How to become aroused by yourself (in 20 minutes or less)

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I started cooking around 5, unaware it would start an argument. I was in Auckland, running out of money, overwhelmed by the prospect of a job search with no contacts in a foreign country. My whole life, job searching had terrified me at the best of times. This was not the best of times.

I’d been loafing in the same K-Road hostel for about three weeks, and with both my cash and confidence dwindling, the best part of my day had become the hard-boiled egg with spaghetti and pesto I had for every dinner.

“Dinner at 5? Not very sexy!” the Italian girl said, hovering behind me somewhere. I didn’t disagree, but I don’t eat dinner to be sexy. Before I could think of something clever to say, the middle-aged Bostonian appeared at the counter.

“Oh, we know, you Europeans are very uptight about appearing relaxed, and so you eat when the people you think you’re superior to are thinking about going to bed. Americans eat at six o’clock.” He looked to me and nodded.

“Five is too early. Six is too early,” said Tommy, the Irishman who funded his travels by live betting on soccer and cricket. He was glued to the TV but listening.

“I’m hungry,” I explained.

I could hear Alessandra roll her gigantic eyes. The American repeated himself, this time thumping his fist on the counter for each word. “Americans eat at six o’clock.”

Alessandra flung her hands up in the air and called us “Fucking yankees,” which was the second of three times I would be called a fucking yankee on that trip.

“I’m Canadian,” I said. “But I eat when I’m hungry, which is usually six o’clock.”

She started into it again and I left it to the the Bostonian. In the ensuing argument a whole list of stolen Italian cultural icons came up from both sides: espresso, gelati, mafia archetypes, Christopher Columbus, sports cars. I wished they would leave. They were ruining the best part of my day, which was already pretty bleak.

This inane, inter-cultural debate was the last thing I remember before I was struck with what might have been the biggest revelation of my life. I remember tuning out the arguing, and staring into my pesto, and having an extremely dark thought: after I ate my dinner, the best part of my day would be over, and it was all shit until the next time I made dinner.

The thought made me so sad I felt dizzy. I went out on the balcony even though it was grey and drizzling. I breathed and reminded myself just to watch my breathing and let my thoughts talk themselves in circles if they wanted to.

In a minute or two, (or ten?) the jabbering of the argument in the kitchen seemed like a long time ago and the ambient sound of the city took over. Cars driving on wet streets, distant honking, wind.

My mind was clear and I could see that the look and sound of the city represented the facts of things, and the mess of fearful thoughts that had momentarily left me represented the negative spin I habitually put on all of it.

I had always assumed I was an optimist, because I was so hopeful. But clearly I was preoccupied with the negative side of everything and had been all my life. This was a shock to me but it sure explained a lot. 

Life is where the weight is

On this blog I’ve often said “Insight is not enough.” We’ve all had breakthroughs in our thinking, but they only make our lives change if they make our behavior change. I’ve known I veer strongly toward pessimism for over two years now, but I am still in the habit of seeing every new development in terms of its potential pains and difficulties.

Clearly one mindset is more empowering than the other and I want to move in the direction of optimism. I am and always have been surrounded by opportunity and advantage, and I’ve given up so much of what I want because I overestimate the costs and risks of everything I want.

What pessimism amounts to, at least for me, is a preoccupation with thoughts about what I don’t want. I have always given these thoughts more weight than thoughts about what I want.

And that leads to long-term complications, which can send your entire life to places you might not want to go. There are a million examples, but here’s a prominent one in my life: I would very often decline going to a social event because I feared I’d get bored, or spend too much money, or have trouble finding a way home, or feel underdressed, or have to meet a ton of new people. Now, ten or twelve years into proper adulthood, I have a way smaller social circle than I want, I still have to push myself to speak up, I am still socially dependent on other people to make most of the plans, I am still envious when I walk by a house party strangers are having.

Abundant socialization is hugely important to me, I discovered years later, and my pessimism has put me into a position where I have to claw uphill in order to live the way that feels natural and right for me, now that I know what I want in that area.

