Why Life Is Like An App Game & How To Score More Happiness Points
Recently I played a few app games with my 3 year old son (Ari Salmansohn). Or at least we tried to play. There were no instructions. We did not know the mission of the game. Nor did we know how to get the most points to achieve whatever this mysterious mission might be. Where were we supposed to aim our avatar? At that flashing green thing? Or should we avoid it? Did the blue blobs earn more points than the red blobs – or vice versa? What was the point of earning points? What could we even get with them?
Not knowing any of these answers made my son and I feel stressed and unhappy. We did not enjoy playing this app game. At. All.
I’m a philosophical gal. I even named my son Ari as a “wink” to Aristotle the philosopher – who I have a platonic crush on. So I wound up thinking about my app unhappiness in a philosophical way. In particular, in an Aristotlean way.
I remembered how Aristotle was a big believer that you must begin all projects with the “final ends” in mind. You must know exactly what it is you want to achieve – your mission – before you start any project. This applies to everything from writing a book, to making dinner – or even when it comes to approaching that gigantic project called Your Life.
Aristotle said: “Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right?” When it comes to knowing your mission for life, Aristotle believed your final ends for life are the same as my final ends. In fact, everyone on this planet shares the same final ends for life:
Become your best possible self!
Plus, Aristotle believed becoming your best self was not only your mission for life – but also what leads to true happiness.
Now, a lot of you right now might be wondering what the heck all of this has to do with that app game. It’s simple. My son and I didn’t enjoy playing that app game because Aristotle was right. You must know exactly what you want to achieve – your final ends – your mission – before you begin any project – from playing app games to playing at that gigantic Game of Life.
I thought about how unhappy my son and I were when we did not know the final ends for that app game – then I thought about what it takes to create happiness in life – then a realization emerged….
Once you fully and clearly understand your mission for Your Life, then life becomes less stressful – and it becomes far easier to score those glorious life happiness points – and become a winner at life!
Aristotle had some particular suggestions for scoring life happiness points. He recommended aiming yourself at “Best Self” habits – including things like: high integrity, kindness, mindfulness, patience, discipline, courage, altruism, generosity of spirit, love of learning, love of doing your innate passions, etc… Plus Aristotle suggested you avoid doing “Lowest Self” habits – because they’ll simply get you whacked, kicked and fire-bombed. “Lowest Self” habits are pretty much all the opposites of the items shared on the “Best Self” habits list. Plus, “Lowest Self” habits also tend to be anything impulse-directed, ego-directed, and/or body-directed – like cheating, lying, stealing, pigging out, sleeping around.
Basically Aristotle suggested you aim yourself at doing soul-directed habits – behaviors your soul can be proud about.
I thought about how I wished somebody had clearly told me when I was a kid this final ends mission for life. I could have avoided a lot of painful whacking, kicking and fire-bombing. I wish someone had sat me down and stated in a very matter of fact way: “Yo Karen! There’s a reason why you are here on this planet! Your mission here is to become your best possible self! You can accomplish your mission by aiming yourself at as many people and/or habits which will stretch you and bloom into a better you – while simultaneously avoiding aiming yourself at people and/or habits which will shrink you or hurt you – or shrink or hurt others – or the world at large.”
Unfortunately, nobody ever sits us down to so succinctly explain that this is our life’s mission. As a result many of us wind up with highly incorrect “life missions” playing in an ongoing loop in our heads.
SOME EXAMPLES OF FAULTY LIFE MISSIONS:
To become the richest person on the planet!
To become the thinnest/prettiest girl on this planet!
To have the best wardrobe on this planet!
To be the most famous person on this planet!
To party and have fun, fun, fun!
To have the most orgasms as possible!
To have the most power as possible!
To get lots and lots of people to fall in love with you!
These are all ego-directed missions and body-directed missions – instead of missions which the soul can be proud about. According to Aristotle all of these missions which are purely ego-directed and/or body-directed lead to “pleasure” – a form of “fake happiness.” Pleasure is a temporary hit and run joy. It’s fleeting. According to Aristotle, if you want to be a winner at life you have to do stuff which helps you become your best you – and this happens when you aim yourself at habits your soul can be proud about.
I believe it’s wildly helpful to have a mindful awareness that becoming your “best self” is what leads to winning at the game of life. I believe this so much, I’m now raising my 3 year old son with this “life mission” awareness.
I have specifically told him: “Ari, there’s a reason why you are here on this planet. You are here to become your best self – which also includes helping others to be their best selves and helping this world to be a better place.”
My hope is to empower my son to develop a wise inner voice – which will guide him to avoid aiming himself at people and habits which whack, kick and firebomb him!
Now whenever I catch my son making a less than wise choice, I relate it back to his “life mission.” I don’t say, “No, don’t do that.” Or, “No don’t eat that.” Or, “No, don’t talk to someone that way.” Instead I remind him of his mission for life – and how doing these things won’t help him snag being a winner at becoming his best self. Because my son loves app games, I’m talking to him in language he understands. I’ve witnessed a true improvement in his behavior. He now on his own loves to brush his teeth, eat healthy, read books, be kind and generous. He even told me that his favorite red Power Ranger’s power is “studying.” He explained, “When you study you become your best most powerful you – and you can do anything.”
I’d love to bring this “life mission” concept to as many parents and educators as possible. I’d love to remind parents and educators how important it is to not simply blurt a “no” or a “stop” when you catch a child doing something unwise. Instead we must teach kids to understand the “why not” behind a “no” or a “stop.” We must raise kids to become good choice makers on their own – even when parents and teachers are not around. I believe an effective way to do this is to take the time to talk with kids about their mission for life – and the importance of doing habits which help you become your best you!
And speaking of YOU….
I also believe that whoever YOU are – however old YOU might be – it’s helpful to think of life in this way – as being like a gigantic app game – and if you want to rise up to higher and higher levels – you’ve got to aim yourself at actions your soul can be proud of!
I’d love to hear your insights on the comment section below! What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read the message on this essay? Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool!