What is your story of life? Do you believe it’s fun, challenging, difficult, exciting, boring, an adventure, a chore, or an uphill slog?
Whatever you’re telling yourself about life, will ultimately affect how you approach each task, how you handle people and situations, and how you feel on a day to day basis. For example, if you believe that life is difficult, then you’ll find yourself struggling to get out of bed each morning, you’ll approach your day with trepidation. And, you’ll probably experience high levels of anxiety and irritability. On the other hand, if you believe that life is an adventure, you’ll have no trouble jumping out of bed, heading into the office, and making the most of the people and experiences that fill your day.
But it’s not so easy to change your story, is it? After all, if you start telling yourself that life is wonderful, when actually you’re feeling pretty lousy about it, you could end up frustrated by the expectation gap of how you’d like it to be, compared to how it actually is.
So how can you turn a negative story into a positive one? Well, how about playing the Game of Life!
And no, I don’t mean the board game. I mean that, by seeing life as a game, it becomes easier to accept the fact that there will be wins and losses along the way. More importantly though, it enables you to enjoy the ride, stop taking everything so seriously, take a few risks, and actually enjoy even the most challenging of situations.
So, how do you get started? Well, first off…
1. Give up the Vanity
You wouldn’t refuse to try a new game just because you might not be very good at it, or might lose, so why shy away from life’s opportunities just because you might not be perfect from the get go? It doesn’t matter what other people think, as long as there’s a benefit to you. So, get stuck in, go to that networking event, ask someone on a date (I guarantee they are not out of your league), apply for that dream job, ask for advice from someone who’s made it, and grab every chance to try something different, irrespective of what people think, because what’s important here is that you are in the game. You can’t win, if you’re too scared to play…
2. Get Enthusiastic
The cool thing about a game is that the more experienced you get at it, the more effective you get. As you practice, you learn new tricks, new ways to turn the tables, and new ways to win. So, instead of seeing every task as a hardship to be endured, tell yourself that it’s an opportunity to hone your game-playing technique. Step into each challenge, each meeting, and each day, not worried that you’ll come off worse, but excited that you’ll be a step closer to winning. And, remind yourself, that it doesn’t matter if you lose. Because it’s just a game. But the more you play, the better you get!
3. Become a Sponge
Of course, play to win but, more importantly, play to learn! Challenge yourself to learn something new from everything you do. Whether it’s a phone call, a meeting, a project, or just a trip to the shops; what can you take away from each experience that will help you to improve your game-playing skills? There’ll always be an opportunity to learn something, provided you’re looking out for it, so consider whether you’re getting to know yourself better, improving your confidence, overcoming weaknesses, honing your strengths, learning more about others, or developing specific knowledge and/or skills?
4. Be a Good Loser
Smile when you lose. Because what else can you do? Wail and moan? Churn and worry? Complain and gripe? None of those things will get you anywhere but stuck in an ever-decreasing cycle of negativity. So, pick yourself up, brush yourself down, and figure out a way forward. Concentrate your efforts within your circle of influence. On the things you can actually effect. So, don’t waste time wondering how you can change other people, because you can’t. And don’t waste time wishing that things were different, because they aren’t. Focus on things you can actually do to help turn the odds back in your favour. Relish your position as the underdog, and play your way back to the top. Anyway you can.
5. Chill Out!
While I’m talking about getting stuck in and sucking up challenges and learnings, remember that games are played for fun. So, if your story is that life isn’t meant to be fun, then why bother? Why get up in the mornings? Why bring children into the world only to have them live a fun-free life? Why keep going at all? The fact is, life doesn’t have to be so serious. The stakes you think are incredibly high, often aren’t. The opportunities you think are high risk, probably aren’t as perilous as you believe and may well be outweighed by the rewards. And, the “right time” you’re waiting for, in order to be happy, might never arrive. So be happy now!
And it really is as easy as that. Isn’t it? Could you live your life as if it were a game? Could you give up on being so serious? Could you stop worrying what people think of you? And could you let your happiness flow, even when things don’t go your way?
Try it! You might even find that you like it :)