Maybe I’m way off but I think most people veer on the side of avoiding pain as opposed to fulfilling desires. Among the people around me, I see a general conservatism about actually taking on big plans. Excuses get made, as a rule. Everyone experiences a different balance of motivations, but I think the real go-getters and unshakeables we hear about so often in inspirational stories are pretty rare. And not because of who they are, but because of how they go about things.

The Excitement Ritual

The difference is that desire-driven people think about what they want more than what they don’t want. For people with a bent toward pessimism, turning an insight into a real change means that person has to learn to think about what they want as habitually as they now think about what they don’t want.

About the much-gushed about (and much-criticized) “Law of attraction” — many people believe thoughts themselves have transformative effects on the universe around you. Positive ones manifest beneficial events and negative ones manifest problems. I understand that this can be an empowering mindset, but I want to be clear it’s not what I’m talking about here. I am still running on the assumption that it is only behavior that can be counted on to change your life. Thoughts obviously can have a huge effect on behavior, but I’m not trying to transmute anything with my mind, only to change my motivations.

I used to think fear and desire were the same thing, but they’re really opposites. Desire has direction, fear is just an impulse to get away — to be anywhere but here. Fear is directionless by nature.

In the personal development world, Steve Pavlina is a controversial figure. He’s nerdy, flippant, successful enough to make you sick, unshakeably happy, and really wordy. I don’t always agree with him but I know he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to thinking about what you want.

He’s written several huge articles on the topic, and they reach well beyond the standard self-help doctrine of “fill yourself with happy thoughts.” He explains thinking about what you want as a method of self-arousal that creates perceptible changes in your physical inclination to take risks and take action.

I’m guilty of rolling my eyes at the idea of visualization, but I’ve been experimenting with it and, wow, I can’t believe how different it makes the world look. I sit for twenty minutes and dive into some aspect of an ideal vision of my life — abundant relationships, abundant income, a lifestyle that leaves more time for creative work.

“Self-arousal” is really the crucial concept here. When you think about an experience of sex, particularly if you envision its details, it actually creates physical changes in the body. Blood will move, you will feel physically different. Sex isn’t the only experience that makes us feel aroused. Concerts can do it, getting a raise can do it, having a great coffee chat with a friend can do it, making a new friend can do it, wearing a sharp suit can do it.

This arousal is real and can be triggered by focused visualization about the details of those experiences. If you keep from letting it get abstract, and just dive into the details, you will be physically and emotionally moved by this exercise. That’s the point, to be moved by where your life is heading if you are taking action to bring it there.

You can make yourself feel really, really good this way, and you’re left with what is for a pessimist a rare and powerful commodity: desire that is much stronger than fear. Imagine what a change it would make in your moment-to-moment disposition if you made sure to do this every day.

So I am. This is Experiment #13. The terms will be a twenty-minute visualization session every day, for 30 days. I’ll report on my findings every few days. It begins tomorrow, May 28, 2012.

Note: If you’ve been following the previous experiment, you’ll notice it never really ended. The goal of writing 1000 words a day was really pretty insane for me at the time, I lost momentum quickly and ended up avoiding writing even more than before. Once #13 is underway, I will proceed again with #12, but instead of using a word count quota, I will commit to simply sitting down and writing for at least 30 minutes. That was the point all along. Experiment #13 will remain the priority throughout.

If you want to it too, I’ll have you read this article of Steve’s, rather than rehash exactly how to do this daily “excitement ritual.” I’d love to hear about your experiences with it in the comment section of the experiment log page.

I’m curious, what do you think you think about more — what you want or what you don’t want?

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Photo by Stetted

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{ 52 Comments }

Glori | Crazy Introvert May 28, 2012 at 2:18 am

The title really got me! LOL! Maybe I’ll figure out what you mean by this someday…

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Gary May 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

Few things spring to mind. This is probably what the “visualization” method from the father of self-help books Psycho Cybernetics was based upon. Except, I still have one doubt. Some call this sort of activity “mental masturbation”, and the downfall is that by imagining yourself accomplishing something or living successfully, you are giving your brain the rewards that would normally come from actualizing these desires in reality instead. Is there a fundamental difference in the prescribed method and “mental masturbation”?

