Completing our series on getting superbetter — for now!
In the last set of blog posts here, I’ve examined the 7 Gameful Rules of SuperBetter. Applying those rules to any struggle in life can help you develop the resiliency needed to rise up and respond with positive actions to help yourself get, well, SuperBetter.
After devoting a chapter apiece to each of the rules, Jane McGonigal then writes about the importance of keeping score in SuperBetter as the best way to internalize the gameful rules and understand your own playing. I already mentioned one simple measure she suggests, the daily score:
3 Power-Ups + 1 Bad Guy + 1 Quest = Daily Win
Since this is your life you’re playing, you’re going to want to keep close track of your game, and tracking Daily Wins is one of the simplest ways to get started with that. Another way McGonigal suggests to keep score is striving for personal records (or PRs) within your efforts.
For instance: how many power-ups can you activate in 1 hour for your Most Powerful Hour? Others might include Most Epic Battle Day, when you’ve fought and survived the greatest number of attacks from your personal Bad Guys; or Longest Daily Win Streak.
Keeping score also helps you to set goals for behaviors you wish to increase — walking, for instance, for me — so you can measure and see your progress to the larger benefit.
Another way to bolster your score-keeping: ask your allies to help out by awarding points when they see you display one of your signature strengths by telling you or texting you something like, “+5 points for creative response to that challenge.” This leveling up with allies invites them to provide you with the positive feedback so critical to building up your resiliency. Sometimes, it’s easier for an ally to see us objectively than it is for us to see ourselves.
For external measurements, McGonigal provides links to a variety of personal inventory scales at areyougameful.com so you can complete these to measure aspects of your personal resiliency. To get the reader going, she provides a short one in the book, the Gameful Strengths Inventory (GSI), a list of statements to respond to that test how “gameful” you are in responding to challenges. The point here, she says, is not to determine if you are or are not “gameful enough,” but rather give you a benchmark you can return to later to determine your personal improvement in gameful strengths.
Games are better when played with others, so she also describes several social mini-games — timed ways of keeping score with friends, family and allies. Some of these are competitive in nature (First Power-Up of the Day; or Quest Race, racing to complete a list of shared quests) while others emphasize cooperative play (Team Streak — how many days running can at least 2 on your team achieve a Daily Win). Me, I lean to cooperative play, so those look more interesting to me. But part of the beauty of SuperBetter is the complete adaptability to each individual. So if you’re super-competetitive, by all means, get out there and do your best to outdo your friends.
McGonigal also points out that since playing SuperBetter can literally add years to your life, keeping score can help you quantify some of this “bonus time” — which you can (and she says, should) redeem to spend on something that fuels your dreams. For instance, if one hour of playing SuperBetter results in 7 minutes “bonus time” — don’t hesitate to spend that time doing something for someone you love. A week’s play earns 3 hours, so you’ve got 3 hours now to learn something new. Use this to give yourself permission to what matter most to you right now.
Playing SuperBetter and keeping score propel the player towards post-ecstatic or post-traumatic growth, providing a variety of potential positive changes. In short, becoming more gameful can help you feel stronger, closer to loved ones, clearer on your priorities, braver, and greater, with a changed philosophy to your struggles.
Okay, I’ve written plenty about SuperBetter for now. I’m about to fire up the online app to sign up again for more gameful living. Just to give you a quick look at what I’ve got in front of me there:
- Challenge: living healthily to keep my diabetes in check
- Power-ups: my go-to list includes standing up after an hour at a desk, drinking a glass of water, singing loudly, and looking at funny things (the mirror excluded — ha! funny! that’s a power-up right there)
- Bad Guys: my worst is the Late Night Munchie Monster, and his henchman, the Sinister Spoon, but there’s also the Front Door Force Field, where I do not venture out of the house that day
- Allies: so far, I’ve got a couple informally lined up and I’ll be enlisting more soon
- Quests: tend to center around specific lengthier walks, especially to complete errands nearby; or writing, like this blog
- Epic Win: walk to SXSWedu here in a couple of weeks.
Oh, and that Secret Identity thing? Well, okay — but by reading this next bit, you agree to keep that secret. I told you before about playing before as Redwing Dreamseeker during my 2012 shoulder surgery rehab. Well, a new round warrants a new secret identity, so I set out to find a new secret identity to capture my strengths and my goals.
“Alien” was actually my first nickname, bestowed on me by my older brother due to similarity to Alan. He might’ve thought he was picking on me, but I loved it and adopted it whole-heartedly. For my secret identity, it refers to a signature strength of mine: the ability to look at anything from an outsider’s viewpoint. I’ve always found this helpful in distancing myself from the downward tugs of over-involvement and emotional overreaction.
Walker was definitely going to be part of the name to emphasize that aspect of playing the game, and I had settled on Longwalker, as a nod to my overall goal of walking more and more places, despite distances. Then I heard the word “Cloudwalker” used to describe a shaman moving upon the earth to reach spiritual understanding. Wish I could find the meme that made me choose it, but no matter.
Meet Alien Cloudwalker.
See ya on the road to getting superbetter!