Doing things differently since 1984
I am probably dating myself by writing this (and sealing my fate as Totally Lame), but can you remember back to the time before Minecraft, Angry Birds, and Bejeweled? When online games were hard to come by, and an “app” was something you mailed off to a college? Well, back in those days we had a limited choice in entertainment for those in-between times, or those “just 5 more minutes” that could turn into hours of procrastinating whatever else we were supposed to be doing. So what was one to do? The answer: WinGames!
For those of you who don’t have cause to remember, these little games came by default with every version of Windows — Solitaire, Minesweeper, and FreeCell (can you guess which is my favorite?). Granted, they still come with every version of Windows, along with several others, but that no longer matters, because I got hooked a long time ago. Some might accuse me of wasting countless hours of my youth clicking at meaningless pictures, but I don’t agree. That’s right — I think I’ve
come up with the perfect excuse learned some important life lessons from those seemingly silly, simple little games. Perhaps you’ve learned these lessons elsewhere… or maybe you haven’t learned them yet!
1. Just because something looks like an impossible mess, doesn’t make it impossible.
If you’ve ever dared try a game of FreeCell, you’ll know where I got this one from. The first thing you’re met with is a jumbled mess of cards that you’re expected to put in order, with only a tiny bit of workspace. OK, so life isn’t a bunch of cards, but do you know what it is? A jumbled mess. As if we didn’t come with enough of our own personal issues… we make regular contact with other people with their whole own set of personal issues. And through it all, we’ve still got to get jobs, keep promises, pay bills, keep ourselves healthy, keep ourselves sane…. But, just like you have to do in a simple little card game, we’ve all got to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. Yeah, you can do this.
2. You win by setting smart goals.
All right, if you were hoping for some top-secret FreeCell advice, here it is!: You have to set smart, realistic, useful goals (i.e. gotta get to that Ace!), and find the best way to get there. That doesn’t mean pick out what you want, then plow straight toward it regardless of who and what you’re sacrificing — that’d make you a jerk with nothing left for the next goal. But running around everywhere, trying to fix everything all at once — that gets you frustrated and gets you nowhere. Everything works out better if you find your Ace, that next little goal you know you need in your life, and figure out what needs to be gently altered to make a path to it.
3. Give yourself time in the day to think and reflect.
Maybe this one’s just me, but I have noticed that it is absolutely necessary for my general mental health to have some time to let my mind digest life a little bit – what happened today, what’s happening tomorrow, how I can do things better, why I’m doing things at all, where it’s all leading me… you get the idea. Loosen the reins of constant-action and let your mind think about stuff. For me, I like to play FreeCell while I’m thinking about stuff. Other people might prefer bubble baths, or private chats with a friend, or walks/jogs outside, or whatever else. The point is, reflect. Take 10 minutes and think about your life, or you’ll find that people and things just “happen” to you all the time.
4. It’s OK to fail sometimes.
All right, I’ll admit it, I don’t like this lesson. I’m good with the smart goal-setting, the plan of action, the self-determination to keep at it…. But sometimes, despite all of my planning and effort, things still don’t work out. At these times, it can be better to just let it go and allow the black mark on my win/lose ratio, rather than get myself all wound up about something that doesn’t really matter. OK, I know there are things in life where the prospect of failure at something really, really matters… but not as many as we make ourselves think there are.
5. Revel in your little victories.
Not that I’m bragging or anything…. but I’ve got like a 98% win statistic on FreeCell. I know – you don’t care, do you? See, that’s OK. We all have our little victories that no one else cares about, or no one else is around to witness, but they mean something to us. So by all means, be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small, even if no one else “gets it”! Just, you know, don’t hesitate to shut up about it around other people, before they
stop liking you start thinking you’re totally lame.