How well you play the game of life comes down to the sum of your choices. Whatever you decide, don’t be the chess piece, be the chess player. - Unknown
When was the last time you played a game?
And by game
I mean the fun kind, where it brings out the child inside of you to come out and play as you engage in some friendly competition, bonding with those involved.
As a kid, my friends and I would often play make believe or make up random games before video games were introduced in the 80s.
When my sister and I got the first ever Nintendo, it became the staple entertainment in the house where we’d bond over it with our parents. Friends would come over to play it and I'd always be the person who everyone would try and beat.
Since I often played it, I became really good at it. Naturally, I became very confident at gaming. I used it to flaunt my talents and bond with the guys I liked back in the days to negate the social awkwardness I often found myself in.
As I got older though, I was told to grow up. To focus less on play and more on my studies, work, becoming an adult. Perhaps you can relate?
We become more serious and engage in strategic mind games at work, in dating and relationships, fighting for our causes, in pursuit of gaining the ‘happiness’ ending we seek. 'Fun and games' can start to take on a different meaning. We become exhausted and forget the fun and joy games bring to us when we
- take it way to seriously
- confine ourselves to a set of rules (be it ours or outsiders) we can't win and
- fail to succeed to attain the outcomes we want.
We forget life is like a huge game.
Let me explain.
Merriam-Webster defines game
- a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure
- a procedure or strategy for gaining an end
In our lifetime, from the moment we are born, we emerge with a basic personality and a set of inherited traits. The conditions of these traits, be it positive or negative are determined and modified by the conditioning of our social, familial, and cultural environment.
From the get-go, we crave for pleasure and things that make us feel good. We soon learn in order for us to get the attention, love and things that give us pleasure, we need to behave a certain way. And since change is constant throughout life, this becomes a game. Challenges and new obstacles present itself to help us learn and grow to be in charge of our happiness and to live in possibilities until we leave this physical plane.
As Oliver Emberton explains on his blog
, real life is a game of strategy
To thrive and survive making the most of life, we have to learn how to adapt to the changes and face the challenges that we encounter at different stages and areas of our life.
famously said, ‘ Don’t get set into one form. Adapt it and build your own, and let it grow. Be like water.”
And I couldn't agree more.
The reality is we can’t escape the game of life. We need to play it.
So when you come across obstacles, when you fail, start to learn the rules of whatever game you are playing in life.
Find ways to work around the parameters. Explore possibilities.
You may find yourself breaking your rules, tweaking your stories and building new rules around your life.
Make up a new game to help you win more easily so that you can overcome your fears, escape the darkness and bad feelings you get when you are losing. For example, I hate rejection so I started playing the Game of No
. The objective is to see how many No's I can collect. Eventually, you become numb when people say no to you. And you start to look at “no’s” as a win, because every no you get becomes a point and inches you closer to a yes.
The key to creating a game that you can win and help you succeed in life is to change the rules. Tweak it in your favour that enables you to not be dependent on others but rather for you to have control over what you do while practicing a skill.
For more great tips on mastering the game of life, check out an article James Altucher
Benefits of Gaming
In Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk - The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life
, she talked about how when we play a game ‘we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism and we’re more likely to reach out to others for help.’
And how these traits can be applied to real-life challenges and can ‘dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle any problem you’re facing.’
She shared how she developed a game to help save her life as she recovered from depression triggered by her traumatic brain injury. This led her to experience the benefits of post-traumatic growth. Living and doing things that allowed her to live life with fewer regrets.
Games help us relax in a good way. It gives us a mental break, a new point of focus, which can act as a pain reliever, reducing stress and raising our happiness level. It's good for our physical health, if it involves us to move our body like a game of sport. And video games surprisingly can also provide many physical, mental and social benefits as reported by Huffington Post
, Yahoo News
and summed up amazingly by Maternity Glow's infographic
Furthermore, games that involve mental agility and social interaction can offer valuable life skills as described on MakeUseOf
. As you exercise the muscles in your brain, it can enhance your creativity, decision making and forward thinking skills, positively helping you develop persistency and patience.
If a game requires you to interact with others or recruit allies, it can help you improve your social skills as you come together and take inspired action in strength to combat the forces.
When you add the aspect of fun and incorporate other emotional elements into it, like learning how to get your emotions to a positive or better feeling place, you can build your emotional resilience.
Next time when you are feeling blue, or you come across a challenge consider playing a game or inventing a game to play.
Identify your mission. Create your avatar, ask for help, recruit your allies. Make up rules that can be easily met and achieved by you and your team in accomplishing your mission. Collect your 1-ups and activate them as needed.
It’s your life.
Master the game. Play to Win.