This Day: The Games of Life
Childhood memories of playing the board game Life drift through my mind lately. As kids, we had the plain, no frills version. Today, my children play a more contemporary version branded by Sponge Bob Square Pants. Regardless of what brightly colored marketing covers the box, the game hasn’t changed. Within a few moves, you have a car full of pink and blue pegs maneuvering around the course until, SMACK—you hit one of those “bad” spaces that require you to pay some wildly expensive bill.
How about another favorite board game? Do you remember, Pay Day? My sister and I entertained ourselves for hours, lapping the board that resembled a calendar month as we excitedly rolled the dice in hopes of landing on a “good” spot. We delighted in collecting our pay and then seeing the paper money disappear on payments for car repairs, dental work, and rent. Why isn’t this as enjoyable in real life?
Perhaps choosing to view each day or task as a game or an adventure would make it seem more enjoyable. I’m reminded of a time when I had a looming deadline for a huge project at work. I returned to my office one evening in an effort to finish the project, and since I didn’t have evening childcare, I needed to bring my son along. I nestled him in the break room with a drive-through supper and his favorite cartoon channel with the hope that I could count on a good hour of work while Jackson dined on a meal in a box and tuned into his favorite show.
I needed every minute I could scrape together. This specific, and extremely important, project required data to be compiled from multiple spreadsheets into one large spreadsheet. Sadly, it wasn’t a simple copy and paste of columns, but more of a cell-by-cell copy and paste. As I toiled away on the daunting task, my son bounced into my office and asked if I was playing Bejeweled Blitz, referring to the computer game I sometimes play (okay, often play) on Facebook. The keyboard shortcuts I was using and the mouse movements made it appear to him like I was having a grand old time.
Now there was a brilliant light bulb turned on for me! This project was far from the escape I enjoyed when playing a silly computer game for a few minutes. But, at that very moment, influenced by a third grader’s innocent perspective, I changed my attitude toward the dreaded project. I made a choice. I chose to view transferring the data in the same anticipatory way I looked at striving for a place in the upper-echelon of the Bejeweled Blitz players (of which I am rarely a member). What I noticed then was amazing. The simple act of choosing to enjoy that project—pretending, if you will—made the project more amusing. I actually felt like I was playing a game.
How much more fun would we all have if we simply chose to change our attitude toward those “less-than-enjoyable” tasks? Perhaps cleaning off the desk could become a scavenger hunt, the piles of laundry could be a jungle safari, and mowing the grass could turn into the Indy 500. It certainly sounds like more fun. At one time, I had a phrase that hung on my office wall by Mary Engelbreit. It simply stated, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
It’s that simple: Change it. You get to make the choice. You have the control to change the way you think about things that are not to your liking. It might be leaning toward fantasy or pretending, but we can make the choice to embrace something we originally were dreading just by consciously changing the way we think about it. I challenge you to use your imagination to make life for yourself and those around you pleasant, enjoyable, and fun. Until tomorrow, I hope you choose to enjoy this day. [LRW]