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David May 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

The whole point is to actualize the desires. It is a method of cultivating desire, because there is no action without desire. When fear grows greater than desire (as it does for many pessimistic-leaning people, action is avoided.

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Michele May 28, 2012 at 5:23 am

hello David,
The link to Steve’s article is not working..could you re-link it?
I am inspired by this experiment and instead of meditating every day, I will do this.
Thank you!
Michele

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David May 28, 2012 at 6:53 am

Sorry about that, fixed now.

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Karen May 28, 2012 at 5:54 am

“I’m curious, what do you think you think about more — what you want or what you don’t want?”, this has been floating in my mind for the last couple of hours. I do think a lot about what I want, the thing is I know the what but I don’t know the how. So I am practicing being at ease with not knowing how to get what I want and trusting that I will chose the right path to get me there.
I have started meditating in the last few months and I get great comfort from the Loving kindness (Mettā) meditation. The eleven benefits of this mediation are said to be:
You will sleep easily
You will wake easily
You will have pleasant dreams
People will love you
Devas (gods or angels) and animals will love you
Devas will protect you
External dangers, such as poisons, weapons, and fire, will not harm you
Your face will be radiant
Your mind will be serene
You will die unconfused
You will be re-born in happy realms

So I visualize loving kindness to myself and others. This is my visualization and if I can get anywhere near the eleven benefits from this I will be happy in myself.
I want to send this to you too David. May you be safe from danger, may you be happy, may you be healthy and may you live with ease.

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David May 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Aw, so sweet of you Karen

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SusieR May 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

I love this goal. I want to hear all about it in 30 days. And I’m trying it out as well. xos

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nrhatch May 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

When I was younger, I was “braver” . . . I didn’t envision potential pitfalls as easily . . . I saw sunny skies waiting for me wherever I chose to roam.

Now, there is a weighing of risk vs. reward with even simple actions. I talk myself out of doing things I want to do because “it probably won’t be that great anyway.”

So, to answer your question, I believe that I am far too focused on what I don’t want . . . with only cursory consideration given to what I do want.

Here’s to changing that habitual pattern! Thanks, David.

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David May 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I guess fears accumulate as we run into life’s pains, and if we think we can get away from pain best by heeding fear instead of chasing desire, then we end up thinking a lot about what we don’t want. Snap!

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RJ Hill May 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

What a great idea! Taking desire from a mental and emotional place to a physical one seems like the most effective way to get the rest of the universe on-board. It’s far easier to dwell on all the things we fear happening, and it’s incredibly difficult at times to even pin down a specific desire, but this seems like a great next step once desire is defined.

I did something similar when I felt truly ready for a romantic commitment, but I carefully crafted a written description of my perfect mate. Magically, a mere 7 months later, circumstance thrust us together! I look forward to following this experiment; cheers!

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Ulkem Yilmaz May 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

I was reading this beautiful article with full interest and then i thought “it’s true that i have aversions and i tend to focus on them but it’s because i don’t have a choice, i don’t desire anything to direct my focus on” You can choose to be an optimistic only if you have positive thoughts or desires to replace with your aversions. I have no idea what i want, so anything seems ok or doable. And i tend to slide back to the negative thought pattern easily because i don’t have anything to replace them with. Then i said, “ok then, my desire is to desire something, anything so that i can motivate myself to do it.” How can i visualize this? Or where does this situation fit?

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David May 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Is there really nothing you want? Nothing that would feel good?

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Alwin the seeker June 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I am like that too. Some people have little worldly desire, its both a curse and a blessing. It is a curse if it puts you in a rut, fettered to your own mental inclinations. You can turn it into a blessing by activating the desire to love people in every way – to make them feel good (101 ways) in a world that is easily magnetized by pain. The people you touch will surely reward you in whatever way they can – every interaction (perceived even in animals?) will change for the positive. The most lovely of beings are able to do so with their very presence – it can be your look, your smell, your countenance, your speak, everything. Do all these to deliver people from pain, then into love and wisdom if you are able to. Your entire life will change.

