Eric Barker is the only blogger I subscribe to, and I love this week's post. Enjoy.
This Is The Most Fun Way To Make Your Life Awesome
As I was contemplating this idea of improving myself, I thought back to why all these games were so addicting to me. I wasn’t aware at the time, but behavioral psychology and game mechanics often go hand in hand. Specifically this idea of the “Progress Principle” — that progress is the most motivating thing. I started to apply these ideas to my life, and thought, “Instead of getting addicted to another video game, why don’t I apply those game mechanics to my life and get addicted to improving myself?” I took the goals I wanted to achieve and created “levels” so that I could see consistent progress and feel good everyday.
This pattern is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work.
Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment. – Dickinson 1999
The thing I love about “Legend of Zelda” is that every time you go to a new dungeon or a new level, there is a new item that you earn. That item allows you then to progress further in the game and go explore the next dungeon. So why don’t we reward ourselves with things that reward us back? If you could run for just ten minutes every day for five days a week, for three weeks, you earn a new pair of running shoes. Because I completed this mission that I had tasked myself with, I’ve been able to earn something that further encourages me, helps me build momentum and pushes me further down the path of the habit I’m trying to build, the new version of myself I’m trying to create.
Many people don’t recognize that what they’re doing at BUD/S is assessing your ability to handle a difficult circumstance and keep going. It’s a game. If you want to be a Navy SEAL, you’ve got to play that game. You’ve got to have fun with it and you’ve got to keep your eye on the bigger picture.
I thought to myself, “Well, if these things make me feel excited and alive, and I’m living vicariously through characters, what if I reframed how I look at my day-to-day existence too?” Who’s your alter-ego? Jason Bourne, James Bond, or Lara Croft from Tomb Raider? I think something interesting happens within us when we start to reframe our existence and say, “What would so-and-so character do, if they were in this situation?” When I’m imagining I’m Jason Bourne, it makes my workouts even better.
…Prof Langer took physiological measurements both before and after the week and found the men improved across the board. Their gait, dexterity, arthritis, speed of movement, cognitive abilities and their memory was all measurably improved. Their blood pressure dropped and, even more surprisingly, their eyesight and hearing got better.
You’re the average of the 5 people you associate with the most. In a video game, picking team members is easy; you want to group up with the most talented players that support you. In life, we should be thinking about things the same way. Who we spend time with can have such a powerful impact on who we are. When you surround yourself with people doing the things that you want to do, you have people to get guidance from, support from, and people that will keep you on target.
In a 1994 Harvard study that examined people who had radically changed their lives, for instance, researchers found that some people had remade their habits after a personal tragedy, such as a divorce or a life-threatening illness… Just as frequently, however, there was no tragedy that preceded people’s transformations. Rather, they changed because they were embedded in social groups that made change easier…
In my two and a half years living in Nashville, I volunteered every Thursday at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to remind me just how amazing my life was, and how insignificant my problems were compared to the things these kids were going through. Not only that, but these kids had giant smiles on their faces, when I could just come and play games for an hour. Any problem I had or anything I was dealing with at work just instantly vanished and I could be a kid for an hour.
Whatever it is that you’re working on, spend 15 minutes today doing something concrete towards the goal that you’re working on. Don’t be afraid of being terrible at it. If you want to speak a new language, go ahead and butcher the pronunciation of “hello” in that language. Regardless of how much you read about something, it pales in comparison to taking action. Start today, spend 15 minutes. Then repeat that process tomorrow and just get a teenie tiny bit better.