greenMinimalism

healthy, independent living

Career Puns Story

A moment before hitting the DEL key, I thought that somebody, somewhere, might find this mildly entertaining…

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned. I just couldn’t concentrate.  Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn’t hack it, so they gave me the axe.  After that, I had a go at being a tailor, but I wasn’t suited for it; it was a sew-sew career.  Next was a job in a shoe factory. I tried but I couldn’t fit in. Then I became a fisherman, yet I soon discovered that I couldn’t live on my net income. My next job, in a lingerie shop, was pants.

After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as an historian – until I realized there was no future in it.  Then, I tried to be a chef – I figured it would add a little spice to my life, but I didn’t have the thyme.  Finally, I saw myself being an optician so I studied hard – but I was always eyeing the receptionist. So I made a spectacle of myself by proposing to her, and I’m still happily married to Iris today.

This Codeword Solver Tool quickly solves any Codeword/Crossword Puzzle Clue!

>> Click here to go to the online codeword solver


As a keen cruciverbalist and consumer of all things cryptic, I’m interested in linguistic games, even when, as in the case of codewords, they involve a little numerical crossbreeding.

About a year ago I was stuck on a fiendish codeword and, not wanting to pay the extortionate rates that papers charge on their puzzle helplines, I decided to create a codeword solver using my rather basic coding skills.

At codewordsolver.com, you can quickly and easily solve codeword and crossword clues. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, the word length of the search term is checked and a list is grabbed which contains all of the dictionary words of that length.
  2. Next, the program goes through the list and chops up all the words into individual letters, with each letter being matched to a number. So the word “green” becomes “1:g, 2:r, 3:e, 4:e , 5:n;” In programming, incidentally, this number-letter correspondence is also called a dictionary.
  3. The search term is also turned into a dictionary and compared against the list.  If my search was “….n”, the fact that the item 5:n is in both the word “green” and the search is enough to qualify “green” for the next stage.
  4. Next, the program essentially converts the search term and the items in the list into a series of just dots and numbers – i.e. it keeps repeated letters and ignores single cases of letters.  So “green” becomes “..00.” and this pattern must match the search term (although the actual numbers used doesn’t matter).
  5. List of all remaining words is outputted.

Even if one used this to solve an entire codeword, I would not really see it as cheating – just an alternative solving method.  Every time you type a pattern and get a list of results, you learn some interesting things and may even expand your lexicon.

I find it fascinating to study the way that words are constructed. English is unique in the vastness of its foreign influences, and several of the most difficult (and sometimes the easiest) crossword/codeword clues are loan words, like “verandah”.  These words do not follow the same letter-ordering logic that characterises most English vocabulary.

When you see an incomplete word, say: r _ _ e _ t _ _, what goes through your mind? Why does the full word suddenly jump into your head on some days, whilst on others nothing comes for hours?  Does the fact that you’ve already read the full word in the article above make it easier to solve?

It’s repeated, by the way.

On the final round of the UK game show Only Connect, cultural things like books titles or names of generals have their vowels deleted, leaving “llt” for Lolita, for example.  The contestants vary widely in their performance in this round.  Half of the contestants never buzz in at all, whilst others seem to be impossibly fast at seeing answers across all knowledge-spheres, like the guy below:

I only get there quicker than the contestants when the category of the clues is something that I know an awful lot about.  Otherwise, I’m slow.  It seems conceivable that you could improve your abilities by solving crosswords/codewords and by playing Scrabble, and I’m sure that you’d become a better conversationalist in the meantime too.  The right words would arise from the deep at the right time.  As you can hear in the first video, I falter in my speech when I come to particular words and sometimes employ the wrong prepositions and other awkward phrases, even though I’m a competent native speaker.  I’d like to know why this happens.

If I had to program a computer to be a good Only Connect player, it would have to contain a database of all cultural phenomena.  Even so, it would take a very large number of operations for the string with the missing vowels to be checked against all potential matches within the correct cultural category.  Does the human mind really perform thousands of operations when it completes the vowels, solves an anagram or produces a codeword answer?  Something to ponder over a glass of wine (a little wine seems to boost my delivery; I can’t find any research to suggest that this is an acknowledged effect though).

Goodbye

As early as a month ago I had grand plans for this blog. I wanted to continue writing a post three times a week for the next few years until greenMinimalism became a well-known voice in the minimalist blogosphere.

