first week, start the timer, sit with yourself, and when the timer goes off, get up, stretch, move around and do nothing strenuous for about a minute, then sit back down and start again, until you've done the equivalent of 20 minutes. After the first week, increase the timer. Just keep increasing it as you get more comfortable, until you can just sit with yourself for the full 20 consecutive minutes in the morning and evening.
The key is to not beat yourself up about not being "good" at meditation. When you realize your mind has been wandering, take note of it, return your focus to your breath, and move on.
A crutch is good for you as long as you stop using it when you don't need it anymore.
It works well with my procrastinating mindset because, even if I miss a day, I never do not boomerang the email to myself. It's important to learn to forgive yourself if you miss a day, which is why it works for me.
I also always zero my inbox which means I can't miss the email.
Your mind will wander, don't judge it, it's not good or bad. Just notice that your mind wandered and then focus on your breathing. Keep doing that until your time is up.
You shouldn't meditate with the goal of not letting your mind wander, and noticing your mind wandering isn't a bad thing. Just meditate by deciding to bring back your attention to your breath whenever your mind wanders.
I'll look into the Tara Brach podcast as well though. More opinions never hurt.
It's an open-eyed moving meditation. I love my 90 minutes of tech-free simpleness where I don't think, just react.
I can't recommend trying for 3 days straight enough.
When I developed more focus, I stopped using Headspace, so I could have longer periods of uninterrupted silence.
Try to only focus your awareness on the part of your body above your eyes. Something that helps is to pretend like you are carrying a basket on your head.
Also look for meditation MeetUps in your area, maybe being in a group will help you.
Meditation for skeptics.
Also, trying to optimise the way I do things / my systems. We all have them, whether we realise it or not. I'm just trying to better get on top of mine: wake -> meditation -> exercise -> breakfast -> office -- etc.
It's easy for me to feel entirely "in the present moment" when I'm deeply involved in a craft or something. and everything is going nicely. But it doesn't help when I want to start the hobby on a Saturday, but am also too anxious about a deadline next week for work, or when I'm bored waiting in line at the bank, or talking to new people at a bar. And so on.
It's been really helpful learning how to be mindful using what's always available to me. The breath, physical sensations, flow of my own thoughts. I can't always pull out a guitar or sewing kit when my mind starts racing. But (typically), I'll always have my breath.
Wow I can really relate to that. Mind telling me what you do for meditation and/or mindfulness? Do you treat them separately, or do them train them together in one program. Any app, or something in particular I can follow?
I'd suggest trying several different ones (probably not at the same time) until you find what works best for you. And give it a longer chance than you might be willing to at first.
It took me more than 30 days to get to where I could spend two minutes focusing on my breath and feelings and feel better and more in control. It's been a little over 2 months now, and I'm starting to notice negative or anxious thoughts as they happen or spiral into more and more negative thoughts.
Just yesterday at our company's quarterly meeting I had to speak briefly and one of my points was about an error caused by a client that delayed my team's project. I was getting very nervous, even though I knew 1) It wasn't my or anyone else in the company's fault. 2) This isn't new news, it's already been solved and management has known about it since the start. 3) All the other teams have some equivalent detail they're sharing, nobody is perfect.
Yet I was still panicking. I always get unnecessarily anxious in situations like that. Yesterday was the first time in my life I realized that rationalizing like that doesn't work, I was still expending the same energy and stress as if I were panicking. But now I'm stressing about those excuses, instead of stressing about the speech. So I just did my best to focus on my breath and whomever was currently speaking. It wasn't the same as trying to make my brain shut up, it was still furiously panicking and rationalizing, but I didn't have to listen and the thoughts didn't have to affect me.
Best of luck!
Coupling with the meditation, I've also been doing a martial art. Apart from the useful Zen lessons (eg: stop seeing obstacles as obstacles - if you hit things head on, it's a lot harder than flowing around them), it's been equally wonderful for my headspace. 3 times a week for 90 minutes I have to think about something other than work, or life - because I'm rubbish at it and I'll get hurt.
I suspect you'd get a similar benefit from a team sport where you're being relied on and can't let the side down. It puts your head somewhere outside of its usual place. I find the 'space' of that, like meditation, invaluable - especially because life is so busy.
Also, most forms of meditation are very soothing and tend to get you into a hyper-relaxed state that you don't get from most hobbies, though I'm sure it can happen with some hobbies, like gardening.
 The task shouldn't require deliberate mental effort on your part. Initially, it may, but eventually it becomes something you can do without consideration. Fold paper cranes for hours and hours. At first you think about it, eventually you're just reaching for the next square and realize you've made a few hundred cranes.
