Overcome Anything by Gamifying Life
Life is akin to a maze of challenges with us in pursuit of achievements that give our existence significance and purpose; often in the guise of recognition and wealth. We are willing to exchange this for our time, relationships and personal wellbeing without realizing that what we set out for is often achieved, but the sense of meaning we seek remains illusory. When the success or failure of a pursuit becomes irrelevant in gaining fulfillment, life becomes a hamster wheel of hardships.
English philosopher Allan Watts (1915–1973) was a student of Eastern mysticism and philosophy. Reading his works helped me reframe my understandings of myself and the roles we play. Fundamental to his philosophy is that everything is a game: individuals occupy an avatar-like entity navigating the rules and constraints of a make believe reality. The space — our world — continues to exist and evolve whether or not we are a part of it. A revolving door of players enter, influence and get influenced by the space, then exit — leaving behind a terrain for a new generation of players to repeat the same.
So what’s the purpose of all this? Why does this game exist and who exactly are the players that come in and out?
We can assume that our separate physical forms play a big part of where we derive our identity and sense of self. Another source of our individuality would be our inner lives, our thoughts and experience of the world around us.
It’s scientific fact that our body is made of elements, 93% emerging from violent supernova explosions deep in the universe and the remaining 7% being the first element created after the big bang — hydrogen.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan would concur, we are made up of stardust and therefore we are the universe itself. Our base ingredients also form the building blocks of the world we experience, uniting us with each other and planet we inhabit.
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson
If at a fundamental level we are the universe, then our conscious experience and perspective of our reality is the cosmos exploring itself and all of its potentiality. We are powered by a primordial intelligence that is both creating and experiencing itself.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” — Carl Sagan
As Watts puts it, if you had a light covered with a black ball with pinholes all over it, each one of us is a pinhole through which this light looks out of. We live thinking that we are just this one pinhole looking out into the world without realizing that we are the very life force that created it all in the first place.
Internalizing this profound revelation opens a new realm of experience. The hardships of life simply become a part of a game we’re playing. Living with the knowledge that we are both our individual selves and also the universe itself expands our sense of being, unlocking joy and acceptance of who we are and the world around us. Work becomes an art and an expression, built from a place of abundance. We create to leave behind a space for future life to thrive in. The pursuit of money, fame and other egotistical objectives become irrelevant and our motivation would be to grow, evolve, explore and become more than what we were at birth. Life becomes a game to play, where humans express their creativity and build systems through cooperation, and with the sole aim of allowing life to flourish.