However, life has intervened. I’m still having some difficulty with internet addiction and have therefore decided to sell my laptop. Internet access from now on must be got from the library, and this will not facilitate regular posting. Furthermore, I have lost the motivation to continue writing on new topics and feel that I have already pretty much said all that I want to say here. To write anything new would just be to rephrase the old.

Before I leave, I’m going to delete the chaff and just try to keep the best information that I produced, leaving a core of posts that should inspire anyone to cut down, exercise more and get healthy. I should also add that I feel bad in some sense for “creative lying”. I sung the praises of meditation even though I stopped meditating myself, admittedly, after a long period of getting no results. I was also pushing my luck in terms of the claims that I was making in post titles. All successful blogs (Pavlina or Altucher) seem to over-advertise themselves using such tricks, i.e. “5 Reasons Why I Want My Kids To Take Drugs”. I fear that this ridiculous self-promoting behavior was starting to seep into my blog style too. Another good reason to quit the blogging realm.

Cheers,

Eric

More Anti-Car Propaganda: Seamus Heaney – Mid-Term Break Analysis

Seamus Heaney – Mid Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o’clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying–
He had always taken funerals in his stride–
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were “sorry for my trouble,”
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Basic Analysis (Michael Woods, Sheerpoetry)

“The subject of this poem is the death of Seamus Heaney’s younger brother, Christopher who was killed by a car at the age of four. It is a tremendously poignant poem and its emotional power derives in large measure form the fact that Heaney is very muted and understated with respect to his own emotional response. He chooses to focus more upon the reaction of his parents in order to convey the shocking impact of the death of their little boy. Usually, we must careful not to assume the “I” in a poem is, in fact, the poet. In this case, though, we may be sure that Mid-Term Break is purely and intensely autobiographical [...]

Just as there are “No gaudy scars” visible on the poor child’s body, so too there is no lurid concentration upon injury or any self-indulgent displays of grief. The final line is, in a sense, “knocked clear” of the rest of the poem through Heaney’s decision to separate it. There is a heartbreaking logic in the statement that reminds us both of the small stature of the child and the brevity of his young life.”

My Thoughts

The movement of verbs in the first stanza rushes the reader through the long experience of waiting “in the college sick bay”.  The subject “sat”, “counting” the “knelling” bells and was driven home; his passivity is contrasted with the oscillatory potency of the bells which continue to chime “classes to a close”.  The thick alliteration and insistent lateral consonant “l’s” help to first concretize the strong image of tolling bells before the next line moves briskly away from such padded language with an everyday time expression and bare idiomatic report.

At the beginning of the second stanza, the adjective “crying” hangs at the end of the line: “in the porch I met my father crying”, so it could refer to either the father or the subject.  Since the first person speaker has so far remained a detached observer, we assume that the adjective attaches to the father, and the following lines bear this out.  The assonance of “stride” and “crying” links two features of the father together – he is strong, but not strong enough to hold the family crisis chronicled in the poem.  The fact that he is a “father crying” and not a “crying father”, and that he is standing in the porch, on the fringe of the home – represents the sudden alienation that he feels from his own household.  The order has been shaken.

Thus we see a number of other masculine figures (Big Jim Evans) hoping to provide limp consolation; their graveness throws in sharp relief the cheeriness of the baby who is somehow unaware of the upsetting events unfolding around its pram.  There is death in the poem, but there is, here, a vision of insouciant life.  Once again, we have a word – “embarrassed” – that just seems to dangle, and we might think for a moment that the speaker is embarrassed about his tiny sibling’s lack of appreciation for the morose, elegiac mood.  However, it is revealed to be the self-consciousness of the narrator that is responsible for the moment of shame.  He is a shy adolescent who dislikes suddenly becoming the center of considerate attention.  The awkwardness is reflected in the comma break in the middle of the line, which breaches the lilting iambic rhythm of “the baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram” and turns the poem towards introspective brooding.

“Whispers” become self-contained entities which threaten the privacy of the speaker.  And the act of holding hands ends two consecutive stanzas, somehow equating the mother’s touch with those of the old men and making the whole gesture lose any comfort value that it once had.  Furthermore, as the mother holds the speaker’s hand, enjambment continues into the next stanza with the redundant “in hers”. There is a sense of estrangement and hollowness; the subject’s passivity extends to the fact that he doesn’t even reciprocate his mother’s grief-stricken attempt at affection.