This is a gift that works well, esp. for self absorbed introverts truth seekers who have little desire. I received it and so I give it back to all of you.

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Leigh Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

I’m in! I’ve been feeling like I’m teetering on the brink of a great moving forward in my life, but fear and apathy are still holding me back. I realized several years ago that I actively prevent myself from feeling excitement, and that I’d convinced myself that wanting things was bad. I’ve made some progress with the wanting things, but still tell myself that I won’t get it, can’t have it. And I’m still suppressing the excitement that would move me toward accomplishing the things I want. So here’s to changing my behavior, to change my perspective, to create the dazzling life I want!

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Leigh Ann May 28, 2012 at 10:59 am

or rather, Here’s to changing my perspective, to change my behavior . . .

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Ulkem Yilmaz May 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

Well, i’ve been so afraid to admit this to myself because i don’t understand why, why on earth would someone do this to herself/hisself? But i guess that’s it. It’s the same thing for me and this is an extremely unnecessarily complicated behaviour! Isn’t it? Very sad to see how people put themselves into situations like this.

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Roxanne May 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

I used to think mostly of what I feared. I am committed to changing that and focusing on what I want.

Ultimately, whether my outward circumstances change or not, I am happier while thinking of my desires instead of my fears.

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David May 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm

>Ultimately, whether my outward circumstances change or not, I am happier while thinking of my desires instead of my fears.

I’m convinced of this too. Quality of life is only the quality of your moments, and a worried moment isn’t a good one. Even if nothing else changes, and that’s unlikely, it’s a pretty good bet if you think of it like this.

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Bob Bramwell May 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

I’m sort of in the same boat as Ulkem Yilmaz (see his earlier comment). Aversion is definitely what drives me. Part of the problem is that I have cancer and although it is not progressing much at present there are no good treatments. If it ever gets going, which is quite likely, there will be little I can do to stop it. Let’s say I visualize myself as being a happy, healthy octogenerian. What can I do to change my life in such a way as to improve my chances of getting there? How do I motivate myself?
Your experiment sounds like a good one to try, especially for yourself! I’ll have to think about how I can make it work for me.
Cheers.

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Karen J May 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hugs: {{{Bob}}}

Consider scaling that goal back to be more Definitely Achievable (the A in SMART Goals theory*) for you, in your current situation –
Change “I visualize myself as being a happy, healthy octogenarian” to something like “…still happy and healthy a year from now” or “5 years from now” — pick a date that stretches your prognosis — and then do whatever you can with diet, exercise and attitude(!) to make it be true.

~ “Visualizing world peace” is just too large a goal for one person to affect more than minutely. “Visualizing my sister and I ‘talking’ instead of ‘arguing’ all the time” is much more likely to be do-able. :)

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria#Developing_SMART_goals

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David May 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm

One thing I clarified in today’s update (on the experiment log page) is the visualization is only beneficial if it is changes you do intend to cultivate and that do make sense in the context of your life as you know it now. That doesn’t mean to back off of ambitious visions, but to choose ones for which success is more a matter of motivation.

I don’t know what your prognosis is, but I whenever I want to do something, the first thing I think of is “find people who have done that and do what they did.” There are people whose cancer diagnoses spurred them to become marathoners or world travelers, and who experienced extraordinary benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. If you find accounts of people in similar health situations who took actions that made drastic improvements, their stories might help to clarify a vision for your journey to healthy octogenarianhood.

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Jeremy Ramsay May 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Hi David, heart-felt thanks for this article: exactly what I need at this precise moment in my life. I will do the 30-day experiment too, starting tonight (28 May). Doing the 20 minutes before sleep is a great idea as well. No doubt this will also colour ones dreams and hopefully result in waking up feeling good about the coming day. We’ll see. One of the curses if intelligence is being able to see flaws and problems with everything. This can easily dampen enthusiasm and this method would seem to be a good corrective to the tendency to over-analyze things.

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David May 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm

>One of the curses if intelligence is being able to see flaws and problems with everything.