But if you can crack walking/standing meditation, things like gardening or endurance exercise can complement rather than hinder your efforts to just be instead of trying to send your mind somewhere else.
If you can do standing meditation then it's a lot harder for someone to 'waste your time', which makes certain social obligations a lot less tense, because you're not resentful about not being able to 'get out' of the situation.
It's also much easier to stop the thoughts, focus on the present moment, breathing, etc when you are running in a park as opposed to staring at the wall.
As you run, you focus on your breathing, or on your body motions, or on the environment around you - whatever makes you feel "present", experiencing the moment around you instead of being in your head. And you just keep running without thinking for some period of time.
Couple more bonuses of meditating while you're exercising:
- You can focus on motions instead of breathing. That way you move better, and it's more fun, and it makes meditation easier.
- You don't need a timer, you can just meditate while running a certain distance. Since you're doing it every day the timing will be pretty much the same, and you aren't subconsciously wondering when the timer is going to stop, you can just focus on enjoying your jogging.
If you also practice something like loving-kindness (it sounds hippy, but it has scientific backing), it can increase the quality of your relationships.
Lot of Indians fast. the reason is religious but many think the ancient just used religion etc as a tool to ensure their best practices are carried forward to future generations.
I've heard this before and it makes some sense. Don't know how to reconcile it against my desire to get out of the 17-18 BMI pit I've been in, and put on some healthy muscle (which requires a lot of food).
The point is, I'm too skinny, want to put on some muscle for general health, but have to eat a lot to do it.
Diet and exercise have also been things I've been learning very belatedly to take seriously.
I'm currently trying to improve at listening, communicating, and reading instructions properly.
What worked for me was resetting the rhythm itself, by under-eating over long periods of time, 2 weeks at least, up to 1-2 months. I keep telling myself hungry is the new normal, and in the long run it becomes the new normal. Under-eating is not even that hard if one goes mostly veggie, that is eat fruits / veggies / eggs / cheese / yoghurt / fish and skip sugar / meat / pasta / bread / rice / deep fried *. Few more tricks: always have a bottle of water nearby, take time to have a meal [15 minutes latency for full signal to propagate to the brain], snack lightly on fresh fruits, veggies and yoghurt along the day [never go crazy hungry].
To me the transition order is:
Sugar + Simple carbs + High calorie meals -> No sugar + Complex carbs + Fiber + High calorie meals -> Smaller meals + letting yourself get hungry for an hour before you eat -> Skip a meal -> Skip multiple meals
I have done 3 day fasts and never had that problem, I essentially went right back into my normal eating habits. The first meals after the fast were usually much smaller than the usual meals I would eat.
I have become more mindful even without practicing meditation anymore so it seems I did pick up a new skill/habit from training.
I think I will give it another try.
The beginning was pretty difficult but once you're used to it it's nice.
Drink water. Some people will allow juice on a fast.
I guess maybe the idea is the juice sugar gets digested quickly and you're back to empty, whereas the rice would stick around. I guess it's a question of whether it's better to go up to a 10 and then back down to a zero, or go to a 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.
I do have a question though, a 3 day fast?!?!?!?! 3 days of no food? I'm assuming you drink water?
Do you drink coffee or use any some of stimulants?
I wish this was true && that there was well compiled evidence that could convince me that this is the case.
Empirical religion ftw.
> "Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.
The XYZ fact may turn out to actually not generalize. With mental phenomena, often how you got somewhere matters more than the thing itself. For a nice negative example, think about taste - many of us have strong repulsion towards some foods caused by random events in the past. Like, for many years parsley made me nauseous, and it started when as a kid I ate a broth and then threw up. It's a common thing that when you're sick your brain can create associations between how you feel and what you smell or eat. So you end up hating some food not because it's objectively bad, not because everyone else hates it too, but because of a random event in your life that happened to get associated with it.
I treat n=1 experiments as a way to probe such random associations. If you find out that something works for you, it doesn't matter that it isn't scientifically proven. It doesn't matter the effect doesn't generalize. It doesn't matter it works only through association and that this association was created due to you doing the experiment. If it works for you, it works for you.
But to be clear - "it works for me" is the only thing you can say in such case. N=1 experiments are ok, but trying to generalize from them isn't. Saying "it must work because it worked for me" based on such experiment is of course quackery.
But that was just my experience of it after a short time (one month)--it's an empirical process of consciously observing your own mind (and letting things go), which is fascinating, and leads to continuous changes in how you interact with the world and others in it.
I'm saying this with first hand experience, I was skeptical (I think lazy is better word), but I started recently, been on four weeks now and it is working for me, never going back.
