I pride myself in being rather resistant to articulate, compelling arguments urging me to succumb to peer pressure. The classic line
“Come on! Everyone is doing it!”
does nothing to erode my will. When I think about fads and crazes, I picture lemmings exhibiting a cliff-diving migration into a body of water that results in many dead lemmings.
Not me. When I die, it won’t be with a large group of mindless people. I’ll die standing somewhere alone, thank you very much.
So I was quite surprised with myself when I downloaded a game on my android called Candy Crush Saga. On that day, my self righteous attitude went POOF, and my addiction began.
In December 2012 alone, 10 million people downloaded this game. Do you know what that means on a global level? It means the birth rate for September of this year will be zero.
How wide-spread is this game? Recently I was stranded at the airport during an interminably long delay, and I heard music from the game playing in stereo all around my gate from a thousand different devices, each slightly out of synch with the next. It sounded like Hell’s Waiting Room.
If you, too, are CCS addicted, let me make you feel a little better by pointing out some positive life lessons the game can teach you while you’re waiting for a new life to regenerate. Whether at work, at home, or playing a highly addictive game, know these 5 truths–
1. You don’t have to do it alone.
Do you feel like no one understands what you’re facing? Do you feel like no one has stood in your shoes? Do you feel like you alone face uncharted territories? There’s a good chance others can offer you some help, a few suggestions, a piece of wisdom that can be useful to you on your journey. When you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Do you want to know an exciting CHEAT CODE for life? Listen to someone who’s already mastered what you’re just starting to learn, absorbing both what to do as well as what to avoid.
2. YOU are the main character.
Do you know the little pigtailed girl that travels around the map on the game? Did you know that she even has a name, Tiffi (short for Toffette)? Are you aware that the reason you don’t know or care about Tiffi is that when you play the game it’s all about you? When you fail to complete a level, it’s your failure, not Tiffi’s. When you succeed in completing a level, it’s your success, not Tiffi’s. Neither blame nor credit others for your failures or successes. When you are the main character, you have to accept complete accountability and responsibility for your actions and outcomes.
3. You get better results by avoiding good moves in favor of GREAT moves.
When you make good moves, the voice in the game says things like “Sweet” or “Delicious!” But when you beat the level, the game says SUGAR CRUSH. Keep your eyes on the SUGAR CRUSH aspects of your life, not just the SWEET ones. When I first started playing the game, I soon found that to beat the level, I had to assess many options–but choose the best option. To win, I had to be willing to delay good moves in order to make GREAT moves. In life, to list a few examples, it may be wise to defer marriage until you’ve finished school, hold off putting a down-payment on a swimming pool until you have your bonus check in hand, and delay using all of your vacation days until after the Martin Luther King holiday. “Quick, easy fixes” have a way of creating more permanent, near fatal complications.
4. You have BOOSTERS–use them wisely.
The game offers boosters, special candies, and special candy combinations that supercharge your play and maximize your efforts in removing candies. In the game, you get a couple of boosters for free, and you can pay money for additional boosters (I’ve already admitted to being addicted to the stupid game. Don’t expect me to own up to paying for the opportunity to waste even more of my time!).
We have boosters in life, too, but just like in the game, you best use them wisely. Your boosters are your close friends, family members, and cheerleaders who believe in you, encourage you, and invest emotional energy in you. But unless you show a return on investment, you might end up depleting your boosters–and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Don’t go running to others for help before you’ve done everything in your power.
5. You gotta know when to walk away.
You might think that you can beat the level if you just spend a little more time on it. Maybe play a round or two in bed instead of sleeping. Perhaps pulling it out on a conference call. Even bringing out the game from behind the locked bathroom stall. Don’t. There’s a fine line between an engaging past-time and a life-sucking obsession. Even if you do finish a tough round by working it hard, you know you’re just going to start the next round, right? You’ll be likely to keep your interest in the game longer if you’re able to walk away regularly.
Life’s like that, too. Obsession leads to the Law of Diminishing Returns. If you wish to enjoy ice cream, do it by the spoonful, not the whole carton. If you wish to enjoy a lifetime of listening to music, don’t burn out your speakers or blow out your eardrums by adding too much volume. And if you wish to enjoy playing a video game for some mind-numbing entertainment for months or years instead of days or weeks, pace yourself. You’re less likely to burn out or get bored out of your skull if you learn to put it away and come back when it’s fresh.