So the thing I have observed was that with fun, at least the type you consume like movies, video games, and TV, it’s more about the novelty of experience than being desensitized to it. The thing is in most of these cases novelty and sensitivity are synonymous. You are desensitized when the experience is no longer novel and it is no longer novel when you’ve done it already and to the degree to which you’ve done it. Of course this is sensitivity to novelty which is a form of stimulation being intensified or lessened depending on how novel the experience.
So the thing is that you can easily alter the level of novel by simply not being aware of the past experience and you can do this in a few ways, looking at things from new perspectives is one, and simply being present which would mean not being aware of the past experiences and being an unbiased observer, is another.
So in my quest to develop this ability in myself to apply to many areas in my life, one being learning the 3000 Hanzi, I am working out how to condition my mind to easily focus on the present. I feel that to streamline the process would allow it to be more fun and less a monk’s disciplinary quest.
So to do this I would need to create a lifestyle that makes it easy so I would have to remove elements that draw me compulsively to thinking of the future. So what are those elements? I need to make a list. Besides the regular daily worries, and hunger, thirst, I will put out two that I think people don’t commonly associate with compulsion and stress.
I observe that stories, TV, video games, anything with a long story and cliff hangers gives me an urge to know what happens next. This urge is a pull towards the future, its enjoyable when you can find out quickly but it’s also an urge, an anxious feeling, a form of stress. This feeling is not conducive to a present moment focused mind.
I think goals invite thoughts of the future. A goal is something you don’t have presently but want to get in the future. Even surfing the internet, even learning mindfulness, these are all goals and thoughts of them take us out of the present moment. Goals are a form of psychological stress because your mind sees them as an extension of you that you don’t have yet which means it is a detached part of you. this is stressful like losing a hand is stressful, depending on how important the goal is and how long it will take to get it. I would say the further into the future the goal is the less you should think about it. Also the more important it is the less you should think about it. Also the harder it is to achieve the less you should think about it. Ofcourse there are times when it is efficient to think about it but otherwise people just think about it out of compulsion.
Being present isn’t as much about a goal of being present. How could it be when those are two conflicting things. Being present is about letting go of the future and the past. It isn’t a goal, it’s closer to a forfeit.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but thinking about them more than you need to is stressful. I think a better way is to choose a goal and then work towards it while being present. Yes this is possible. Just because your in the present doesn’t mean you forget what you wanted to do there. Well maybe in extreme cases it might but not the way I’m suggesting. You choose a goal for the future, then come back to the present with the intention to work on it. In the present you work on it, forgetting the bigger picture and working moment by moment simply focusing on the present. Not about how much you’ve done, just focused on experiencing each moment of your life while your working.
You aren’t supposed to try to focus on the present, that is a paradoxical goal. You should simply let go of anything that is not the present. Letting go is not a goal, it might seem like one but it is not a form of stress, it’s a form of release and so I stand by my idea that it is not a goal.
Then if you are working on something, instead of seeing it as a goal, just do it, while not having the past of future in mind as much as possible.
I feel this is the least stressful way to go about working on tasks especially larger tasks. Not only is it not stressful, it would be enjoyable as you would be able to experience novelty. Its about actively enjoying the journey towards a worthy destination.