However I think it's good to get the balance right. If you're working full time then I think you deserve to give yourself a break when you get home from work and indulge in some escapism. Be that watching a film or playing a game. If not it often leads to burnout.
I think I'd often rather play a game as my mind is being kept partly active and I'm not just blindly staring at the TV. I've recently been playing "The long dark", it's a good way to chill, although it can be tense in parts.... ;-)
I remember it explicitly. Staring at a problem for almost an hour, not writing anything. Then just kinda saying screw it. I gave myself permission to just stop. Just started playing the first game I could find and sank a weekend into it.
I'm back to where I was before, but that moment is something I won't forget. Gotta give yourself permission, almost the way pomodoro gives you permission to focus completely for x time.
If you don't want to keep getting things done, that is.
I have no interest in a game unless I can demonstrably become very good at it compared to others. So, games like Skyrim (which used to be my favorite genre) are no longer very fun for me. Typically I don't finish them.
I do find helping my kids to 'save the world' is still enjoyable!
Losing to my 12 y/o daughter at Rocket League (seriously trying my hardest) makes me wonder WTF is wrong with me.
Lol... sometimes I think 12 year old kids should be tasked with figuring out the hardest problems.
Maybe another way to look at this is that I can't get into games that feel like projects. Building a base in DF is a project. If I'm going to be working on a project, why not a programming project that will actually create value in my life and others'? With something like Overwatch (team-based FPS with 15-30 minute matches) on the the other hand, it feels more like an activity, like watching a movie or playing a sport. I feel comfortable playing it for two hours one day and picking it back up the next day or the next week or just whenever I want to spend some time relaxing.
I still like building things so Age of Empires 2 is perfect for me - there's a lot of base / army building but it's ultimately a short stateless activity.
That said, we did get into Minecraft for a few weeks. It was a fun little way to build a virtual world together. But after an hour straight of playing, I would just get this deep sense of loneliness and depression, and have to turn it off. It's just not reality, and that makes it feel so empty, even when it's full.
I suggest this because they preserve the "game" aspect and give up a bit of the virtual world feel in exchange for having a strong social aspect (hanging out with friends in real life).
Either one is actually very conducive towards socially drinking with friends while doing something that isn't trying to hear each other at a loud bar.
There are some people that genuinely find joy in their work, I have no problem with those people. They probably have a bit of a problem in their personal life with overdoing it at work, but as long as they genuinely enjoy it I can't fault them.
edit: I should say before somebody jumps down my throat, I'm not saying we shouldn't have to work, or work is so terrible. I'm saying work is usually a means to an end, and you're very lucky if you happen to enjoy what you do to any degree.
I profoundly disagree with your definition of hobby. My "hobby" is writing a science fiction novel. I don't get nearly as much time to do it as what I do for my day job, but I try hard to approach it with the same degree of seriousness that I bring to my work. So far, I don't think I've written anything anyone else would want to read, but I've managed to get to the point where I actually enjoy the process of writing.
Even better, I can sit back after I've written a chapter and say, "yeah, that actually embodies what I wanted to say". There is a very profound satisfaction in being able to do that.
I agree that many things we do in our free time might not have the qualities I describe above. I do such things too. But I would suggest that hobbies can be serious endeavors, and that the very fact that we love to do them makes them powerful.
>>There is a very profound satisfaction in being able to do that.
For you its writing, for other its music, collecting stamps, playing games or whatever.
Why do you assume writing > everything else?
And if you want to look at it that way, I can say you are leaving a collection of stamps, you are preserving little snippets of history and culture from around the world and through the years. In my case, I might be leaving sick replays of me beating SMW2 World 1 in record time, for other's to watch in awe as I do over other speedrunners' work.
If you kind of look at it, everything can preserved and enjoyed by those coming after us. Stamp collection too in many ways is preservation of history. A game of chess with all its moves recorded, or an epic game of tetris.
Or take food for example. No body can taste what you cooked, but you can write down the recipe and ingredients to the very last gram and people can enjoy it forever.
So you spend your time creating something for other people to consume, then note that the act of consuming it is useless?
With that one you're learning skills which will benefit you IRL. Car breaks down? Don't have to pay a mechanic. Skills may applicable to other machines too. Plenty of hobbies have real benefits. Sports for example - health & fitness.
> I've never played a video game that felt as good as actually doing something in the real world.
I'm a bit confused as to why you're not applying the same reasoning to video games as you are to stamps - that you don't understand it, but there may be something to it. Note that video games are often one of the cheapest hobbies imaginable, so they have higher reach overall than a lot of hobbies that require considerable prep, access to various resources, other people, money, etc.
