Life Is A Game And This Is How You Win At Being Human

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I once read a book that got me thinking about how life feels similar to a multi-level video game.

It clued me into this realization: That the more intimately I knew the rules of life and the better I got at navigating them, the more levels I could ‘unlock’ to my advantage…and win.

Since then, I’ve won some and lost plenty, but more than anything, getting to know these rules taught me that winning isn’t about keeping a scorecard of accomplishments or being better than everyone else.

Ultimately, life is about learning how to be a better human.

That book was called If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules by Chérie Carter-Scott.

Having experienced more of life (and my first pandemic) since I first read Life Is A Game, I felt that it was time to write a post inspired by it.

And so, let the games begin:

Rule #1: The Rules Can Be Changed At Any Time

“Be fast, have no regrets. If you need to be right before you move, you will never win.”

~Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, it’s that no matter which path we’re on, life can throw us a steep, non-negotiable curveball before hurling us down a 90-degree cliff — at any moment and without warning.

When will the roller-coaster madness end? Nobody knows. Maybe never.

And so the rules that you’ve been so used to playing by day in and day out for years? They can be re-written in an instant.

To thrive as a human, you’ll need to be able to be ready to play by them with an open mind, strap your seatbelt on, and then work up the courage to adapt and reinvent yourself.

And do it fast.

Rule #2: Humility Will Take You Far

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

~C.S. Lewis

Going about your business with an air of know-it-all arrogance can gain you some attention, but it won’t earn you any respect.

To win, you’ll need other people to help you, and people would rather help someone that they can relate to, like, and can learn from, not an a**hole who thinks they’re right all the time.

Rule #3: When Looking For Answers, Start With You

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

~Carl Jung

Whenever someone asks me “what’s wrong?” and I say “I don’t know”, I’m usually lying, and chances are, so are you.

Not only do I know why I’m upset or bothered, I also know what I need to do to fix it.

I just don’t want to admit what’s wrong or do the hard, uncomfortable work of solving the problem.

To win, you need to get past the obstacles that are holding you back.

But to break past them, you need to look inward, be brutally honest with yourself, and acknowledge the internal resistance that’s keeping you from making meaningful change.

Rule #4: Gratitude Changes Everything, So Use It

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


It can be tempting to brush this one off as woo-woo, new-age rubbish, but as far as its benefits go, researchers who’ve studied gratitude say their data has its back: A regular gratitude practice can make you feel more optimistic about your life.

It can also help to create healthier, positive changes in your life like exercising more and seeing the doctor less — two positives that people who tend to focus on the aggravation in their lives, lack.

To start making gratitude a regular part of your life, try making this a regular practice: Write a thank you note, letter or email to someone who’s impacted your life positively.

Then, send it or better yet, read it to your recipient in person.

Rule #5: When In Doubt, Be Kind

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

~Amelia Earhart

There’s darkness and malevolence in the world, but there’s also light and good people in it.

It’s not easy to be kind all the time when you’ve gone through a lot of s*it and your heart’s been somewhat hardened because of it, but think of it this way: Would you rather be a source of light or darkness in this world?

To the stranger who saw me driving around anxiously in a hospital car park, motioned for me to circle back to you and patiently saved your spot for me on your way out, thank you — you’ll never know how much your kindness helped me that day.

Rule #6: You Only Get To Have One Body

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

~Jim Rohn

Your body is the vehicle through which you experience the world.

It lets you see, taste, touch, hear and feel. You can walk, run, jump, fly (with help, of course) and do so many other amazing things that bring you joy, exhilaration and adventure.

It’s self-cleaning (mostly), self-rebalancing, adaptive and always evolving.

But like anything else in nature, it has its limits. There’s only so much salt, sugar, fat, alcohol, toxins and narcotics that you can pump into it before it gives out.

Put it through too much stress for too long, and it’ll start breaking down.

Once that breakdown happens, there may not be a way to fix it.

Take good care of it and it’ll give you a lifetime of experiences, memories and adventure.

Rule #7: You Must Create The Life You Want

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

~Ray Bradbury

You can believe that life is just a series of events that happen to you, in which case, the world is a stage and you’re one of billions of puppets controlled by other people and circumstances.

Or you can believe that yes, there are some things that you can’t control, but on the other hand, there are also plenty of other things that you can.

You can choose how to think, how to respond, what to say and what to do about the curveballs that come your way.

This means that the motion, intention and energy you put behind something can and will be shaped into whatever it is you want.

Which is it going to be?

Rule #8: Make Curiosity Your Best Friend

“If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity just might lead you to your passion.”

~Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve always been passionate about my work, but for a long time, the biggest motivations in my drivers seat were deadlines, obligations and survival, leaving very little room for creativity, joy and curiosity.

But ever since I started prioritizing ruthlessly to live more and exist less, curiosity has taken the lead as my primary motivation.

This change alone has opened my mind to more ideas and possibilities than I ever imagined — not surprising, given curiosity’s track record in the world of inventions.

Without it, Thomas Edison may not have introduced us to the light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell wouldn’t have given us the telephone, and Charles Babbage wouldn’t have developed the world’s first digital computer.

I’m no inventor, but I’m pretty sure that indulging in my curiosity has made me a better writer.

In fact, researchers have the data to back up my hunch that this particular trait helps people and their teams win: In a survey of over 3,000 people across different firms and industries, 92% attributed curiosity to their team members bringing new ideas to the table.

They also found that when people were curious, they tended to view tough situations more creatively.

Start making time and space to experiment and explore out of the box, and you will be rewarded richly for it.

Rule #9: Money Is A Powerful Tool. Use It Wisely

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”

~Ayn Rand

Money equals leverage, and the more of it you have, the more levers you can tweak to your advantage.

But the key to making money work for you is to be discerning with the kind of leverage you focus your attention on.

If your preferred leverage involves consuming copiously and luxuriously, you may just find yourself running dry further down the road, no matter how much money you make.

Using your money to grow and preserve your wealth, on the other hand, will likely lead you down the path of a secure, financially-free future where you also have the option of giving generously to others.

Strive to be a good steward of the money you have, and you’ll truly be able to go wherever you want to.

Rule #10: How You Treat Others Is A Reflection Of You

“You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.”

~Chérie Carter-Scott

If we dislike someone, it probably means that they’re bad or not good for us, right?

Not necessarily.

How we feel about other people can be more about us than it is about them.

Sure, there are people that legitimately rub us the wrong way or we just aren’t compatible with, but often, we tend to view others through the lens of our own past experiences, feelings and thoughts.

Despite this, we convince ourselves that our perceptions are objective and disconnected from our personal issues, says Carter-Scott in If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules.

Being aware of this tendency and accepting it opens up the opportunity to examine our relationship with ourselves — strengths, weaknesses, warts and all.

This inward examination helps us see the parts of ourselves that we want to embrace more of, as well as the parts that we want to reject. Both can serve as clues as to how we can heal ourselves.

So before being quick to judge, it may be more worthwhile to look in the mirror instead.


If you’re too busy surviving, chances are, you’re not thriving. You’re feeling tired, unhealthy, unmotivated and just plain worn-out from life. I created my FREE Daily Self-Care Ritual Workbook just for busy folks like you who want to take back their health, peace of mind and happiness. Get your very own copy of the workbook HERE. No spam. Just helpful, good-for-you stuff. Pinky swear.

Feature photo: Cláudio Luiz Castro on Unsplash

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