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I've been searching for years now, trying to find the "secret" that explains why smart, normal people would choose to play a video game instead of make progress in real life. Why would anybody do this??? Video games are obviously not real. They don't make you smarter or better at succeeding in life - it's quite the opposite. Video games take up free time that you could use to exercise, hang out with friends, or cook up a nice meal.
It really does explain everything. This is why gamers are so miserable when they don't get to play - they can't use their attention to sort through their emotions.
Most successful people learn on their own, that they should accept things they can't change, and commit themselves to achieving important goals. Because this is THE winning strategy if you want to get somewhere in life. They do this by automatically using their attention to "observe and accept" the feelings that are pulling them in different directions, so that they can use logic to plan a way forward - this "decision-making" happens automatically. This creates a "gut instinct" that propels them forward: earning money, getting work done, forming and maintaining close relationships with other successful people, and spending time enjoying the pleasures of life (since they can afford it after getting so much work done). What a great way to live!
Gaming addicts lose the ability to "observe and accept" their emotions, because their attention is distracted. They're too distracted to go through the "decision-making" process, where they listen to different emotions and decide which ones are valid, and their life crumbles to a halt.
It's an endless cycle until they learn to observe their thoughts, "accept" the feelings that are distracting, and empower their logical self to commit to a better future. In this article, we'll go through each of these steps, and explain why this method works so well.
If only Yoda had any idea how much destruction Anakin would cause...
Most of the time, we don't even realize how we "feel" - we are too quickly thinking about "acting". This is great when our feelings line up with our goals!
But sometimes, we might notice that we are doing things that are not in our own interest - like playing video games all night instead of sleeping. Or not eating properly anymore. Some might say that we are having fun and living in the moment.
However, when the brain is working properly, it is looking not only at the present - it looks at the past, and it looks at the future, and using stories from each, it calculates how to invest effort in the present.
When you are overcome with emotion, the brain stops thinking about the past and future, and instead, only thinks about the present. You might not think that this is because of emotions, and I didn't used to think so either. "Feelings are for women" I used to think. But really, when you play video games all night, it's because you are feeling intense emotions, which changes the chemistry of your brain and alters your judgment and how you feel. This is bad if you are young and should be getting ahead in life - and it's all because your overpowering emotions are making it difficult to make logical decisions.
So this first step is to learn to meditate: find a comfortable position and observe your thoughts. You can breathe deeply if you prefer, just relax and watch each thought. Is there a pattern to your thinking? Are you preoccupied about something? Do you feel bad about something that happened recently? Do you smile when a happy thought appears? Are you thinking about the distant past? Are you thinking about things that you need to get done soon? Are you worried about what someone else said?
How quickly are you having thoughts? Are they calm? Are they panicked? Do you feel guilty? Do you notice any strong feelings?
You should gather up all these thoughts, and then ask yourself, "How am I feeling?". Sometimes you don't even realize you have feelings, until you realize your thoughts are centered around a certain topic.
In the Star Wars clip, Anakin claims he's not feeling afraid. But the Jedi Council notices his thoughts are centered around his mother, and Yoda replies, "You're afraid to lose your mother." Anakin's just trying to ignore his feelings and tough it out. He doesn't realize how bad this can be though, and how badly it can affect your logic and behavior, if you don't pay attention to how you feel.
And that's how feelings work. They change the speed of your thoughts, the strength of your thoughts, and sometimes they make it more difficult to act logically instead of impulsively.
Once you become aware of your feelings, you can start to think, "You know, having all these overpowering feelings all the time is just slowing me down from getting where I want to go." Once you realize you've reached that point, it becomes so incredibly simple to:
It takes a while to get better at managing your emotions. But once you get better at observing these impulses, video games will become more unsavory the more you think about them, because you realize how badly they affect your attention and your logical self. After you get really good at this process, you will probably feel a lot different, and you might start to think, "Video games really do make it difficult to think logically, I don't know why my attention gets fascinated by them so easily."
Let's continue on with the topic of "accepting" your emotions.
Sometimes people avoid feeling bad by distracting themselves. Sometimes it's best to accept feeling bad for a while, because it makes your attention better able to deal with uncomfortable emotions.
Far too often, when we feel strong emotions, we instinctively act out in some way. Sometimes this can cause us to do things that are counterproductive in the long-term.
For instance, let's go back to Anakin from Star Wars. After his mom got killed by the sand people, he ran off and slayed a whole village of sand people - as if that would make him feel better. If only he would have just settled down and realized that he doesn't have to act out on every emotion he feels - that sometimes, the best thing to do when you have strong emotion, is to just observe it and notice how it affects your thoughts.
The harder thing to do, is to accept how you feel, without acting out in any way. This skill can be built up over time. The goal is never to deprive yourself of all emotions. But rather, to decrease the intensity of the emotions that are out of control, so you can logically sort out how you want to feel.
You can do this while meditating, or throughout your day, or maybe whenever you feel especially distracted. Focus on what you are feeling, and then observe different thoughts that you have, and how they are affected by your emotions.
Over time, as your attention becomes stronger, you will get better at observing and accepting your emotions and understand how they influence your thoughts. You will get better at focusing your attention on becoming successful, so you can win in real life.
Star Wars has its flaws, but in some ways, it definitely has a point. Mindfulness is essential for rational behavior. It lets you accept things you can't change, and commit yourself towards the things that you can change. The tool you use to make this happen is your attention, because it's what you use to prioritize your emotions.
LoL might make you feel like you need to rank up. The internet might make you feel like you need to watch every YouTube video or read every article. But if you focus your attention on observing this feeling, instead of acting out on it, you can keep in control. This gives you the ability to work towards a happier future.
The future can look daunting or it can look beautiful. You can control how you feel about it.
Once you train yourself to observe and accept your emotions, the better you will be able to think logically and control your actions. As you gain momentum, your "gut instinct" will take over, and the easier it will be to make decisions that would potentially paralyze you in the past.
It is easy to judge your past actions, your thoughts, your feelings. Every time you make a judgment, it tends to amplify your feelings. As you become better at observing and accepting how you feel, you might notice the emotions produced each time you make a judgment, and how counterproductive it is to weigh yourself down with all this emotion.
Real change takes time and daily practice. Your brain has all it needs to figure itself out. If you notice yourself slipping up, you need to give your mind more time to accept its emotions, and remember what's important. Just give it the time to work through all these thoughts and feelings logically, and you'll start realizing how much easier it is to make decisions.
You might also realize how negativity saps out your energy. Instead of seeing a past failure as a total loss, see it as a lesson that has already been paid for. Instead of seeing the future as a daunting battle to be avoided, see it as an opportunity to grow.
You might even start to feel like life is more fun than a video game, because even though you need to have a longer attention span, it's exciting to have more at stake. Video games become predictable after a while, but real life will always have surprises you can never anticipate.
Now that you know the secret - that video games cause people's emotions to overpower their attention - you can begin working in the right direction to observe and accept your emotions, strengthen your attention, and commit yourself to a happier future. Thanks for reading!