Of Addiction and Fixation: The Power of Mindfulness

addictionI have wanted to talk about addiction, fixation, and their relation with disengagement for a while, but my first attempt turned into a post taking about how to multitask more efficiently instead. I guess the saying about the words forming its own course is true. Nevertheless, here’s my second attempt, and I have broaden the scope of the topic from disengagement to mindfulness. Let’s hope this time it stayed true to its intended course – not that I don’t enjoy a detour every now and then 😉

As an avid gamer, I am no stranger towards getting addicted to a certain game and would play on for hours until I have wrapped up loose ends (read: sub-quests) or progressed through a major plotline (read: checkpoint). Fortunately for me, it’s no physical addiction, so I won’t have to deal with relapses, and could choose to simply not to game if something urgent and important is seen on the horizon. Nonetheless, getting addicted is disruptive to my life. My schedule would be messed up, and I have to find extra time and effort to keep everything up to schedule. That is not healthy. It could and would cut into my precious time that I could spend with my family and friends, on recreational activities, my other hobbies, or even worse, on my sleep time.

What Eats You? The Quantified Diet Project

Mediterranean DietYou may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. Well that is true – except, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Too many people have turned to dieting in their quest to lose weight, only to found out what they lost was patience; but, that is not to say that diet doesn’t help. I mentioned in this post that what worked for others, might not work for you, and the same applies to diet. For example, Tony Stubblebine, founder and CEO of Lift, has tried six different diets as of the 2nd of January, and found out only one diet provided him with significant and lasting weight loss: less sugar.

Still, trying out all the different diets out there all by yourself might be a stretch. Fortunately, you are not alone in this quest. Lift, in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley, has started a massive, app-based study aiming to collect data on the effectiveness of 10 popular diets in weight loss and health improvement, and these diets include Paleo, gluten-free, and Slow-Carb. This research differs from other survey-based study in that it has a more robust and rigorous design, where you get a group going through randomized trials and a control group, so that you can compare the data between the 10 diets AND the two groups. This should lead to a more scientifically valid result, and more likely to let people find out which diet is working for them without having to go through the hassle of trying out each and every diets out there.

Dark Souls: A Way to Game, A Way to Life

Dark SoulsI mentioned that I am an avid gamer in the About page, but the posts so far has nothing to do with games. It feels kinda unjustified that I call myself an “avid gamer”. So, I think it’s about time that I make a post on games. I dug up an old game that I have never gotten around to finish it, and start playing it anew. The next time I check, I thought “Wow! It’s been a week since I last posted here! Time sure flies.” That’s usually what happened when you pick up a game like Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. It’s not the most addictive games I have played (that honour goes to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), nor the one I have invested the most hours into (that would be Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale), but I think it’s fair to call it one of the most unique game ever produced, and certainly ranked among the best on my list.

Being marketed as an action role playing game in medieval fantasy setting, it goes without saying that there is some hacking and slashing, swords, shields, magicks, dungeons, dragons, the usual. What separate this game from most of its peers, is depth. Its refined combat, centered on unique stamina-based play style and varied enemies that demands you to adapt accordingly or die tying (that’s not a pun); the beautiful world in its sunset, giving off the radiance of everything it once was but no longer, foreshadowing its impending doom; the ever elusive lore of the world, shrouded in mystery, yet every brick and stone gives off a vibe: that the land you are stepping on is brimming with history, and if you look hard enough, it may occasionally offers you a glimpse into its rich past. These all offer something unique to the overall experience of the game, but more than that, they offer something that is at the core of the game’s philosophy: grow, or decay, there is no stagnation (that reminds me of Yoda).

4 Steps to Self-Empowerment: Learning through 守、破、離 (Shyu, Ha, Ri)

ShyuHaRiA few months back I went book hunting and came across a book with an interesting title. I recognized the three words from the title straight away: Shyu, Ha, Ri, of which they represents a system, a way of thinking that have roots deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, and are prominent among the practitioners of tea ceremony, Go, martial arts, and even Zenism. As an avid fan of Japanese culture, it piqued my interest as to how the author was going to apply it to building success in life.

Turns out, the book ingrained the system into education as well as life-long learning as a means to achieve self-empowerment and through it, success in life. To put it simply, Shyu is to obey the teachings completely; Ha is to reevaluate the teachings, then alter, optimize, and even create new methods based on the teachings that best suit your own style; Ri is where you integrate the teachings into your system, and became a master of your own right. The book gives many genuine examples that are easily related to, and its ideas resonate with Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, that success is not found, but rather, it ensue after you no longer focus on success and dedicated yourself to the pursuit of greatness. Based on my understanding of the system as well as the book, I have rearranged them into 4 steps:

Chinese Made…Somewhat Easy…I Hope: Reading

springA while ago a friend of mine expressed the desire to learn Chinese and asked whether I could help. At the time I thought, ‘sure why not?’. Having learnt Chinese as my first language and having used it for the majority of my life, I figured I might be of help, and was all fired up and ready to put on my scholarly hat and assume the role of a teacher. Well, that didn’t come to pass. As it turns out, physical distance is an issue, and traveling regularly to attend (or teach) private lessons requires commitment, one that I wasn’t sure if either of us were ready to give.

Fortunately, an acceptable workaround was found. My friend had some basic skills in terms of listening and speaking Chinese, so I thought starting on reading skills would be essential in order to build a solid foundation for the eventual mastery of the language (one can hope after all 🙂 and who am I to stop someone from striving for their goal 😉 ). After some search, I was able to find the perfect learning material – well, almost – in the form of four workbooks designed for beginners: simple, straightforward, focused on understanding the words rather than mere memorization, and most importantly, came with English instructions. These workbooks are gold, it’s like the Kanabō to the Oni, the Genie to Aladdin, or the Firebolt to Quidditch player; with these in hand, teaching Chinese would be a breeze.