Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Let's play a game

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Have you ever watched a child's eyes as they play a video game? They become so transfixed and are no longer mentally sitting on the couch. They've been transported to a different dimension, focused on saving the universe or rescuing the princess.

Video games have grown from something only the nerdiest of us do to a multi-billion-dollar industry in just a few decades. Clearly, there's something going on to make them so successful. What have video game developers figured out and can we apply it to our lives to become happier?

Developers have come to understand that we all have at least two fundamental desires: to flow and to grow. By combining these principles, they've refined their ability and effectiveness in hooking and engaging the attention of anybody willing to pick up a controller.

We've all heard stories of professional athletes entering what they call "the zone." It's simply described as the moments where our perception of time slows down, while our ability to think and perform at optimal levels remain constant.

Thankfully, we don't need to be pro athletes to experience this flow. All that's required is finding something you enjoy doing, something that you lose track of time while doing. Time flies when we're having fun because of this lost perception. If we're bored to tears, time seems to take forever because we are so much more aware of it.

Lesson # 1: Find your flow

Once we find what we enjoy, we want to improve our abilities. That could mean playing video games. For others, it could mean anything from learning a new language to public speaking, living a healthy life to developing craft beers. What's important here is achieving a level of growth.

Lesson #2: Progress and grow

It is precisely these two principles that lend themselves to the concept of gamification, which is simply the process of turning normal humdrum activities into games and it is quickly spreading.

A Google search of "gamification and schools," yields pages of results. What better way to get students interested in studying subjects like math, science and history than to bring in elements of gaming and friendly competition? I still have fond memories of Government class in high school -- a sentence I'd never imagine uttering, had it not been for our occasional Jeopardy-themed review sessions.

How can you apply these principles to your own life? Can you find a hobby or activity you enjoy doing to bring some extra joy into your life? If you've already got that part down, how could you go about improving your abilities in that area? Even further, how could you use the elements of gamification to improve your experience in doing things you dislike?

As a child, I hated - I mean hated - doing the dishes. Once I developed a system of awarding points to certain pieces of silverware I washed, I became more focused on which group of silverware would win the sink battleground. This helped me to stop whining about washing the dishes and to focus on what I was doing. I've said it before, I didn't have the most exciting childhood.

Visit and click the blog titled, "Fix your growth," to hear more about gamification. You'll also learn the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, which can be quite an eye opener. As always, thanks for reading!

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Get Fresh with Andy Frisch
Andy Frisch, column, exercise, fitness, fun, games, health, nutrition, personal trainer, wellness
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