There are a lot of very different kinds of video games out there, the variety is staggering. You have competitive games, which are in the same department as sports; you have complex creation games like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress; you have virtual worlds like World of Warcraft where you can get immersed in the lore or tackle a difficult objective with other people; you have adventure games where you are taken through an interesting tale (ever played Siberia?). I could go on.
I think most people feel that they're wasting time while playing video games because there's a huge social stigma against them still, and because they're hard to connect to other peoples' experiences and expectations.
Since then I've dropped almost all gaming, reducing it to about 4 hours a week of phone games and shifted to doing outdoor activities like running, biking, ect. PokemonGo has been a way to meld the two.
Everyone wants to hire me to do a minor variation on the same shit ten other companies are doing, and I'm still having most of the same arguments with people I've been having for 15 years, sometimes using articles and books written 40 years ago.
Go outside, get your hands dirty, and stop chasing your tail.
If one's reasoning is reductive enough, literally any activity can be made "meaningless". I find it's best to ignore a third party's evaluation of how you spend your time in most cases; they have their own biases, their own dreams, their own definition for what success and self actualization means.
That is something that you, only you, the consciousness reading these words, can decide.
So, certainly do it if you want and enjoy it. Some things do have objectively more impact than others, though, with your save and games probably not existing unless someone stopped playing theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. That you even like it sort of endorses getting out to create or improve something similar as more meaningful.
And what makes you think that playing games and doing any of those things are mutually exclusive, I might ask? Is reading and writing mutually exclusive? Stop reading, I say! Is the most meaningful moment of your life reading something someone greater than you has written on a piece of paper or a computer disk for profit? (btw nowhere did I say my most meaningful moment was beating a video game, that would be my master's in physics, so far, but that's beside the point) I mean, to paraphrase, certainly do it if you want and enjoy it. Some things do have objectively more impact than others, though, with your book probably not existing unless someone stopped reading theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. That you even like it sort of endorses getting out to create or improve something similar as more meaningful. Rereading this makes me realize how misguided this point is. I assume that it's all or nothing for you, indulge in a hobby and you are a leech on society, incapable of creation and mooching off the work of greater men. Lol.
Supporting your ability to enjoy games, funding better ones, funding your existing one which will have plug pulled, and any arbitrary thing you want in life. Money is a tool to acquire, create, or continue to use other things. I'm endorsing getting enough of it to do that rather than collecting it for its own sake.
" Like mastering SMW2, for example?"
I don't know what SMW2 is. More like any creative hobby that lets you put things into existence or push your mind/body further. People that start these things are usually glad they did. Programming as a hobby can help you build better games, too. Or at least mod the ones you have. Or port them when they're EOL'd.
"going interesting places (sightseeing, such a productive activity)"
How did you find out about the game you like? Doing the same thing over and over that you did as a kid? Or meeting some new people, going to new sites, and so on?
" forming lasting bonds with people (lasting 80 years, tops)."
8-16x longer than most games. Especially when they go abandonware. The people tend to be more useful in other aspects of your life when facing challenges, too. Something you're not so good at or can't currently handle because life just dropped bombs on you. Easy for your friend. Plus, activates those other parts of the brain and its enjoyment that the games can't. I'm saying that from perspective of an anti-social person who usually doesn't want to maintain relationships but knows they led to many rewarding experiences.
"And what makes you think that playing games and doing any of those things are mutually exclusive, I might ask?"
I don't. You just asked what could be more meaningful. I thought that might be easier than people were making out given specific activities led to what you find to be most meaningful. And had people avoided those activities in favor of what you were doing, those things you love would never exist. Each thing you dismissed above had a hand in bringing it into existence. And for many people's happiness and some's economic benefit rather than one person. Turns out those same things did that for other products, services, causes, and so on. Seems doing or building them is more meaningful given the results are what so many, yourself included, find most meaningful. They amplify people's experiences.
"nowhere did I say my most meaningful moment "
Great pride, it was. Glad your more meaninful moment was something that might create more meaning for you and others, though. Maybe money, too, but I don't know much about the industry surrounding physics degrees. I'd imagine research, teaching, and support roles mainly. Example of support would be domain expertise for simulation software for physical phenomenon.
"more impact than others, though, with your book probably not existing unless someone stopped reading theirs for a while to create them with expectation of such impact. "
Now you're getting it...
"Rereading this makes me realize how misguided this point is."
Then lost it...
"I assume that it's all or nothing for you, indulge in a hobby and you are a leech on society, incapable of creation and mooching off the work of greater men. Lol."
