Recently, I took up the game World of Warcraft (WoW) after a 7 year plus leave of absence. Gaming is one my hobbies I enjoy. While I like the challenge it can present, it also affords me some down time. It is surprising the amount of people who don’t have activities which afford them some down time. But that’s another story. As I was playing it occurred to me that there were some valuable lessons which could be applied to life. Here they are in no order of importance;
Failure is Not the End
When I first made my way back into the game I was lost. My character died way too many times for my liking. But like many other gamers, it was not a big deal. Simply get back up and try again.
In life, we often take failure to heart and forget to rise back up again. Often this is because our confidence and esteem has been eroded over time. It becomes even more problematic if we have been habituated to repeatedly fail. Our brains love repetition; hence failure begets failure.
But if we can habituate ourselves to fail, we can habituate to get back up. And further we can habituate ourselves to have a successful life. It’s all about which pattern we choose to install in our lives.
We tell ourselves it’s easier to get back up in a game because in the end what does it matter? I would not contend that life does not matter, but I would say as a species we love to worry, fret and make dramas over things which rationally are small. I am not talking about the death of a loved one, or some horribly traumatic experience. I am saying that much of what we worry about isn’t worth worrying about.
In gaming, it’s easier and clearer to see this path; In life, it’s harder and often is clouded over with anxiety and stress.
Slamming the Keyboard Does Not Help
Like many gamers I have been guilty of smashing the keys on my keyboard. Mostly it occurs when the pressure is on and I find myself trying to hit the keys faster and faster. Effectively I am in panic mode.
It does not help!
I play my best when I am calm and cool. I am able to see more of what is occurring and can react appropriately.
Life is very similar in that we often make the worst decisions when we feel anxiety and stress. In fact, the more acute the anxiety or stress the more inclined we will feel to act. By contrast our best decisions tend to come when we feel grounded and are not overly reactive. We are relatively calm and able to assess the situation and take the appropriate course of action.
One of my tasks when working with people is to get them to slow down and act from a more beneficial perspective. When we are in panic mode, we are doing a disservice to our own unique potential and talents. Most people are far more capable than they realize, but often the anxiety/stress clouds their minds to the point where they cannot see this.
Persistence is King
As I am effectively a new player to WoW, it is taking me time to learn my abilities, movement patterns and rotations. Rotations can be thought of a pattern. Press 1, Press 2, Press 1, Press 3, Press 1, Press 1. Rinse, Repeat. To become a decent player is to learn the good rotations which sometimes means unlearning bad rotations. In gaming terms, it can take a few weeks before the pattern is committed to memory.
What I find that is consistently true is that it is easy to fall of the wagon. It seems easy to fall back into bad patterns and harder to stay on the good ones. In time though what seems initially difficult can become relatively easy. And if we do happen to fall into patterns we don’t like, we can get back onto a successful path. The caveat there is not to leave it to long before getting back into good habits.
A real-life example might suffice. I am a diabetic who has to take insulin among other medications. I had a cold/flu that took a while to get over – that’s likely due to the fact I am getting older. In that time, I developed some bad eating habits and more importantly did not get back into good ones for some time. Some bad blood results, made me realize how undisciplined I had become. Getting back into a more disciplined eating routine was relatively easy since not a great deal of time had passed. This ties in nicely with the first point. There will always be setbacks and hurdles in life. Therefore its important to get back up and go again.
In case you have not guessed it, smashing the keys is a way of attempting to gain control. Never works in my experience 😊
Use it or Lose It
Did I mention that I had not played WoW for 7+ years? I must admit, I am gaming poorly. It is like I have never played the game before, even though I have played the game extensively for few years prior.
Our brains love repetition and if it does not get it then associated areas of the brain become figuratively dormant. Why is this important to life? Because we can use this information to our benefit.
Take the example of a repetitive unwanted behavior. The less attention we give the unwanted behavior and the less we partake of it, then eventually it will be extinguished. Often there are complex factors which need to be addressed. But the concept is essentially sound as neuroscience so conclusively demonstrates.
The message is stop the unwanted behavior. Often this involves distracting ourselves from the unwanted behavior. Once we are distracted then we try and introduce a more positive behavior.
If I find that I am putting myself down in a game, then my task is to simply stop it. Once it is stopped then introduce something more positive. It can be as simple as a deep breath or taking the time to relax muscles.
Be Clear about Goals and Visions
We are often confused about our goals both in game and in life. My intent in gaming is first and foremost to enjoy myself. If I find that I am not enjoying a game then I do not play it.
During the aftermath of unsuccessful fight, it’s easy to forget what the original goal is. Sometimes I lose track and think that a successful fight is the goal. But it is not, at least not in my case. I am there to enjoy the game. If I am overly worked up because of what has occurred in the game, then its prudent to put the game aside. Sometimes this means sleeping on it or not picking the game up for a few days. Once I am clear in my intent to enjoy myself then good to go again.