This is a real phenomenon, I’ve read about it. People who know they are exceptionally intelligent get used to the idea that they can lean on their strengths (thinking, out-smarting) when they get afraid. But the problem is more thinking is not what a fearful person needs in order to alleviate the fear. It usually makes it worse. So they don’t act, until they can “think” some certainty into the situation, when action is the only thing that will move the situation along.

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Terri Lynn May 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I’m with ya on this. I too have noticed a similar pattern of pessimism in me. When people would say that I should enjoy life more, I would get irritated and start ranting about how it is not possible to do that when I am a single parent, running a business, with aging parents, etc. The last time it came out of my mouth, I realized that those are three things that could be very enjoyable, i just wasn’t perceiving them that way. All i saw and therefore experienced, was the responsibility and obligation.

So I am making a conscious effort to notice something different than just responsibility. When I notice the laughter, the kindness, the beauty, whatever shows up, I sit with it and really take it in. I haven’t had a hard time seeing these things before, just not in the context of those ‘big 3′, which consume about 95 percent of my life.

I will take the time to sit in a peaceful space daily and imagine those big 3 in that space and see how that affects how I show up in their presence.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Terri Lynn

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Tony Draxler May 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Spot on David! Personally, getting into shape has been a huge issue for me. I was bred into an environment of laziness and I’ve kept those habits for far too long. I realized a long time ago that to be happier in life I need to be healthy and in shape. I had the “mental shift” where I realized it’s importance, but it never translated into a change in behavior. Everytime I would think about working out, I would just imagine how out of breath I would be, how painful and hard it would be, how sore I would be the next day… those were the things I visualized and feared, instead of picturing myself being able to play a game of pickup basketball with friends, or to be at the pool and not be embarrassed to take off my shirt. I was visualizing all the wrong things instead of motivating myself. I’m going to try the experiment as well, hopefully visualizing my life the way I want it to be will be the motivation I need to actually make it happen finally!

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David May 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Exactly the same for me with working out, even with my short workouts. I would very quickly become preoccupied with the 20-30 daily minutes I didn’t find all that pleasant, and lose sight of the lifetime of being fit and feeling good — the reason I decided to do it in the first place. I’m now on the best roll I’ve been on in a long time in that area.

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Steph in Berkeley May 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

i love this post, david. but then, i love most of your posts. i’m struck nearly every time i read one about how talented you are. now, to put this in perspective, i like to read. a lot. at any given time, i’ve got five books and a half-dozen blogs on my daily, or at least weekly, reading list.

your blog has stuck with me for a year now, and i read it faithfully. unlike leo babauta (who i like), steve pavlina, and even the zerowastehome, which i was fanatic about for a while.

you have such a talent, and i can’t imagine why you aren’t writing for popular and/or renound publications by now. but you could certainly be, if you wanted. i know you wrote about why you didn’t go for a book deal, but i wonder how these thoughts are coming along for you…writing professionally, that is.

and on a related note, as sure as i am that you can be wildly successful, a part of me is still glad that you are simply the dude of raptitude. i like being a part of a homegrown publication/blog, like the smallness, like that you can interact with your readers to the extent that you do. but it’s selfish. you can have more readers than you know what to do with, when you’re ready…if you want it. …so, do ya? or is there something else you wnat to do with your life…professionally? –have you talked to a career coach, per chance?

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David May 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Aw shucks steph… To be candid, I have always known I had talent in a lot of areas, and it was frustrating to me because it never seemed to get me anywhere. There always seemed to be something in the way, and now I know what it is, and it’s my preoccupation with pain and downsides. Which is good news, because it’s not a character flaw, just a bad habit.

I am at the point now where there is no longer any doubt my career will be in writing. I am finally actually building a business behind the scenes, I finally have a clear vision and a doable plan. As I mentioned in that post, a print book is not the right thing for me this year, but it won’t be a problem when I am ready to do it. I’ve got interested publishers and agents. Opportunities are everywhere, and frankly they always have been for me, it’s really only a matter of cultivating desire and letting go of fear. I have everything else.

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Steph in Berkeley June 12, 2012 at 1:37 am

you know, with the preoccupation you often mention–of downsides, anxiety, fear of success as well as failure and with self-improvement itself—I think you’re probably a 4 (The Individualist or Artist) on the Enneagram…have you heard of or taken it, hold any stock in such personality typing? (this one is related to Sufism.) personally i love the damn things. Meyer’s Briggs, True Colors, Enneagram, and even Strengthsfinders are all right up my alley. So be gentle if you think they’re bunk and stereotyping ;-) –here you can take a free test if you haven’t already and are so prone… http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

cheers,
steph

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Anjali May 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm
Liz May 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Love your blog. Read it regularly.

This is me in a nutshell…my whole life has been driven by pain avoidance…and in the long run this motivating undercurrent has only resulted in a ruinous amount of wasted time and far more pain than I’ve ever eluded. Dorothea Brande has a lovely quote in her book “Wake Up and Live” that summarizes this sort of behavior perfectly:

“The Unconscious dreads pain, humiliation, fatigue; it bends its efforts even more ceaselessly to the end of avoiding pain than it does to the procuring of positive pleasures. So we are faced with a fact which at once accounts for much of the inactivity, the inertia, to which we succumb at moments when positive action would be to our advantage: that rather than face the mere possibility of pain we will not act at all.”

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David May 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Story of my life! Not acting.

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Luey May 29, 2012 at 12:40 am

I’ll be following up on you with this experiment David…whatever anyone calls it… as in LOA, thinking positive thoughts, etcetera…I know from personal experience it is truly a powerful way of creating, so why not turn that power toward what we DO want! :-)

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Juanita A. Leech May 29, 2012 at 1:15 am

I like the way you describe the difference between desire and fear. I know how it does to have fear as if there is no end.

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Joel May 29, 2012 at 6:13 am

“think about what you want rather than what you’d rather not have”. Funnily enough I also came upon this idea in a basketball article about how to shoot better.

Basically when you’re going up for a shot, think ‘good shot’ rather than something like ‘don’t miss’. The logic being that your body can’t really visualize a negative qualifier like ‘not’ or ‘don’t’ so it’s left with only the ‘miss’ instruction which your body faithfully carries out… :)

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Maia May 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Interesting question David, I’m not really sure if I think about the things I don’t want more or the things that I do want. I’d like to say it was about the things that I do want, but if I’m honest I think it’s the former, which is sad!
I am also actively trying not to think too much generally and practicing the idea of being in the now, focusing on just the present moment and switching my mind of completely rather than keep thinking constantly about anything. This really relaxes me and gives a much needed break from my over-active mind. I’m interested with what your experiment yields. I would think that by visualising what you do want you would actually just think realise what you do actually want and focus on these things as goals. Because I don’t think most people even think about what they want at all, or at least not actively, specifically and everyday. I look forward to reading about the results.

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David May 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Me too. Most thoughts are pretty circular and useless, and a mindful state is usually best, but when they do happen I want them not to be fearful ones.

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Cara May 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

Thought-provoking. Sobering.

Sums up why, in 3 years as a writer, I have not submitted a single article for publication. “Why bother, since nobody is going to want to publish anything I write?” And perhaps also why, at the age of 43, my social circle is nowhere near where I’d like it to be (all the same excuses for not attending gatherings as you listed in your post).

I need to re-read this post a few times. Thanks as always!

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Jared May 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

It’s funny, I’ve also Canadian but currently living in Auckland (working on K-Rd in fact) and I’m often met with the same bewilderment when I choose to eat a meal at five o’clock.

But that’s not the point, is it? Your entry resonated with me on a whole as I fight to choose optimism as well. I anxiously await your experiment log on visualization as it’s something I’ve also been known to roll my eyes at but am curious about at the same time. Inspiring stuff, David. :)

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David June 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I miss K Road!

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Shane May 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Experiment #13 is pretty interesting. I’ll surely check this blog everyday to read your updates about the experiment? So how was the first day of the experiment? Thanks for sharing.

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Cara May 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Can it be a coincidence that I read your blog post and stumbled upon this video in the same day?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N2QZM7azGoA

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shanimarissa May 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Hey David … I can certainly empathize with your awkward feelings around social situations – I was years into adulthood before I realized that throughout my youth (when I thought I was a social-god) I was really just relying solely on the social skills of my friends.

