How I Stopped Gaming With One Simple Habit
Back when I was a teenager, I used to play video games for hours on end. I couldn’t wait for school to end just to get back home and escape to my perfect virtual world.
My “addiction” started with Runescape. And then evolved to many others games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, etc. Hours and hours of just repeating the same thing over again, just to gain more fictional points and prove that I was better than my fellow mates.
That was what kept me going: The competitiveness of video-games, and that feeling of achievement that I wasn’t getting anywhere else. And also the easy dopamine boost that was the leveling up experience. The grinding just felt so right:
I knew what to do and exactly how to do it. Just keep killing x monsters and you’ll get your reward. Easy as that.
If we could have this mentality and sense of purpose in real life, everything would be a lot easier.
But how did I turn my life around and stopped this habit that was killing my social life and turning me into the nerd I never wanted to be?
For me, the only way to stop an addiction was to replace it with another.
I found my replacement by accident. I remember buying this 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the Roman Forum and someone said to me:
“Why waste money on something that you know that you’ll never finish”.
That got me so pissed that I worked on that puzzle every day for more than 2 hours.
On the beginning, I can say that the will to prove that person wrong was one of my main motivations but with time I just became obsessed with finishing the puzzle like I did with finishing a quest or leveling up on World of Warcraft.
Every day I would come home in the afternoon and instead of going straight to my computer I would go to the attic where there was space to fit the puzzle and work there for about 2-3 hours. This kept me distracted and before I knew it I hadn’t touched my computer in over a week.
The grinding feeling was the same for me. The quests were clear: Finish this pillar today, finish the grass area, etc. And the reward was there too: Seeing that area concluded and showing it off my family members and friends.
Give yourself purpose and a clear goal.
Try to imagine your daily tasks as quests.
Give yourself a very specific task. If your daily activity is too big, break it down into small chunks.
What may sound weird but actually worked, was to listen to video game soundtracks to keep me focused and distracted.
To this day, I still listen to world of warcraft music while I work.
Find New Hobbies
You need to replace your current addiction!
Once I was done with the puzzle I needed to fill my time with something else.
So I started working out from home and got into the awesome world of calisthenics by learning how to handstand just for fun!
I also bought a Home Pull Up Bar for my room which I turned into a “Daily Quest”.
Every day after waking up I would do as many pull-ups as I could followed by a refreshing Cold Shower.
I had a routine, just as I did back in World of Warcraft.
Only this time, the rewards weren’t so immediate but they were a lot better.
Show off your results to someone so that you stay motivated
I know that this may not seem like the most ethical advise but it actually helped me a lot.
I found out that recognition of my work was extremely important to me and it kept me motivated. Back in video-games, it wasn’t the leveling up experience that truly motivated me, it was the social aspect of MMO’s.
You should always try to be humble but there is nothing wrong in showing your work to others and maybe try to do something even better: Try to motivate them too.
Video Games can be life destroying but only if you let them. If you think you wasted all those hours when you were a kid, think again: They might have given you a strong hidden mentality that allows you to push through demanding and repetitive tasks that are essential for a successful life. You just have to learn how to unlock it.
I’ll be talking a lot more in detail in the coming weeks of how useful it can be to port your video-game mentality into real life. And other habits that you can have that will help you lead a better life, like taking cold showers and improving your focus.