Game of Life: Life as a Game

I posted this entry on life more than a year ago, but decided to bump it to the top after editing. As it goes with ‘hope’, ‘inspire’ and ‘dream’, I want to keep the 4 entries together.  I made changes to this entry because I like to change things up as my ideas evolve over time.

What is the best approach to life? We all know life is rough. There are a billion things out there waiting to kill. We hear cases of friends, family & people we look up to dying from different causes. Cancer, car accidents, heart failure, stroke, AIDs, other diseases like diabetes, ALS, Tuberculosis, MD, you name it. There are other issues. Poverty, hunger, various levels of crime, climate change, energy crises, you get the picture. On an individual level, you may lack the time to do things, work stress, financial problems, etc. In times of such issues, which are not new by any stretch of the imagination, how do you move forward and still manage to live your life to the fullest?

Photo by Dennis Hill / CC BY

Photo by Dennis Hill / CC BY

 

Game of Life

I believe the answer is to treat your life as a big complex game. I would call it the “game of life.” Live your life as an older kid with responsibilities. Don’t look at them as responsibilities but look instead as bartering different aspects of your life.

The best example I can give is playing monopoly as a child. Of course, the goal of monopoly is to make money and buy property, but think about the process. Where you end up is at mercy of a dice, but you are also at the mercy of your decisions along the way that can change the outcome of the game.

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Similarly, the issues you deal with in life often propagate down to the roll of a dice. Sometimes you gain and sometimes you lose. Along the way, you get your collection of choices and decisions that can make you win or lose the game.

It’s a game of free will, which I tend to believe in. I have mentioned in past entries that I’m against beliefs, such as astrology, that attempt to trample on free will. If all our decisions we make along our path of life make no difference to who we are then what’s the point of living?

What makes life intriguing is our ability to make these choices! If everything was already pre-destined, then you are powerless. The food you want to eat tomorrow, the movie you want to watch, etc would all be already chosen before you even think about it! Lets say you are to take an exam for a calculus course. An astrologer says you will ace it. Can you pass that exam on destiny alone without studying and without showing up for class? Imagine you decide to watch movies and party all semester. I dare you to pass on destiny alone. You still have to put the work in so destiny goes out the window. (Although now, someone might say you were ‘destined to work hard all along’ haha. Can’t win this circular argument!).

In life, every person has choices and decisions at their disposal along the way. Each of those choices and decisions do matter and can either make or break you. I say you’re the master of your destiny, but I would be naïve if I didn’t realize that some things are out of your control. For instance, nobody knows they will get cancer or some other disease tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but never live your life in fear.

Life Goes On

My 7th grade history teacher Mr Zeh used to say “Life goes on. Get used to it.” I used to get irritated by that. I recall having an argument with him when he said that to me over question of partial credit he gave for something I felt I deserved full credit for (I still remember it from back then heh), but I understand his point now. Don’t fret over the small stuff or even the big stuff. Life does not stop for anybody. Put yourself high enough spiritually that no worries & no fear can touch you.game of life, voltaire

Of course, this does not mean that because you consider life a game, it gives you the right to do as you wish. I realize that this sort of belief can give somebody the license to do whatever they want, but that’s not something I would ever say. The difference between an actual game like monopoly and life is that every decision you make in life is a one-shot deal. In monopoly, you can stop playing when you feel like it or restart from beginning or rip the board into pieces & quit. In life, there is no pause or restart button.

There is, of course, a quit button to life but once you press quit, it is game over for eternity. You can believe in heaven or rebirth if that helps you sleep at night. As far as I know, after analyzing different major religious belief systems out there during highschool, college, and beyond school, I believe there is not enough credible evidence for either heaven or reincarnation. The biggest fear people have in life is death so people have tried to find ways to cope with that fear. I will always keep my mind open, but until then, I believe life is a one shot deal. I’m at peace/satisfied with that. Stopping here before I get off-topic – ideas on death is saved for future blog entry.

It is a serious game, but also a game with many approaches. Approach life in an honest playful way, and the game will be a success.

airjordan

Humor

This game I refer to also includes humor within its midst. I did not always think of it this way, but I now believe humor is the essence of life. I do not have a great sense of humor myself, but I realize that humor is essential. When you play the game of life, you must make light of things along the road. Laughter without living is a wasted life but living without laughter is tragic.

