I knew a woman quite a few years ago who could associate a scene from almost any movie, to a biblical precept, at the blink of an eye.  Since my acquaintance with her and this quirky use of metaphor, I’ve perceived many a life-lesson from the games I play on my phone.

For example, these are some things I’ve learned from playing an object-matching game:

  • Instead of trying to make something happen, let something happen; move away from seeking, to finding;

In this game, I sometimes look intently for patterns, my eyes darting all over the game board trying to make matches.  Then, I settle down, and take a wider view, observing the obvious side-by-side or vertical matches.

Concomitantly, often in life I think we try really hard to make certain things we want, materialize.  We would probably be better served if we just went about our days, doing what comes next and let happen, what happens.  If one believes in a “higher power” who guides our lives, then we should let “Him” guide.

  • Sometimes you have to train your eye away from the thing that screams, “look at me,” the flashing objects;

This game is timed, like most electronic games.  Also, it urges the player to use flashing clues, so that we have to watch more ads to continue playing.  In life, like this game, the timer is flashing and clues about what to do next, abound in the back of our minds: “hurry up,” “the deadline is looming,” “you should do this or that,” “you’ve only got so much time to get this done or….”

I once heard a preacher repeat Charles E. Hummel’s phrase from his 1960s booklet of the same name, don’t let the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ guide your decisions.  When you feel pressured by outside demands (flashing lights, advice, timers, etc.), stop and purposely go into low, slow mode.

  • It helps occasionally to look away, take a break and refocus our attention;

Even though this game, and most computer games drive players to keep going, what with scores to attain, prizes to accumulate, clues and hints to amass, and explosions to avoid; it helps to get up, move around, stretch your legs, and divert your attention from the game.

Coming back to the game after a break, refocuses your attention and strategy becomes clearer.  In life, after you’ve worked on a project, or the same task, for a long time, your senses become dull and you need refreshment either in terms of fresh air, a drink, a meal, a conversation, or a shopping trip.  At any rate, a moment away from an intentional endeavor, makes returning to it crisp and your mind alert once again; your attention quickens.

  • You can tell a person a hundred times to go with the flow, but until they see for themselves how much better it is to stop pressing and relax, they can’t enter into the flow of things;

Have you ever clenched your jaw, in effortful work?  Some of us even sleep with our necks, heads, and shoulders constricted.  Chiropractors thrive on these habits learned and practiced by millions of us.

When playing this game for a while, I notice my jaw tightening and my teeth heading to lock-down.  Then I have to make myself loosen up; as in daily life, when I’m intensely working.  I repeat the mantra: loosen up, unfasten the screws, release, and let it flow.

  • I could pay for the convenience to play this game without ads. But I’ve found that I’m challenged to play better, smarter and more efficiently, knowing I’ll have to wait through an ad if I don’t.  

Translation to social life: work smarter, not harder.  And, not everything in life can be bought.

To close these thoughts, I’ve included some life-lessons I learned from playing Solitaire:

  • Sometimes you just don’t have the cards to win;
  • If you stick with it long enough (endure, persist, reconfigure, rethink your technique, etc.), sooner or later, you’ll win;
  • Sometimes risk pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t;
  • You can do everything right and still lose;
  • You’ll never know if one simple choice cost you the game;
  • Don’t agonize over a no-win situation. Move on;
  • Don’t play your cards too soon, wait it out;
  • You win when you’re not trying so hard and when you least expect it;
  • If your goal is playing the game, you’ll enjoy the process, and it won’t decrease your chances of winning;
  • When you’re winning, you get a simplistic attitude that, “this is easy. All you have to do is play strategically;”
  • When you’re losing, you reason that you just don’t have the cards. You think, “strategy has little to do with winning this game, it’s mostly chance;”
  • Don’t worry about the score. If you play through you can win with a score of zero;
  • Sometimes you get down to the last couple of moves and you’re sure you’re going to lose. It looks impossible then you turn over one card and everything changes;
  • It’s easy to win. It’s hard, very hard to keep hoping that you will ever win when you lose time and again;
  • When I reached a win/loss ratio goal that had been insurmountable for months (50%) I noticed that playing the game had become more relaxing.

Have fun playing your own learning-games, and Godspeed with these metaphors in life.

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