The unpoetic detail that “at ten o’clock the ambulance arrived” recalls the semantically identical line from the first stanza.  There is a haunting echo, perhaps, of an announcement of death: “at four o’clock 4-year old Christopher Heaney was hit by a car”.  The repetitive focus on time and measurements in the poem: “two o’clock, the eldest, ten o’clock, six weeks, four foot box” illustrates the awareness of the importance of time, a unique awareness that only the death of a child can provide.  Even the “four foot box” connects to this: the coffin stands out in the way that it symbolizes the tragic youth of the corpse inside.

The poem is ultimately about a “hard blow” in at least two senses.  While the “bumper knocked [the brother] clear”, the car also strikes down his family.  We are left with a mixture of measurements and sparse poetic devices juxtaposed with banal statements of fact.  Candles are able to “sooth the bedside”, yet nothing is able to warm the despondency of the speaker.  Lifeless objects move about whilst people stand helplessly still.  The car that the speaker gets in at 2 o’clock and the ambulance that arrives at 10 o’clock are in fact potential murder accessories that are capable of even more senseless killings.  The experience of the poem is enervating, and I suggest that it is because the death of a child on the road is such a vapid, trite and horrifyingly meaningless incident that it drains the significance of everything.  Roadkill happens all the time, it leaves not a scar, and although your favorite brother may have died, you can climb into another car yourself the very same day.

Facts About Sugar Overload in Western Culture

In local small supermarkets a number of things are striking. Firstly, the bright lighting, cool temperature and lack of windows are highly conducive to making you spend time in the store. Secondly, the volume and sheer choice of colorful, appealing, recognizable and SUGAR OVERLOADED products are arranged to overwhelm you.

Food manufacturers exploit the addictive effects of sugar and add as much sugar as they can to every type of food. Jaffa Cakes or Jammie Dodgers are staple sugary snacks, and a single biscuit provides over 6g of sugar. Investigating the amount of sugar in oranges also reveals a worrying trend: just as supermarkets only select perfect-looking fruits, the amount of sugar in fruit has been increased to supply the demands of supermarkets.

Consumers prefer sugary fruits, so farmers don’t cultivate more savoury varieties. This increase in sugar can be easily charted: for example, in 1978, Kellogg’s Special K had 9.6g of sugar per 100g, but this has now nearly doubled to 17g. The most well-known offender, a single can of Coca-Cola, contains 39g of sugar, a large percentage of the roughly 90g ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’. Even 90g of sugar seems like a huge amount to be consuming in one day, considering our not-so-distant ancestors ate only 7g a day on average in 1822 and certainly not the refined and calorie-packed sugar that is widely popular today. Some experts say that we don’t require sugar at all.

In 1998 Dr DesMaisons published her famous book Potatoes Not Prozac which shows how sugar acts like an analgesic drug. In fact, there has been a rising demand for sugar since the 18th century when the British working class took sugar to dull the pains of the Industrial Revolution. The slaves cutting the sugar cane lived in even worse conditions. Up to today there is widespread poor treatment of sugar plantation workers, such as those in the Dominican Republic.

There are connections between sugar and obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, teeth issues and cardiovascular disease. Short terms effects include tiredness and a weaker immune system once the superficial “sugar high” has died down. Most people seem to know of the problems of sugar, but they still drink added sugar fruit juice, eat desserts after every meal and have the occasional biscuit or carbonated drink. This all adds up to a terrifyingly unchecked amount of daily sugar. Since sugar is dirt cheap, the epidemic will never go away by itself. Sugar has pervaded almost every sort of food and officials have as yet done little to drive away what most people will maintain is little more than a guilty habit.

Cigarettes used to be ubiquitous in Western society. Political campaigns in the USA were heavily sponsored by tobacco makers and their adverts appeared frequently on television. The 1960s heralded many scientific discoveries that would lead to the government’s onslaught against smoking. Although sugar is probably not as harmful as tobacco (although an article in the British Medical Journal in 2005 says sugar is at least as harmful or worse), soon there must be a backlash against the exponentially growing “sugar culture” in Western society and much of the rest of the world.

10 Reasons Why You Should Start Skipping

As frequent readers of this blog may have realized, I’m mad about skipping. Every 30-60 minutes I see it as a holy duty to jump out of my chair and start bouncing around outside until my blood is gushing around my body.

