Life’s a game, so some say. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. One day has you checkmating your way to success and another sends you straight to jail, not passing go and without your two hundred dollars. But what’s it all about really? How in the great scheme of things do we know if we’re winning at life?
Nearly every game has a win condition to determine a winner. It may be that having the most points determines the winner. Or getting to the end first. More complex games might have multiple ways to win – and there’s nothing more complex than the twisty tapestry of life in the twenty first century.
High Scores and Bulging Bank Accounts
So, is the measure of success in life to be determined by material gains? Given modern life, it can certainly be tempting to think so. We are constantly inundated with adverts and offers that suggest that if we just have this thing, or that item, or a few more zero’s in the bank account, then happiness will be ours.
But just how much is enough? John D Rockefeller, wealthiest man at the dawn of the 20th Century, was reported to have said “Just a little more” to this very question. And if one of the richest man on earth couldn’t have enough dollars, maybe money really can’t buy happiness.
A Lasting Legacy
The other great truth about money is you can’t take it with you when you go. Small wonder so many wealthy individuals choose to become philanthropists out of a desire to leave something behind when they pass on. The desire to leave a legacy isn’t limited to the hugely wealthy. Many people devote their entire lives to their work, hoping that their works might enjoy some small measure of immortality after they’ve gone.
A more modest proposal might be to devote one's efforts to a cause greater than themselves. Charities, conservation efforts and social movements all come about because generous people were prepared to put the needs of others before their own.
Love and Family
For many people, the most obvious cause to put above themselves is the well being of their family. In many ways it is both harder and easier for younger generations to get ahead in life and the wisdom and experience (not to mention the money) of the elder generation become an invaluable resource for those setting out.
Setting up the next generation only ever seems to get more challenging. Despite a proliferation of ways to meet other people, many of us are more lonely than ever before and raising children only continues to get more and more expensive.
At heart the big problem with trying to assign a win condition to life is that, like with any game, it expects the following of rules. But it doesn’t take an online diploma in psychology to realise that everyone plays by their own rules. Perhaps, in the great scheme of things, all that matters is that when we reflect on the time we had at the end of our lives, we can know that we were happy.
What do you think?