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Posted on February 03, 2014.

Playing to Heal(th)

Did you ever lose yourself in playing a game? You can spend hours or days mastering a game, lost in a mental wonderland. Games give immediate feedback, a feeling of power and control over your environment, a sense of either collaboration or competition, the mental gymnastics of puzzle-solving, and so on. It's so easy to get caught up, almost all of us have at some point in our lives, whether it was a computer game, sports, gambling, board games, solitaire, capture the flag, hopscotch, or marbles.

And then perhaps you eventually realized that the game wasn't life, and you stopped playing -- or you're caught up in a game right now and you feel pressured to stop.

First, let me urge you strongly to watch a spectacular and moving TED talk by Jane McGonigal. Perhaps you've seen her before. She's the brilliant and inspiring game designer who swears that games are not a waste of time. In fact, a game saved her life. I'll let her tell her story, because I can't pretend to out-do her.

So, I want you to step back from your life for just one moment and say: What if the game 'is' life? What if you did what Jane did: pictured yourself as a superhero, had a secret identity, a hideout, a sidekick, a butler to keep your car shiny and your gadget belt loaded? It doesn't matter whether these things are real or fictional because it gets results! Challenges during the day become villains, healthy options become power-ups (like Popeye's can of spinach!), and as you get smarter, more productive, healthier and more mentally agile you're leveling up your personal superhero character.

Enter Jane's wacky self-help game SuperBetter!

Sign up and you can track your secret identity, make allies in your fight against bad guys, and choose from pre-made scenarios that are common obstacles to a superhero's well-being. You can choose eating better, strengthening your mind (the original purpose of the game), mindfulness techniques, exercise, stress reduction, and much more.

If you don't like the scenario's pre-made villains and power-ups that you can add to your game, you can make up your own. Let me share some of mine:

I created a quest to remind me to do Lumosity called Lumosity Brainfood.
I created a Breathe Deep & Wiggle Your Toes power-up. (That should remind you of the Crash Course In Mindfulness post on this blog!)
One of the stressors I wrote about in my book SURRENDER™ to Passion is a mindset of obligations. By adding the Evil Obligation Twins bad guys to SuperBetter, I was able to remind myself to change my perception. This one's so cool, I'll share the description:
When I'm doing things I want to do, I'm always confronted by the Evil Obligation Twins: Need To Do & Should Do. They paint all my tasks in the colors of Need & Should!! Then tasks seem huge, overwhelming, undesirable, complicated and pointless. It makes it hard for me to see why there are all these things to do in the first place, and it sucks away my power and passion. I know how to defeat these twins! I have to take out my Wanna Glasses and then I can see all of these activities for what they REALLY ARE: things I really want to do. If they aren't things I really want to do, I can then smite these things off my task list with my Delegate-Delete Gun!

I hope that helps you see how powerful it is simply to change your mind and make life a little more fun and adventurous. Check out the TED talk and if you choose to use SuperBetter.com as your superhero tracking software, maybe we can be allies! Leave me a comment if you want to Play to our Health! Say you want to be my ally, and I'll invite you to ally from my game.

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