One of my favorite board games from childhood was called LIFE. It was full of adventure with twists and turns of gains and losses in a convertible plastic car with holes for gender specific colored pegs representing the people I could potentially collect on my journey. It even had thirty-one careers to choose from such as ice cream flavor maker and secret agent. One difference between the board game LIFE and my actual, physical, living, breathing, sometimes-painful life is that the board game came with instructions. However, the game did not teach me how to live.
What did the game teach me? There is only one winner in life. The winner wins because they acquired the most paper money by the end of the game. Gaining a pink or blue colored spouse or growing a family with multiple pegs did not make one a winner according to the game’s rules. Acquiring relationships was just part of the game. But, according to people who live in the ‘real’ world, partnering with a soul mate, procreating children, or finding purpose through meaningful work are some of the happiest experiences of their lives.
Even though we know the board game is just a game, we are taught from an early age (the box says Ages 8+) to believe that happiness depends on material gain. But as we mature, we discover there is no assurance of financial success according to society’s standards. There is no certainty in any aspect of our lives. Facing the great unknown without instructions can often lead to fear, anxiety, stress, and depression.
We should design new board games for children that teach them how to trust their intuition and heart. It could have unlimited career options for maximum imaginative potential. Players would understand that every moment has possibility and anything can happen between infancy and old age. The goal is to gain knowledge along the journey to discover the self. They can start over at any time or make a move in a new direction following their curiosity. And when ‘bad’ things happen, or they face unavoidable obstacles, the skills they have acquired throughout the game, or the multi-colored peg people who act as guides, will help them find solutions.
Life is actually a game. You are currently playing it. Even though it didn’t come with instructions, you are winning right now. You are always winning if you invest in your soul growth and follow your heart. It’s your move.