Skipping is a really fast, efficient and convenient way to exercise. For those who are allergic to running or scared of swimming or just plain lazy when it comes to leaving the house, skipping is for you. There’s no need to change clothes or lock up – just jump rope for as little or as long as you want, and I guarantee that you will get a great burst of energy out of it.

It looks like I’m already using items from the list, so now I’m going to give you 10 more reasons why you should skip:

  1. Skipping puts less impact on your joints than running does. If you’ve had nasty running injuries before, as I have done, then this is the perfect alternative.
  2. It’s a full body workout which uses your abs to stabilize the body, legs for jumping, shoulders and arms for turning the rope.
  3. One hour of fast skipping burns 1300 calories. Okay, I don’t think I’ve ever skipped for over 10 minutes in a row, but when I add together all my miniature workouts, I must be burning off some serious calories! No wonder why I’m so lean!
  4. Because skipping is weight bearing, it boosts a person’s bone density, helping to fend off osteoporosis. A miniature weights workout, if you like.
  5. The effort it takes to jump rope for 10 minutes is the equivalent of running a mile in eight minutes. Wow. And it’s much easier to do!
  6. It costs nothing to work out, beyond the price of the rope! I recommend that you get an expensive, long-lasting sports rope with weighted handles if you’re as serious about this as I am.
  7. Skipping improves the muscle tone in your legs and lower body. After the first day of jumping rope, you will get a healthy soreness in your calf muscles – this is because the muscles have been working hard enough to cause microtears, which heal, thus giving you tone!
  8. It aids co-ordination, balance and flexibility. Keeping upright whilst jumping at the correct moment whilst increasing your speed whilst moving backwards must have huge benefits. I hope.
  9. I’m running out of points now, so I’ll trot out the standard propaganda: “skipping helps to improve heart rate and blood pressure…” Nothing unique about skipping in this department though.
  10. I’m officially out of points. I’ll repeat my sentence about it giving you greater energy and concentration when you return to your work.

Don’t be embarrassed. Please get outside and skip till your legs give in!

Get A Creative Job or Die Trying!

I’ve just returned from a painting assignment. I had to paint a friend’s wall, and they allowed me to choose the color that would be most “appropriate to the ambience”. I felt flattered to be given such a weighty responsibility, and opted for blue – the hue of the sky, the sea and the Virgin Mary.

It’s all about striking a balance between a color that augments the mood of the surroundings and is also pragmatic to apply. Generally, the darker the paint, the fewer coats that you need to use, and the less dirt shows up. A big white wall looks rather too much like a blank canvas waiting to become the receptacle of a spray-canned montage of teenager’s “tags”.

Once you possess a reputation for being a competent painter amongst your friends and community, it’s amazing how many jobs crop up. And the jobs that you do for neighbors and comrades in one form or another are the best. You get coffee and conversation and a warm feeling of satisfaction after the fact.

I am in the almost unique position in that I can drive around my adopted town and note MY work. In a few years time, you bet that my azure-blue fortifaction will stand as a palimpsest of my painting ability. Can an insurer, or banker, or even most engineers trace their output like these? They cannot, and that is a large part of why those careers are unsatisfying.

I’m not usually a fan of big ideas, but Marx’s Theory of Alienation is a fantastic piece of thought that modern society needs to notice. Put simply, it records the way that capitalism rarely gives you the results of your own labor. You make a product, but it’s whisked away to somebody else, and you don’t determine who gets it, and you’re not given a fair price for making it anyway. If you were given a fair price, then the capitalists wouldn’t make any profit. RAR!

This theory encapsulates the way that I used to feel as an insurer. I performed a complicated series of operations – creative in their own fashion – under somebody else’s directive, for somebody else, and it was unlikely that my efforts ever amounted to anything. I was left with a sense of hollowness as I shuffled home after a stresful day of futility. I was an industrial worker.

If I compare the emptiness to the satisfaction that I get from painting a wall or tutoring children, I’m comparing a well-paid jobs that give no results to lower-paid jobs that make me feel like a human. I’ll take the human jobs any day.

If you can support yourself as an artist, or a musician, as a writer, then you are in a wonderful position that everyone should envy. Everything that you do is left to posterity. You stamp your creations with your individuality instead of being a commodity-outputting drone. It’s no wonder that so many people paint, write and compose in their spare time but only the most dull, closeted businessmen bank purely for fun.