I have told people things like “Life is just a game”, “The universe is out to kill you, but play hopscotch around it”, “Treat your job like a big game”, “No jokes are off the table”, “Start acting like a kid for once.” For saying some of these things, people have called me a troll. An immature loser. I have even been blocked for jokingly calling someone a clown with a big smiley. I had forum discussions with people about my stance of why being a kid for life even as an adult is fine.

People sometimes respond with insults. My response? I laugh off the name-calling, and I realize now that people don’t expect you to respond to insults with humor. I understand it might seem like I condone insults and name-calling by disregarding it or laughing it off, but I feel as if you have to put yourself high enough mentally/spiritually that it doesn’t hurt you.

Too many people don’t understand you cannot be serious about everything all the time! These same people don’t take the time to wonder and try to figure out life philosophies and are too stuck with being like everyone else that they forget what it is like being themselves. It almost feels as if people have forgotten what humor is or the importance of pondering upon such things.

Don’t take the obstacles you face in life too serious or your life will become too serious (and depressing)! I don’t talk much and spend a lot of time pondering so I may come across as serious all the time, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

[I posted original entry concerning the cartoonists in Paris killed in January 2015 for drawing Muhammad in a satirical article so following 3 paragraphs concern that. I do discuss religion a bit and philosophy of morality, feel free to skip over it if you truly must]

A Just Life

This reminds me of the cartoonists murdered recently for portraying humor. Humor is a part of life. People who go on a mass-murder spree for reasons like these are not doing it for religion; they are doing it because either there is something mentally wrong with them or they have no basic logical understanding of what their own religion teaches them. If god exists and is ‘just’, no ‘just’ god would ever support such crimes in their name. Almost every religion has some notion of “treat others with respect” written in there.

Humor should not be suppressed as long as there is no specific target for the jests in evil violent way. I have seen humor insulting skin color, ethnicity, mental illnesses, gender, etc which is going too far. This is a simple matter of principle of morality, which are principles we must hold as a kid unto death.

I made a strong stance that I will not blog on religion, but I will make a small detour here as this is a matter of principle & morality. No ‘just’ god would want people killed just for making a joke about them if god was “perfectly good”. If god has a problem with jokes & would want people killed for that then god is no longer “perfectly good.” It is one or the other – it cannot be both. As far as upholding religious ideals goes: God does not need a human bodyguard for personal protection if god is perfectly all-powerful. If god does need a human bodyguard, then god is no longer all-powerful. It is one or the other – it cannot be both. If it is the latter in both cases (unjust god), then that is not a god I would want to worship anyways.

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One takeaway point is whether afterlife/reincarnation exists or not is irrelevant to how you behave in this life. If you live a noble life with focus on virtues & honor, then that is good enough. On the other hand, if you are only good because of fear of god, then are you truly good at all? I don’t want to get into a philosophical debate here, but I believe you become a good person because YOU CHOOSE that road rather than due to the repercussions. It’s equivalent to saying “Johnny there is paranoid, insane, lacks character & has a scary dark side, but he is only a good guy because of his fear of god. Otherwise, he would be the next mass murderer killing millions.” Is Johnny truly good at all then from morality perspective? He still is paranoid, insane, lacks character & has a scary dark side.

I do see one problem with that quote: what is a ‘good’ life? Every belief system differs in what a ‘good’ life consists of. It becomes somewhat subjective once we get beyond the obvious things (murder BAD, charity GOOD, stealing BAD, friendship GOOD haha).

Conclusion

The only life that should matter is a good ‘just’ life lived for the betterment of society. Such a life may include things like humor, selflessness, respect, honor, curiosity, asking big questions, humility, wonder, willing to discuss & have friendly arguments about philosophy/sports/games/etc, perseverance over obstacles in life, etc.

Play a complex game of life. The game is tough. You will fall along the way, you will lose along the way, you will run into brick walls, but what defines you is your ability to overcome. What truly matters is how you respond. GET BACK ON YOUR FEET, SOLDIER! [/actor Lee Ermey’s voice]

Live a good life of laughter, my friend. Do not always take things too serious – add a grain of light to everything. Roll the dice, be daring, seek some entertainment, be a little bit weird, be curious, befriend people, explore the world. Play the game the ‘right’ way and you will be victorious at the end of the day. That is what living is. Go live!

Hope. Inspire. Dream. Live.

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Harsh Shukla

I am an Information Technology graduate from Rutgers University New Jersey, USA. I like to blog about my interests in science, technology, philosophy, and about the wonders of life.
Hope. Inspire. Dream. Live.
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