“Life must be lived as play” —Plato

Work is not play, and life is not a game. There are real consequences. There are real stakes. I can’t afford to play with my life …

How you frame things plays a major role in how you feel. When I talk about playing or play all day, I’m not asking you to quit your job to follow your passion. What I am saying is to look at life as a game to be played, a puzzle to be solved. Whether you like it or not, people are playing the game all around you. Some are playing with more skill and some with less. There are rules that if broken, end the game for us, but outside of that, everything else can be played through.

So if life is a game, how can we maximize our skill and ability to play? Below are a few ways to shift your mindset so you can play life to the fullest:

1. Pay attention

Each stage and level of your life is like a new level of a game. You need to pick up new skills and abilities to get to the next level. The best way to pick up those skills is to pay attention. It starts with learning the rules of the game on level one and then mastering the different rules and skills for each new level. Watch how others play the game. Notice what is successful and what isn’t at each level.

2. Channel Sherlock Holmes

Be clever. As you pay attention to what is going on at each level, put on your Sherlock Holmes cap and think of creative ways to pass each level. Instead of using brute force or waiting for the game to advance you to the next level, take some creative risks. You might discover hidden levels and unknown ways to speed through many levels at once.

3. Unlock hidden levels

If you have ever played Super Mario or Mario Kart, you know there are secret paths and secret levels. To unlock these paths or levels, you need to take a risk. You need to be willing to put yourself out there with the risk of failing. You can take the path of steadily leveling up, but if you want to win and win big, sometimes it means going for the hidden level. The best part about seeking the hidden levels in life is that when someone discovers a hidden world or a secret level, they tend to share it so others can find it too.

4. Level up

To level up, you have to be growing and building skills. Figure out what skills you need to get to the next level and lock in. Some levels will be easy, and some will be hard. Each level is there to give you a skill you need for the next level.

5. Keep playing

The only way to get good at a game (and at life) is to keep playing the game. If you are reading this article, you still have life left to play. If you are stuck on a level, keep showing up and repeat steps 1 and 2. Pay attention, observe other people to see if you are missing something, and be clever. If you are struggling to pass a level, try something new. You might unlock a skill that will open up a whole new world. Whatever you do, don’t stop playing. If all else fails …

6. Change the game

If you don’t like the game you are playing, change the game. Life offers many different games to be played. You can choose where you play the game. You can choose who you play the game with. You can even decide what role you want to play in the game. If something isn’t working for you, feel free to change it up. The beauty of playing games is that you can always go back to the game you used to play. Who knows, you might even pick up some skills or tools from a new game that will unlock your ability in the old game.

For one week, treat your life like a video game. Try to understand the levels, the players and how to level up. Seek out hidden levels and worlds. Then at the end of the week, if you realize you don’t really like the game you are playing, spend the next week exploring what other games are out there.

“If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” —Dr. Seuss

Photo credit: Ivanko80, Shutterstock