When we play a game, we usually focus all our attention on playing and winning. To help us play, we have the support of the game rules and there are referees and umpires to regulate the game and keep score. Thus, when we play within the rules of fair game and the supervision of competent officials, we just need to give our best at playing to have a fair chance of winning. At the end of the game we also know clearly who won and who lost. Generally, there is no doubt in the outcome. Even if the game is tied, we can conclude that our opponent was as skilled as us.
No Rules, No Result
In contrast, the game of real life has no fixed rules and the supervising officials, if present at all, are usually biased. This means that we can never win this game as convincingly as we can win, say a tennis game. Even when we seem to have come out victorious, our opponents never accept defeat and the situations could also alter so fast as to make our victory meaningless. So how can we play this most important game of life?
The Logical Way
To come out on top of the game of life we need to be always alert to the changing rules, interfering outsiders and the fluid situations. Let us say we want to succeed in a new business or a new job. We need to understand the various players in the game such as our customers, our superiors, our suppliers, the regulators and our colleagues. The players are not only innumerable, but they keep changing all the time. We need to understand the market, the tax regime, our employment terms and competition. These are also undergoing constant changes that affect our efforts and their outcomes. In addition, we have our own health and fitness, our intelligence and understanding capabilities and emotional likes and dislikes. Needless to add that they can undergo sudden and substantial modifications. To keep our eyes on all these while we also play the game at our best seems a very tall order. If we take this line of reasoning, we end up with the conclusion that success depends almost entirely on fortune and there is very little we can do about it.
The Right Way
There is a different way of playing the game of life that empowers us to decide our own fate instead of giving up and resigning to our destiny. This method involves shifting a good part of our focus from playing to supervising our own game. This is called self-observation. When I am always alert and aware of how I am playing the game of my life, I can quickly discover the forces aiding and opposing me and how they dance together to create the outcomes. This way of playing is like air force support to the advancing army, which strengthens the army’s effectiveness manifold. When I can not only decide my next action but am also able to observe my decision, action and outcome as a detached third party, I learn tremendously irrespective of the outcome of my actions. This wisdom accrues from failures as well as successes. It reveals to me who is my friend and who is foe. It shows me which conditions favour, and which oppose. Above all it also reveals that none of these – the friend or foe, the favourable or unfavourable – remain constant. This means I never take my life for granted. I am grateful for small successes and never hold any grudge against anyone.
I am now learning to play the game of life as it should be played!
Born in the rich culture of South India and educated in English, I have been exposed to two opposing world views enabling me to achieve synergy and realize true harmony. I belong to linguistic community “Saurashtra” who were silk weavers patronised by kings of yore. Our ancestors are said to have migrated from Western part of India to Tamil Nadu in the South several centuries ago. Growing up in the country as India underwent its pangs of Westernisation, I was able to synthesise the self oriented Western perspective with the community oriented native one to arrive at a wholesome concept of self after considerable efforts and experimentation. My forthcoming book “Searching for Self – In Pursuit of Inner Peace” is the culmination of this labour.