As an adult – I can barely function socially. Sure I can do it … but it’s not easy or comfortable (or fun).

Recently though I have made some real improvements in this area and it came from a source that most people have access to: Dale Carnagie classes.

I originally signed up for the class to enhance my public speaking (which is what I assumed the course was primarily about) but it turns out that it is really about learning and *practicing* the principles in the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book. In 12 weeks of 4hr night classes I am blown away at the progress I have made towards being more social, more likeable and most importantly more confident that I bring *interesting* things to the table and am worth talking to. I feel like this class has restored my faith in not only myself but also in humanity (cheese-balls, I know, but true none-the-less).

I highly recommend it – I think you would love it.

I also want to let you know how much I admire your drive towards self-improvement. Your self-awareness is astonishing and you do such a wonderful job of summing it all up in your posts so eloquently. I look forward to hearing about your progress in this new challenge.

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David June 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm

That sounds great. I read How to Win Friends years ago but I didn’t follow his explicit directions of reading each chapter twice, and I didn’t make a point of putting it to use. Learned a few things that never left me though, like “The sweetest sounds to anyone is his or her own name.” I’ll look for something locally, thanks.

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Bonnie June 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I remember being in Europe and getting hungry around 5 but being looked at like we were crazy by the restaurant staff! Different culture. (btw, when I first read that sentence I thought you meant you learned to cook at the age of 5.)

Your blog is so wonderful. (I highlighted it in a “top ten” post on my blog recently.) Admittedly, I don’t alway agree completely with everything you say, but even so, I find your writing to be inspirational and thought-provoking. It is my opinion that discussion is more interesting than blind agreement, anyway.

My husband had a life-altering epihpany while living in NZ, too! (Nelson, not Aukland, though.) Must be a very special place. I’ve never been there but we plan to visit there from The Philippines once we’re living out there. We are planning to move in September. We are focusing on that positive plan right now. There is a lot of work to make it happen, but it’s worth the outcome. :) We are excited!

Regarding your desire to be more social… maybe this is totally weird… but from what I “know” of you from your blog I think you’d get along well with a group of people I know… I have a close friend in the Wolseley area who frequently hosts awesome house parties. Not get-drunk-and-hook-up-with-strangers parties, but themed parties with fantastic food, wine and great conversation. Most people that show up are very intelligent, warm and love travel. We almost always end talking about the places we’ve been to or want to go! It is a very relaxed and positive environment. Again, this might be totally inappropriate, but if you are interested, I could give you the details to the next event if you’d like to come.

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David June 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Heh, even I don’t agree with everything I say. Glad you’re into the blog.

I just ate at 7 and it felt super late

Anyway, check your email :)

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CB June 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm

David,
I have to say I’ve been following your blog for awhile now. I don’t always agree with you, but lately your posts have really spoken to things that are going on in my life. You hit the nail on the head and I thank you. I’ve been doing my best to take your insights to heart and implement them where I can. I will definitely try the 20 minute excitement experiment and see where it leads me.
Thank you and please continue writing such a wonderful blog!

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Mary Rose June 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I never actually thought of this before. It looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing this information. I’ve learned a lot from you. How will this affect the person?

-Mary Rose

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Katherine June 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I would definitely suggest going to a doctor. You may want children sometime in your life, and to ensure that privilege, keep yourself healthy.

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Benjamin June 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Hello David,

I have read your blog for quite some time now and have never commented on any of your post. I do love this blog and read almost every single post. The reason why I comment is because this post reminds me of a youtube video I just watched….well listened to the other day of a recording of Earl Nightingale ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62DqsD2s5V8 ). It is about 30 mins long. Feel free to listen if you so desire.

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Tobi July 6, 2012 at 5:43 am

Steve Pavlina might not be so controversial if he wasn’t so RUDE. I came across his website once years ago and I was confused about what it was, so I went to the forum section to ask and he was very sarcastic. I tried to say I was just asking and he kept being rude. I don’t know what his problem is, it’s hard to believe he’s so happy with all the guilt me must have being rude to people like that.

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