Do you play games? We may not consider ourselves as game players, but we are. It is practically impossible to avoid playing social games during our lives. We do, however, have choices regarding the range of games we engage with and how we play them.
Our lives as a set of games
We often think of games in quite a narrow sense, e.g. football, bingo, video and board games. Many are finite games, where the rules are understood between the players and there is a declared winner. The majority of our lives are spent playing games, in a broader sense. Many of these are multi-player games, including those relating to: school, qualifications, family, dating, career and money. For completeness, there are also single-player games, e.g. meditation, yoga and self learning, where there is no sense of competition.
Play to win then exit
The reason to win the game is so that you can be free of it. - Naval Ravikant
Many adult games draw us in, can be played infinitely and cause anxiety. There are ups and downs. When we get something, we are afraid of losing it. Individuals who become wealthy are inclined to set themselves ever higher financial targets; they are rarely satisfied. Steven Bartlett (BBC Dragon’s Den) had a sense of anti-climax the day his company floated on the stock market and he became immensely wealthy.
We have two options to avoid this trap.
Option one is to engage in very few games. A monk’s life is harmonious and peaceful. Not wanting something is as good as having it and that is a source of great power. This option is impractical for all but a tiny minority.
Option two is to select our games very carefully, win then exit them. Once we’ve won, on our terms, then we stop playing the game. We can exit by not comparing ourselves to others. Stop levelling up and trapping ourselves into an anxious future e.g. bigger house, more money, more attractive partner, more senior management position. When we start a game, we should define what winning the game means to us. When we pass that criteria, we know we’ve won and stop playing. Derek Sivers sold his business for £200m, put much of it into trust and now lives with very few possessions. For years I wanted to live in Bath. Now I do and that makes me very happy.
Finite and infinite games book summary by James Carse
How to Play the Status Game interview with Will Storr
5 Stoic Ideas that Help Me post by Phil Martin
Are you playing the games you want to and how will you know when you’ve won?
Now that I'm older I go for Option #1. These are interesting perspectives that I hadn't really considered. Thanks for sharing and educating me!