Race Car Drivers, Candy Crush Saga, and the Value of Fun

I’m in Bangkok, sitting in the back seat of a taxi. My brother is to my right and his girlfriend is next to him. My head is buried in my phone.

“What are you doing?” my brother asks.

“She’s playing Candy Crush Saga again,” his girlfriend says and laughs.

“I can’t believe you’re addicted to that game,” he says. “It’s so stupid.”

“Shhhhh. Stop talking,” I say. “I’ve almost beat this level. I need to concentrate.”

Ever since I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast in which Jane McGonigal said that Candy Crush Saga helps to eliminate food cravings, I’ve been experimenting with playing more games.

Until about two weeks ago, I was the girl who would NEVER play video games because it was “a waste of time.” I had much more serious endeavors to pursue. But now I’m not so sure I was right. Recent research has found that the game Tetris helps people recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Candy Crush Saga can eliminate food cravings by as much as 20%. There are cognitive, social, resilience and physical benefits to playing other games as well.

I’m starting to wonder why I was so dang serious as a teenager and young adult. Everything seemed soooo important: getting good grades so I could get into a good college, pleasing clients so I could get more, responsibly managing my finances, acting dignified so everyone would think I was important/smart/capable/bleh. Sure, delivering to clients and not getting into debt matters. But, why can’t it be a game? Games are so much more fun than boring, soul-sucking adult obligations.

How Becoming a Race Car Driver Changed My Life (or At Least My Driving)

I’ve noticed that the more I view challenges as a game, the better the outcome. Take driving, for example. When I first started driving, I hated it when there was road construction. All of those orange cones lined up and begging to be hit. I’d have a mini nervous breakdown every time I encountered a lane with both sides lined with those menacing orange cones. Why did they have to put them so close together?

Then, one night, I found myself in the passenger’s seat next to my date who encountered one of these orange-cone-flanked roads. My stomach turned. Thank goodness he was driving and not me.

“I love this construction,” he said as he sped past the cones. “I like to pretend like I’m a race car driver!”

The next time I encountered the dreaded cones, I pretended like I was a race car driver and my fear instantaneously went away. Now I have to watch myself for speeding whenever I enter a construction zone.

If You’ve Gotta Suffer Through It Anyway…

The thing is, we all have obstacles we’d rather not face. Sometimes these obstacles are small, like a neighbor mowing the lawn at 7:00 am and disturbing your sleep. Sometimes these obstacles are large, like losing a loved one (and need a grieving period before you can think straight).

What happens all too often when we face any obstacle, is that our brains get fixated on how life is “supposed” to be. And when life doesn’t fit that pre-determined script, it makes us miserable.

In games, there are always bad guys to overthrow and new levels to beat. You expect adversity because it’s what makes the game fun and interesting. If you don’t make it to the next level, it’s no big deal. It’s just a game. You can start the level over, wiser and more skilled.

As I go along my path, I’ve been trying to train¬†myself to see the delight in every detour, mistake and challenge.

I’m constantly asking myself:

  • How can I make this fun?
  • How can I view this differently?
  • How can this challenge lead to more love, growth and joy?
  • What are the pros of this predicament?

Whether it’s treating a construction zone like a NASCAR track or puddle jumping on a rainy day or having the best damn time on a vacation by yourself (because the love of your life just dumped you), you have the power to make life significantly more delightful simply by changing your perception.

Plus, you’re way more fun to be around and way less likely to have high blood pressure.

Now whenever I’m stuck in the back of a taxi, I whip out my phone and play a little Candy Crush Saga or Tetris in hopes that I can keep that fun-loving child inside me alive.

All my love,

Laura

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Showing 2 comments
  • craig hyland
    Reply

    Hi Laura,

    Hope you remember me. I’m so glad you’ve moved into a better part of your life. I agonized over your problems, because I’m a friend of your Dad. I find your writings very appropriate to where I am in my life. Your dad can tell you about me. Keep your head high and your wonderful view of life.

    Best wishes always,

    Craig

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Craig – Of course I remember you. Thank you so much for your kind words and being such a wonderful friend to my father.

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