Life just isn’t a recreation

This is a visitor submit from Michael Laurence. Previously at Get Rich Slowly, Michael has shared his ideas on funding threat and what occurs when more cash makes you depressing.

You hear the phrase “the game of life” on a regular basis.

There are books on Amazon instructing us on the best way to win on the “game of life”. Hell, Milton Bradley’s “The Game of Life” from 1860 — nonetheless offered right this moment — was the primary well-liked board recreation within the United States.

In the Real World, the sport of life’s guidelines and standards for achievement are imprecise and by no means explicitly acknowledged. But everyone knows what they’re. To win, you want:

  • cash (or, extra precisely, conspicuous consumption)
  • bodily attractiveness
  • youngsters who go to nice faculties and are athletically profitable
  • and so forth

“The game of life” has grow to be greater than a metaphor. Many folks — obsessive about their standing, profession, or the place their youngsters go to highschool — have internalized this concept and actually view their life not as one thing to take pleasure in, however as a contest to be gained.

This is a tragedy. Life just isn’t a recreation.

A recreation is an exercise the place you compete in opposition to others. In video games, gamers pursue targets with no intrinsic worth. It does not actually matter who places a ball via a hoop (or over an arbitrary line) extra incessantly, proper? Games are ruled by exterior guidelines that the gamers haven’t any function in creating however which they however should comply with. In most video games, there’s just one successful participant or workforce. Most individuals are “losers”.

Before I am going on, let me say I really like sports activities — each enjoying and watching. Games are plenty of enjoyable. They’re nice hobbies.

Games are, nevertheless, a horrible template for all times.

The Good Life

For one, that which is vital in life can’t be competed over. While every of us has our personal particular imaginative and prescient of the great life, we are able to all agree a superb life tends to have sure traits: dwelling by a set of ethics, sustaining significant relationships, time to pursue hobbies, and fulfilling work.

Interestingly, these are all summary, subjective targets that don’t match right into a aggressive framework. It’s inconceivable to measure and examine whether or not Tom Smith or Jane Doe have extra significant relationships. How are you able to say who’s extra fulfilled at work? How do you quantify how nicely you (or I) adhere to a code of ethics?

On the opposite hand, it is easy to match the tangible, goal standards of “success”: who has a nicer automotive, a much bigger home, a extra prestigious job, and children at higher faculties.

If you view life as a contest, you naturally prioritize these issues that may be measured, these issues that may be competed for. This implies that you deal with goal — however in the end petty — considerations. The competitors subordinates what’s significant in life to trivial prizes that may be competed over.

Choose Relationships over Competition

What’s extra, competitors corrodes relationships.

While relationships are advanced, at their core all wholesome fulfilling relationships require real mutual affection. Simply put, try to be rooting for the folks in your life to succeed, glad in the event that they get a promotion or their child will get into Harvard. This is subsequent to inconceivable should you view your life as a contest and the folks in it as opponents.

When you view life as a recreation, you need others to fail — or at the very least to be barely much less profitable than you’re. Viewing life as a contest converts family and friends from folks you care about to those uneasy, ambiguous relationships the place you’re partially rooting for these folks…however concurrently additionally making an attempt to beat them on the recreation of life.

Needless to say, this isn’t conducive to real closeness.

Play by Your Own Rules

Following different folks’s standards for achievement negates what you worth.

You’re a novel particular person, with your personal strengths and weaknesses, your personal targets and preferences. The good life is about making an attempt to reside in line with your values and make the trade-offs that maximize your happiness. This merely isn’t doable once you abide by what the sport values: cash, consumption, tutorial status, youth athletic excellence.

The second you enter the sport, you’ve surrendered your autonomy and are prioritizing what others deem vital. You’re chasing life targets that you just had no function in formulating however which now you’re pursuing for the sake of “winning.” Any “victory” in a recreation the place you’re dwelling life on different’s phrases will in the end show to be Pyrrhic.

Prepare to Lose

You can (and certain will) lose the sport of life, which like all video games is zero-sum.

Maybe you’re one of many .01% who’s extremely sensible, prosperous, charming, and bodily enticing, who finds a beautiful partner, and has a bunch of cute youngsters who find yourself within the Ivy Leagues. If that is the case, I’m glad for you.

For the opposite 99.99% of us, the unhealthy information is that we’re going to take care of frustrations and setbacks and plenty of issues we merely don’t excel at and by no means will. The excellent news is that we are able to nonetheless have an excellent life if we merely take care of these issues as they arrive, comfy with who we’re, surrounded by folks we care about and who love us unconditionally.

However, it is tough to have a superb life when each time we fail we really feel disgrace and embarrassment as we examine ourselves, unfavorably, to folks we deem extra profitable. If you’re enjoying a “game,” the stakes of life’s inevitable failures and disappointments are so excessive that it makes life a terrifying ordeal, haunted by a specter of public defeat on the recreation.

This is not any approach to reside.

Final Thoughts

Comparing your self to others has no good final result. Either you go searching and think about your self inferior to your friends (which makes you insecure and sad), otherwise you deem your self superior (which makes you smug and egotistical). Neither is conducive to happiness or to being a superb individual.

Games are enjoyable and competitors is fulfilling — offered they contain trivial issues. By all means, go all out to win once you golf, run a 5k, or play fantasy soccer. But when these issues are over, go searching at your loved ones, associates, profession, and worth system and understand that these issues are approach, approach too vital to be trivialized by turning them right into a recreation.