As a parent, I thought that playing games with my kids was a great idea. I was right. We formed connections and bonds, very important for growth and development. They learned cognitive skills and social skills. Gracious winning and losing. Turn taking. Patience. Laughter. Etc. Surprisingly, there was an added bonus to playing games with my kids: I learned lessons, too.
Both my daughter and my son enjoy playing board games, but I’ll use my son as an example here because of a specific game. The kid has been obsessed with Monopoly since he was in preschool. I’m not kidding. Never mind Chutes and Ladders; he preferred Monopoly. We have close to a dozen different versions of the same game. Once, he came down the stairs with a game for us to play and proudly announced that he picked a game we hadn’t played in a long time. Relief washed over me. Something other than Monopoly! His “different” game turned out to be Wild Animalopoly. So basically Monopoly with animals.
This brings me to my first lesson:
CHOOSE WHAT YOU FOCUS ON
Monopoly again! I could easily bemoan that. I could insist that we play something else. I could roll my eyes and play half-heartedly (wouldn’t that be a great attitude to model to my kid?).
Instead, I could focus on the fact that I play with my kids. We enjoy time together. And my son, who is now thirteen years old, a teenager, still wants to play Monopoly with me.
I might be exacerbated by the game, but I’m so grateful that I get to play it with my child. And that is what I choose to focus on.
LIFE IS WHAT YOU INVEST (YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT IN)
To get specific to the game itself, for anyone not familiar with it, it’s a business game. The object is to buy up property, build it up, get rich from it, and force everyone else to go broke. Okay, the last part is a bit cutthroat, but it is what it is.
I have never won a game of Monopoly (well, other than one time, long before I had kids, when I decided to see if I could cheat and get away with it. I did, and I won, and part of me still thinks it’s funny but part of me is ashamed of myself). Side lesson: Don’t cheat to win. It’s not the same thing as earning a win.
Even when my kid was little, I didn’t win. I modified the rules a little for him because he was, like three, but within those modifications, we stuck to the rules and he won.
I can be a bit dense when it comes to certain things, and only recently did I figure out why he’s so shrewd in this game. I tend to be really conservative with my money. When I get some, I keep it. He, on the other hand, gets money and turns it around to invest it in stuff. His money dwindles for a while, and I think “Ha! Finally! I’ve got him.” But his investments pay off, and I quickly lose the little I have when I land on his developments.
Such is life. We get out of it what we put into it. When we have a goal, the best thing to do is go for it. Invest in it. Devote your time, your energy, and your heart to it. If it requires a financial investment, invest what you reasonably can. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, because our goals are personal. What matters is that you believe in your goal and in yourself. Do what my son does: put resources into your dream. Your resources might temporarily dwindle, but your heart, soul, and effort will help them expand exponentially.
SPREAD YOUR ASSETS, BUT NOT TOO THIN
Watching my son play Monopoly is fascinating. He has a strategy. He has certain properties he tries to buy (and if I beat him to it, he adjusts his plan). He concentrates on two groups. Not one, because he can’t make enough money on one group. He needs to develop two. But not three. Because that spreads himself unnecessarily thin.
To be cliché (which I hate), when we are going for a goal, we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. We need multiple ways to approach what we’re doing and build up our efforts. But we do need to approach our dreams in multiple ways. Find different ways to reach out to people (online or in person) – networking is powerful. What other things can you develop that are similar to what you’re doing to diversify a bit?
LIFE IS GOOD WHEN YOU PLAY IT LIKE A GAME
Is life easy? No. Is it always fun? No. We can’t change those things, but we can choose our attitude about life. Life is about being with the people we love, whether they’re family or friends or coworkers or whomever. Life should be playful, at least some of the time. Life is about learning and growing and bonding and enjoying. Life is about having and pursuing dreams and passions and goals. Life isn’t about winning or losing. It’s winning and losing, and it’s love – which is always winning.