Life is a lot like rock climbing or cliff hanging. You know where you want to go but the most immediate need is the next foothold. The next hand grip. You are in the moment of living. Not dying. Hopefully you’ve prepared for this. Even down to the tiniest details, since it’s usually the details that get us. Your clothes, your gear, your metabolism. This is not the time to have a wardrobe malfunction.
It’s true we seek comfort in gurus, psychics and charismatic leaders, but mostly we want someone who can show us the way we should live. Someone who has climbed before us. But like the person who has a terminal illness, no one experience is like another. If you knew you were dying, you might find great joy in meeting one last time with family and friends. Those long talks near the end may strengthen your friendships and make life full of color that you never knew existed. Exquisite love and sunshine. There are others though that won’t go down peacefully. Verbal assaults fly from them as they angrily accuse others of not caring or understanding. Sobs filled with anger and resentment pushes those around them far away. Or at least to the next room only to peek in occasionally. I’ve known both. I’ve also known those young people that never experienced their first kiss. It leaves you wondering about your own life and how short it all seems.
I watched a Ted Talk recently, which I’ll post below. Jane McGonigal talks about her concussion and how she was required to stay in bed for three months. With depression overwhelming her, she had to remind herself how to live. So she made it into a game. She learned to defeat suicidal thoughts and hopelessness. She found allies from friends and family and created power ups with positive thoughts and things that made her smile. She suggests 4 quests that make us resilient. So let’s use her techniques to get ready for our life. You know that difficult days will happen. It’s life. What else is there to expect?
There are four strengths you need to work on. She gives us four quests.
Quest 1. “Stand up and take three steps, or make your hands into fists and raise them over your head for 5 seconds. Worth +1 physical resilience. It turns out the best thing you can do for physical health is not sit still. (The whole audience raises their arms, and she notes some who did both: “Overachievers, I like that.”)
Quest 2. “Snap your fingers 50 times, or count backward from 100 by sevens.” That’s worth +1 mental resilience, which gives more focus and willpower. The research shows that those are both like muscles, and get better the more they’re exercised.
Quest 3. “If you’re inside, find a window and look out of it, or if you’re outside, find a window and look in. Or think of a baby [your favorite animal] and do a Google or YouTube search for it.” This gives +1 emotional resilience. She suggests you try to experience three positive emotions for every one negative — that improves your ability to respond to any challenge.
Quest 4. “Shake someone’s hand for 6 seconds or send someone a quick text, e-mail, thanking them.” That gives +1 social resilience. A great way to increase social resilience is gratitude. (By this point, the audience is incredibly loose and happy. It seems to be working.)
McGonigal has one last bit of science. “People who regularly boost all four kinds of resilience live 10 years longer than everyone else.” That’s where she gets the seven minutes she’s just granted us.
I took the above excerpt from TED Blog and you can read the entire thing if you are interested or just watch the video.
- A game that heals: Jane McGonigal at TEDGlobal 2012 (ted.com)
- Wellness Monday: Resilience Stories (2 of 3) (elyasimukka.wordpress.com)
- Promoting Resilience in Young Children (rasmussen.edu)
- What Does Massive Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling Have to Do With Teaching? (engagetheirminds.wordpress.com)
- Arthur C. Clarke’s Aliens, Jane McGonigal on Ubiquitous Computing and Oscar Pricing (projectmona.com)
- Firemaker, Myth Maker, Adventurer, Warrior (raisingaboy.wordpress.com)
- McGonigal in the Defense of Games, Ambiguity of Insurance Prices and the Number Four (projectmona.com)