Life is a game. But it's not about winners and losers. The goal of the game of life is to keep the game going as long as possible! According to James Carse, author of "Finite and Infinite Games," for any win/loss game (a "finite game") to exist it must include the following:
(1) a beginning and an end,
(2) defined players,
(3) set rules,
(4) an agreed upon way to determine the winner and loser,
(5) and a purpose.
The game of life simply doesn't meet these criteria! Life clearly has a beginning, but what counts as the "end" might depend on your personal perspective. Their are defined "players," or people, our families, long-time friends, and community figures that are predictably a part of our life game. What about the new people we meet: teachers, friends, lovers, who we never expected but shape our lives in ways we could have never imagined? Life doesn't have set rules. While we all share many of the same ideas about what is "right" and what is "wrong," our morals and our ideas of "how to win the game" vary depending on our life experiences and our individual values and aspirations. Life only meets one of the criteria on a finite game: purpose.
The purpose is to keep living!
So much of our mental health is based on how we view ourselves through a comparative lens. We get trapped thinking of life as a finite game that can be won and lost. Life is not actually a finite game, one that has a defined winner. The game of life rules constantly change, the players change, and there is no set objective, other than staying in the game in order to take part in the journey. STOP competing with that dude's car, the social media model, the perfect image captured. It’s fine to take pride in your own life circumstances and even material things. Your achievements throughout life will help you meet your defined set of basic needs. You might even participate in a finite (one with rules) game and earn some respect, esteem, or build up your resilience. Competition has always been a great way to teach us how to overcome adversity, build unity, and advance humanity (ex. space race). Go ahead and win in your next MMA match, be a chess master, or dominate the next test in school. But, outside of the set competition, life’s contest is about keeping yourself and everyone around you in the game!
The unfortunate thing, is that we sometimes believe we’re losing at life’s game when others put their lives on display. Advertisers use the flawed psychology of winning at life, by selling you products that make you believe they’re contributing to life victory! If you don’t stop competing in the game of life, you’ll end up losing yourself completely!
Andy B. and Matt S.