Make it a Game That You Can Win

Are you the type of person who has things always seeming to go your way? Or, are you the type of person who is constantly coming in last, with nothing working in your favour, and the world is out to get you?

It might not be that black and white but my point is: we don't just have luck, we make it.

Make it a game that you can win

If you related more to the first suggestion, you are probably fairly optimistic, positive and grateful for what you have in your life. You see the opportunities all around you and you actively take advantage of them. 

If you related more to the second example, you are probably making life too hard for yourself. The world isn't out to get you - your mindset is!

We each view the world through our own unique filters and paradigms. If you are running negative programming in your head, you're going to get negative results. The great news is, you can change your thoughts and feelings and therefore your results! (But you already knew that - avid reader of my blog ;) ).

Let me explain.

My boyfriend and I adopted a puppy a few months ago. Holy moly, I was not expecting all the responsibility that came along with all the cuteness. Sure, I expected the walking, feeding and pooping, but there was also veterinarians, allergies (both hers and mine), insurance, food, and training to consider.

In decided to keep Layla after discovering my allergies, I've learned a lot about my own health. I've had to experiment to find out how to cure my allergies (or at least make them bearable) and it's come down to food and gut health and regular visits to the Naturopathic doctor - a blessing in disguise. I've started to make the changes I couldn't get myself to do for years. But that's for another post...

We decided to do our own positive "clicker training" at home with Layla. I'm all about positive mindsets, so when we found a book called "The Power of Positive Dog Training" I was all in.

In this book, the author describes how positive dog training works and gives many tips for training different behaviours. The idea is that you reinforce good behaviours with rewards and you take away rewards or good things when they exhibit unwanted behaviours - sort of like their privilege to look out the window. Dogs (just like us) want to make good things happen. So, when they want to jump up to greet you and get attention, you simply turn your back to them thus taking away the attention and they quickly get the idea that sitting is a better way to get your attention and affection.

I started this book while I was still on the ice coaching skaters in the spring and I found myself giving them many more verbal "yes" cues when they did what I wanted. I really wanted to click... something to experiment with next season!

The inspiration for this particular post came from something the author said; when training a new behaviour, make it a game your dog can win. Don't try to trick your dog or expect too much because they will get frustrated, bored or just walk away. Instead, gradually increase the criteria they are expected to reach for the desired behaviour you are training.

For example, when training "stay", don't just say it then walk to the other side of the room! Practice staying still in sit position, then practice it for a few seconds, then a few more seconds, then maybe you back up one step, then maybe a few more steps - but as soon as she follows you, you've gone too far and start the process over. The goal is for you to make it a game your dog can win - giving her many rewards and treats along the way - this is much more fun for both of you!

This got me thinking on how it applies to us. We put unrealistic expectations on ourselves ALL THE TIME and get frustrated and switch directions when it doesn't work out. SEE, I'M NOT A MILLIONAIRE YET AND I STARTED MY BUSINESS LAST YEAR. Well, you have to be a 500,000-aire before that and a 100-000-aire before that and a penniless person with drive and an idea before that.

We skip steps and expect ourselves to keep up.

Focus on the next realistic stretch in front of you, not the end result when doing something new.

Make it a game that you can win.

The fact is, if you are hitting little milestones, and celebrating because you "won the game", it feels good. And you'll want to do more of it. And you'll build momentum. Until pretty soon, you're not half bad at it!

Likewise, if you are always putting unrealistic expectations on yourself, you will constantly be disappointed. It will seem as the world is out to get you and chances are slim that you'll enjoy or even carry on with that new skill. It will be a struggle.

Take yoga, for example. The instructors always say "let go of comparing yourself to others in the room" - but I know you still do it! At least, you will if you are not focused on yourself and your body. Instead of comparing your pose to the other yogis in the room, especially the beautiful ones with the nice tan and tatoos, notice what the pose feels like in your body. Compare it to what it felt like last time. Just notice.

I went to a yoga class with a friend.

What I noticed during the class: it was abnormally hot in the room, my friend was dying of the heat, my body felt so good to be stretched out, my poses were a little smaller than last time since I hadn't been in a few weeks, I love yoga, and this is a pretty hard class because of the heat.

What she noticed: it is too frickin' hot in here - dangerous even, holy sh*t - Jessica has a crazy Pigeon pose, no improvement from last week, it's way too hot in here, I can't do this.

Not a big shock that I enjoyed the class much more than she did.

I used to compare myself to others in the class, push myself to stretch at least as far as the "hard-cores" in the room, and feel embarrassed when I wasn't able to do a pose in the basic position. But who was that serving? I was doing it with bad technique, likely to injure myself, and my mind was loud with criticism and judgement, which ultimately just made me feel bad about myself.

Focusing on the positive, focusing on my body and what the poses feel like, really noticing how each pose feels and which muscles are engaged, and how it feels different from last week - suddenly gave me a whole new practice. It's not about them. It's about me. I noticed improvements each week and pretty soon I was working towards poses that were never in my repertoire. I focused on the next step in front of me, not the 20th step down the road.

So whatever you are doing - cooking, speaking up at work, yoga, training your pooch... make it a game you can win - or, at least, take it upon yourself to change the rules so that you always do.