Do whatever you can to get a creative career, even if it means accepting as humble a post as painter. It’s the only way that you’ll leave something behind you. Mozart died aged 35, yet he left behind more than 99.99% people would even if they lived to age 350. He was absorbed in the drug of creativity: that focus that elevates you above caring for mundanity. Yes, even I get it whilst I stroke my brush across bricks. Get a creative job or die trying.

Why are nonconformists more open/sociable than conformists?

Why is it that people who are nonconformists and freethinkers (like all of us here), tend to be more open, comfortable and sociable with strangers, whereas mainstream conformists and materialistic people tend to be more cliquish and not as open with strangers?

Have any of you noticed this pattern? Is there a reason for this?

It also seems that highly materialistic people are more cliquish and less open with strangers than non-materialistic people are. Ever notice that too? Why is that?

As far as I know, the most friendly and open people in the world that are the easiest to chat up and the least stuck up, are the following:

- Nonconformist/freethinker types
– People in poor or third world countries
– Elderly or middle age folks
– Hippies or people who call themselves “freespirits”, the type that go to Rainbow Gatherings (though they tend to be flaky)
– Perpetual traveler types or nomads
– Great writers and philosophers
– Spiritually-oriented non-materialistic types
– New Age types and Paranormal/UFO enthusiasts
– Artistic people (though not all, for there are many artistic snobs too)

Why is that?

But mainstream conformists in first world countries (USA, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, etc.) who do not fit the categories above, and are square, live to work, materialistic and only care about their career, marriage, house and errands, (such as all my cousins) are not that open with strangers. Nor do they seem capable of holding intelligent down to earth discussions and exchanges. It’s like they are zombies run by instincts or something. Really weird. Ever notice that?

They aren’t even on a down to earth wavelength where you can have an intelligent civil conversation with them – not even an articulate conversation like the talk shows you see on TV. And their social skills suck ass totally. It’s like they are in a different zone or frequency. It’s hard to explain what I mean. Have any of you noticed what I’m talking about? It’s like trying to talk to a zombie. Really weird.

Why are most or many mainstream people like this? It’s really freaky and creepy. They seem so inhuman. Why do I feel this way? Am I insane or are they?

So why are nonconformists usually more friendly and sociable with strangers than conformists? And why are materialistic people more cliquish and less open with strangers than non-materialistic people? Is there a logical explanation? Anyone want to take a crack at it?

Also, have you noticed that if you say something simple like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” to a mainstream conformist, they will say the same back, but as soon as you say anything outside the box or get them to think about something, they just ignore you as if you are weird? WTF? Why is thinking so abnormal in the mainstream conformist world? It’s like the Twilight Zone, where I feel like I am the last sane person alive on the planet! LOL

Any of you ever feel that way?


By WWu777; a member of AboveTopSecret.com - Why are nonconformists more open/sociable than conformists?

The Best Way to Learn a Language: The Program

So, we’ve finally arrived at the ultimate language learning program. There are no cheap and easy hacks here; I simply recommend consistent, disciplined work with the very best learning resources.

Let’s say we wanted to learn French. We’d:

41-ii4kT6hL1. Get hold of the French Made Simple book or the Berlitz Self-Teacher: French if you like a more simple, picture-based style, and work through a lesson a day. This should take around half an hour. You should review the content of the past lessons too.

These books are structured to be perfect and complete introductions into the target language, steadily immersing you in more complicated grammar and associating the entire process with a narrative, which helps you remember vocabulary.

Michel Thomas Method

2. At the same time, go on frequent strolls whilst listening to the Michel Thomas or Pimsleur tapes. This supplements the learning experience via a different sensory channel and teaches you pronunciation whilst making you fit!

3. OPTIONAL: After a month of progress in this fashion, work at a grammar book, say the Practice Makes Perfect series. This really sharpens your understanding of the way that the French actually use the language. If the idea of grammar scares you, though, this stage can be skipped and you can…

French Readers

4. Dive straight into the target culture (after completing the introductory courses). You can start reading novels, newspapers and magazines. With common languages like French, this is particularly easy to do as there are webzines like Le Monde and readers which provide side-by-side translations.

5. Once more, you need to supplement your reading with listening. As Stuart M pointed out in another post, tuning into online radios and renting DVDs in French would be an excellent, albeit challenging way to continue accumulating knowledge of the way that French is used.

