Leveling Up in Life

“Everything is figureoutable.”

Marie Forleo 


A habit that I have when it comes to video games is to play them at the highest difficulty.

I might seem like a nutcase for doing so, and well, maybe part of it does have to do with my curious and adventurous nature — but it has taught valuable lessons on overcoming hardship.

For one thing, I’ve learned that there are always smarter and better ways to do things than we intuitively think. 

Whether in a video game or in life, things are usually not as difficult as we make them. We tend to displace our fear and stress towards our challenges. We take the hardest path because it’s the only one that we immediately see. 

More often than not, elbow grease doesn’t get you anywhere far in video games when you’re playing at the hardest difficulty. Using sheer strength and willpower usually sends you right to your grave. 

But if we only think for a moment, it would be a huge game-changer. Video games reward you for playing smart.  

With that, a question I love to ask myself is, “How would this look like if it were easy?”

Beating “The Witcher 3” on Death March difficulty showed me that its impossibly difficult battles can be made much more doable if we know our own gear and abilities well, and if we pay attention to our opponent’s movements and weaknesses.

This mindset has helped me a lot when I was in university, among other things. I’ve always hated memorizing and rote-learning, because they’re too overwhelming and they of course do little in actually helping you understand the material.

So, I would revise by lecturing a presentation to myself, because it helped me verbalize everything in my own understanding. If it’s a technical subject like math, I would explain the rationale for my workings whenever I’m doing practice sets. In the end, the information has stuck with me, even long after the exams have passed.

Another thing that playing video games at the highest difficulty has taught me is to simply have fun. 

Sometimes in video games, challenges can still be pretty difficult even once you’ve figured out how to best take them on — especially if they need quick reflexes on your part. Sometimes, you’d see the words “try again” flashing on your screen for the umpteenth time, and you’d be tempted to throw your controller away.

Whenever I find myself getting stressed at a video game, I’d often break into a laugh. After all, it’s just a game — and it’s ridiculous to get worked up over something trivial. 

I would tell myself, “just have fun”. With this mindset, I’d be in a much better position to try again, to focus on one step at a time, and to just enjoy the game. 

I’d tell myself the same thing whenever I’m overwhelmed with work, or whenever I just don’t feel like writing because I’m reluctant to put in the long hours, or because I’m afraid that it wouldn’t turn out well. After shifting my focus towards simply having a good time and putting in one word after another, I would naturally want to give my very best effort.

Playing a video game at its highest difficulty can be a rewarding experience. As it did for me, it can help you see that many things in life are, as entrepreneur Marie Forleo put it, “figureoutable”. 

On another note, it also trains you to not take life too seriously. Every moment, whether good or bad, has some value in them, and every challenge is another opportunity for you to level up.

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