A mix is best. If we look at introvert to extrovert ratio, even nature puts it at about 1 out of 4. The brain was meant to both consume and create. Society's structures give different rewards for each in different contexts. So, doing both in an number of contexts is likely most meaningful pursuit if your aiming for best experience as a human. Modified by differences in how people's brains work obviously with some getting no benefit from activities that benefit others.
I sell small leather goods (wallets, belts, etc...) as a hobby now. Its been fun so far.
After I learned to program a few years later, I couldn't enjoy gaming any more. I'd try to play an hour or two here and there, and would get bored pretty quickly. But I eventually got nostalgic of those 20 hours nights. I sometimes miss the focus and dedication I had, even if it was just for a game that didn't bring me anything real, the way I felt while being so focused was enjoyable, not the game itself.
I tried to get back into it now that my life is in a much better position. I know the time I would spend on that wouldn't be spent on anything more relevant as it's time to off my brain. One thing I decided though is that I would only play with my wife; if she'd stop playing, I would too. So far, it has worked great, we've been spending more time together with that and usually help each other stop when we've been playing enough.
So, I thought back on all I did in that time. I noticed the missions were all similar with slight variations. The levels, items, and so on gave me little accomplishments but mostly just changed the numbers or face of the enemy I'd fight. There was also enough time lost to make some real money or do something like apps in the real world. Last time I did MMORPG's.
Closest thing I do these days is Battlefield 4 since it improves my hand-eye coordination, assessment, and adaptation skills as I try new weapons. Plus diverse strategies available for various maps. Keep thinking I need to get back to RTS or TBS games to but I just have a console right now.
Quick disclaimer: I'm primarily talking about WoW here, since that's what I have personal experience with, but most of it should apply in other MMORPGs too, to some degree.
That's absolutely not false, especially as a new player, but at the same time it's not really representative of the "true" experience that people play it for. Yes, questing (especially on low levels) is mostly the same fetch quests over and over with dull combat.
But once (if) you do get past that, there is a much more engaging endgame, where you have 10-30 people (20 at the highest level) who need to execute slightly different strategies, at the same time, more or less flawlessly. Plus, there's all the management stuff in trying to have all those people not get too angry at each other, while hitting their heads against the same boss for hours upon hours, over the course of several days.
So no, they're not flawless, and the levelling process is dull, but it's not really representative of what appeals to us that do play them.
I ignored this possibly because I was playing it solo. Good catch. This is actually similar to the high people get in both RTS and FPS games when coordinating action. A friend and I were doing it last night so fresh on my memory. :) Going to have to redo my analysis of the digital crack aspect to factor this in sometime in the future.
"while hitting their heads against the same boss for hours upon hours, over the course of several days."
That's where I'm already calling it excessive. It's repetitive stuff where you're doing the same things over and over to get an arbitrary number down for ridiculous amount of time. At best, doing it once or twice for an endurance challenge could be a benefit. Past that, this is causing a net loss for the players as alternatives could be happening with better variety, personal improvement, and mini-challenges built in.
For instance, our run on Battlefield 4 last night was a good example. Matchmaking is so broken at our level that deck stayed stacked against us like a boss fight with just two of us vs 2-8 opponents with skill + supporting amateurs. We constantly assessed environment and strategies given we were on land, in water, flying through air, and so on. Buildings varied in whether walls were there, what could get through them, snipers/choppers having line of site, traps, and so on. Weapons were more complex than aim and click with specific wait time, angle, or area of effect. Pro's with vehicles (extra rigged) changed whole dynamic of the above where we had to use weapons, location, pacing, and so on to counter them over period of time with many deaths. The opponents, non being NPC's, had human-level intelligence with a combo of common behaviors and surprising behaviors that were novel + forced us to improve our own tactics/awareness. All of these circumstances and effects hit us over a period of 2 hours. I helped that along by leaving any server that was getting repetitive or too empty.
So, the above experience compared to a mostly-repetitive, MMORPG, boss fight is about a non-comparison in value for the player. I had more depth of gameplay, more novelty, used more of my senses, improved hand-eye coordination, required more strategy, and so on. The benefits of enough such games to me personally & to how I approach situations in future games (tactical strategy & FPS) is clear. Everyone wailing against a boss doing same stuff, it and them, for hours involving mostly some clicks or macros I can't see except moments of hand-eye coordination or improved ability to focus despite boredom or wear. I got those, though.
So, they seem weak for a value proposition vs alternatives. I could see ways to mix that genre with what I described in BF4 run we did. I believe some do already. Meanwhile, playing them sacrifices more experiences than it gains while the supplying organization's numbers continue to go up. :)