At this stage you should be experiencing whatever interests you, as different materials will be using very different lexicons – for instance, reading a teen magazine won’t give you much of a bridge into classical novels. Reading classical novels is the best way to get good at reading classical novels – in French as in English.

6. Visit the country. As I explained previously, I don’t think that immersion works as a primary learning strategy. It’s something that should come at the end of a program of study, when you are ready to bathe in a foreign language and are good enough to actually converse well with natives. Otherwise you’ll simply mentally inhabit your own language, without the confidence to fully utilize your holiday as a learning aide.

So that’s all. I hate to make wild claims as some other language blogs do, but by following these steps, you should reach an excellent standard in around a year. The most important thing that you enjoy the study, or at least hold the final goal as such a high priority that you incessantly spend time achieving it everyday.

Never miss a day and never stray from the straight path that I have hopefully outlined here. The fast progress that you make should be the best motivation for you to continue.

3 Ways You Can Break A Bad Habit Or Addiction Fast

First of all, big apologies for my absence over the last few days. I’ve had a serious bacterial illness, and living in an RV without a bathroom in my condition has not been fun! Anyway, my convalescence got me thinking about bad habits (you don’t get the chance to indulge any when you’re sick!)

Several years ago, I acknowledged that the internet was my ‘bad habit’ or addiction. Most people wouldn’t accept the internet as being a real addiction and only think of excessive smoking, alcoholism and other destructive physical behaviors as being ‘genuine’ bad habits. I disagree with such notions.

There was a time when ‘obsessively thinking about sex’ had no psychological diagnosis, too. It was seen as just a form of laziness, a failure to reign in urges. And video game addiction was not included as a diagnosis even in the brand new edition of the DSM.

“Californication” star David Duchovny made headlines for voluntarily entering rehab a few years ago for sex addiction. I think that people are surprised that there is such a thing as ‘sex rehab’, and they’re simultaneously excited by the idea. People love to discover things about others that are taboo and hidden from view.

Just as celebrities play a twisted public/private game with what they choose to reveal about themselves, I think that oddly we hide our own addictions from ourselves even as we are aware of them. I knew that I used the internet far too much, to the point that it gravely damaged to my social and familial relationships. Yet I escaped from the faint feeling of guilt by browsing webpages more to try to find ways to stop browsing the web!

I was looking for a solution from within the problem!

The same goes for hard drinkers who become drunk to escape their lives, lives which have gone downhill largely as a result of alcohol. Or smokers who smoke more to handle stressful financial situations which wouldn’t be quite as bad had they not spent so much of their incomes on a commodity which ruins their health.

So I’d define a serious addiction as a habit that becomes a solution to its own problems. It’s a circular descent down to a false Shangri-La that leaves you incapable of facing the real world. That’s why the internet, gaming and even coffee could all be addictions – it’s not the product, but the brain state of the inveterate user that matters.

How to deal with such a treacherous self-consuming obsession? Here’s how I stemmed my internet addiction:

1. Tell everyone that you’re going to quit your addiction for a week

Publicly announcing a goal is proven to make it far more difficult to relapse during your week of hell. You’ll have the negative opinion of others to face up to if you go back on your word.

2. Remove all ‘quarantined materials’

We’re going to call anything that triggers your habit a ‘quarantined material’. Such items must be removed from your household at once. Trash the television, lock up the laptop, incinerate the cigarettes. If you eat too much, like most Americans (who on average eat 150% calories worth of the recommended daily allowance), then simply empty the house of comestibles and don’t head down to the supermarket at any cost.

3. Find a substitute activity

During your week of purity, you’re likely to continue to receive mind-urges to get involved in your addiction in some way. In my case, every time I ran into a piece of information which I didn’t know much about – say, the meaning of the word ‘comestible’ – I was desperate to run to the nearest computer and look it up. I substituted in a nice dictionary and encyclopedia, and adjusted to using these instead. An alcoholic could simply drink loads of water; a smoker has nicotine patches to replace cigarettes.

4. Profit

After a week has passed, you might give yourself a day of indulgence before trying a month off.

I usually recommend a kind of cognitive therapy for achieving goals, but physical denial is the only route forward. I think that addictions hack your mind, and the only way to escape the circle is to remove the material activator of the habit.

Have you struggled with major addictions? Did you find this strategy useful? I’d love it hear about it below.

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