Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Do you sometimes wish you could just take a break and play video games instead?
I bet Link feels that way too. Fighting monsters, saving the kingdom, rescuing the princess. If Link takes a break, he could fail. Zelda could die. All of Hyrule could fall.
Sometimes, when I’m playing a game, I get caught up in the drama and the consequences. I identify with the character so much that I start to get stressed out in real life. My perspective shifts from “If I lose, I’ll learn, improve, and try again” to “If I lose, Zelda will die.”
The game stops being fun – and I start making mistakes because of the stress.
This happens to me in real life too.
Helping people, making money, taking care of my family. If I take a break, our business could fail. We won’t make any money and we’ll all starve to death.
My perspective shifts from “If I lose, I’ll learn, improve, and try again” to “If I lose, I will die.”
Life stops being fun – and I start making mistakes because of the stress.
Live your life as if you’re playing the game, not as if you’re in the game.
In other words: Be you, not Link.
Here’s how the world looks from each side of the screen:
|Link (in the game)
|You (playing the game)
|“I’ve got to make money to feed my family.”
|“Let’s see if I can get as many coins as possible!”
|“I’ve got to get all this damned housework done.”
|“Let’s find the fastest way to accomplish this task!”
|“I feel like crap. Why bother doing anything today?”
|“Uh-oh, a status ailment, better wait until it wears off.”
|“I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
|“I’m playing a fun game!”
Which one sounds like more fun to you?
But what if I have real problems?
I’m not trying to make light of your problems. I’m pointing out that if you treat your problems like puzzles to solve or challenges to overcome – like in a video game – that your life will be way more enjoyable.
And you’ll do a better job of solving those puzzles, because your stress nerves won’t kick in and cause you to make mistakes.
So you want me to detach from my life and ignore the real-world consequences?
Not exactly. That’s where the metaphor breaks down. If you hurt someone in a video game, it’s just pixels on a screen. If you hurt someone in real life, they actually hurt.
Treating people as though they’re characters in a video game is called sociopathy. Don’t go there.
But you can detach from your life in the Zen sense without detaching from your life in the sociopathic sense. You can do your best, then let go of your attachment to what you can’t control.
How do I do that?
Begin by noticing when you feel stressed.
Then, each time you feel stressed, repeat a simple mantra to yourself to remind yourself that you want to live a life full of fun instead of a life full of stress. My mantra is “Be Pace, not Link.”
This mantra will remind you to imagine what your life would be like if you were playing the video game instead of being the character in the game. What would you do differently? How would you feel differently?
Practice and repeat. Like all gamers know, mastering a new skill takes practice.
It’s worth it. Changing your perspective can change your life from a stressful chore into a fun adventure.