Difficult Gratitude Problems

James Altucher likes to practice solving what he calls “Difficult Gratitude Problems“.

For example, being stuck in traffic. He could worry about being late. Instead he tells himself how wonderful it is to live in New York. A city where everyone wants to be.

Life is full of difficult gratitude problems.

Now more than ever.

I’ve only recently tried to solve any.

Maybe not all of them are solvable.

I’ve solved a few, though.

I’m getting better at it.

“Only Say Positive Things”?

I knew it was extreme. I set an extreme goal on purpose.

I’m not trying to set a realistic goal. I’m trying to stretch myself.

Explaining my present situation may help.

I’m usually alone in the mornings. I write, do my mirror work, listen to uplifting music, read uplifting books, list things I’m happy about/grateful for, etc.

It’s easy to be positive during those times.

Most days I see my boys. This is one of the things I’m most grateful for.

They and their mother live with their grandparents.

These are not positive people. Not by a long shot. These are angry, bitter people, who have no interest in improving themselves.

By the time I leave I’ve been taken down a few notches. It’s worth it to spend time with my boys. I love seeing them, and they love seeing me. I hope my efforts are helping them.

I’m looking forward to meeting super positive people. People who will be a bigger influence on me than the negative people in my life.

Until then, I do what I can.

Toxic Positivity?

Believe it or not, positivity can have a dark side.

There are people who refuse to acknowledge anything as negative. Some even say everything is perfect as it is. That it can’t be any other way.

I think for the most part people should be positive.

Focus on the good.

Be optimistic about the future.

Not everything in life is positive, though. Maybe you’ve noticed that. 😉

Problems still exist, whether you are willing to acknowledge them or not.

But it’s better to approach problems with a solution-oriented mindset.

Some people experience setbacks in life and throw up their hands. “Nothing ever works out for me!”

Setbacks are lessons. You have to be willing to learn from them. To use them for your growth.

If you start a business and it fails, don’t give up. Figure out why it failed. Then try again. Learn and start again. Repeat until you succeed.

Don’t ignore the problems in your life. They rarely go away on their own. They usually just get worse.

So yes, be positive. But be wise in your positivity.

“Only Say Positive Things”

In his speech, “The Strangest Secret”, Earl Nightingale issues a challenge. He says to keep a card in your pocket for a month. On one side should be your goal for that month, and on the other side should be Matthew 7:7-8:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Look at the card several times a day, to remind yourself of your goal.

My goal this month is, “Only Say Positive Things.”

I underestimated how difficult this would be.

I have a tendency to complain. Quite a bit.

It’s hard to feel good about life when you complain so much.

It’s also hard to believe it will get better.

The month is still young, though.

I intend to achieve my goal, even if it takes several months.

It will be easier to achieve my other goals once I do.

Symptom of a Larger Problem?

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that I’m not tempted to watch porn when I’m feeling good. When I’m feeling down, angry, sad, lonely, etc, that’s when I feel the urge.

I didn’t become an addict because I was a bad person. Something was wrong. I felt bad. I wanted to feel better. I found something to relieves the pain, if only temporarily. In the long run it made things worse.

Maybe this sounds familiar. If so, find another way to feel better.

Show yourself some love. Real love. Be compassionate to yourself.

Think about all the good things in your life. Make an effort to feel grateful. Really feel it.

Make a goal. Start working toward it. Get help from someone else who’s done it before.

Spend time around good people. Get away from people who drag you down, or at least spend less time with them.

And obviously, pray for help to improve your life. Your Heavenly Father wants you to succeed.

You should, too.

Urges are just thoughts

That’s the theory, anyway.

You think about watching porn. You to entertain the idea. The feelings follow.

What if you short-circuit the process?

Derail that train?

What if you dismiss the thought?

Move on before the feelings come?

That’s what Amy Johnson, PhD suggests in The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit.

The book is not specifically about porn or masturbation. Amy Johnson used this technique to overcome Binge-eating Disorder.

The neurons that fire together, wire together.

If you watch porn and masturbate every time you feel the urge, you strengthen the connection between the urges and the behavior.

Dismissing the urge, even once, weakens that connection. The more urges you dismiss, the weaker the connection.

I haven’t overcome my addiction yet.

I admit I haven’t tried very hard.

But I have been able to dismiss urges successfully.

I know I can beat this thing, it’s just a matter of making the effort.

It’s holding me back

My porn addiction.

Yup, it’s still there.

I don’t talk about it much.

I’m sure it’s part of the reason I feel like I don’t deserve a better life.

I relapse.

I feel bad about myself.

I relapse again to try to feel better.

That’s the thing. In the moment it feels good.

After a few relapses I start becoming numb to the shame. Like wading out into cold water. At first it’s shocking. Painful. Until you get used to it.

Then I get lazy for a while.

And there’s the part that doesn’t even want to quit. The part that enjoys it. It’s like eating an all-candy diet. It’s terrible for you, but it tastes good in the moment.

Quarantine Blues

This whole quarantine thing is really getting to me. I’ve had so many ideas for things I could do to improve. But those ideas are thwarted by the current situation.

I want to join some organizations I think will help me. Specifically, I want to join Toastmasters and a Cash Flow Club. I might do more than that, but I think those will be a good start.

I seriously need to improve the influences in my life. Reading good books helps, but it isn’t enough. Right now I’m spending way to much time around angry people who have no interest in improving themselves, and not enough time around happy people who want to be better.

Send Yourself Some Love

When I do my mirror work, I give myself a pep talk.

I call myself by name. Send myself some love.

“Phil, I love you.”

Feels a little weird. So what?

I build myself up. Like I’m talking to one of my boys. What would I want to hear from my dad?

It doesn’t take long, usually just a minute or two.

At first I wrote down affirmations and read those to myself. Now I keep it more informal.

I’ve thought of more ways to improve.

Maybe that means it’s working.

We’ll see.

More About Mirror Work

So, let’s start with a video:

Last week I realized I didn’t believe I deserved a better life. I thought I believed it. Obviously I didn’t believe it on a subconscious level, or I would have been trying harder to change my life.

I did some mirror work after a bad breakup, and it helped. So I’m trying it again.

Is it working?

I haven’t noticed much of a difference yet. I haven’t been doing it long, and I’ve been doing it sporadically. I feel self-conscious even when I’m home alone. I don’t do it if anyone else is around.

I feel less self-conscious than when I started. The first time it was hard to even look myself in the eyes.

I feel confident that this will help me. It worked before, so I’m going to keep doing it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.