Playing Well: No Stress Losing

This is part of a series on how to play games well: Stoicly and enjoyably. Not to triumph, but to have fun.

How to deal with failure? Everyone loses, but not always well.

One easy strategy is to realize that the past has already happened. It can’t be changed; period. Nor can the present really. You can control what will happen a nanosecond from now, but not what is happening this moment.

The past of a minute ago is as much a part of the historical record and unchangeable as “before you were born.” And no one sits around worrying about stuff that happened then. You just accept it as your time-inheritance.

So what’s the point in worrying about something you have no control over? Use the past to inform your future behavior, but don’t cry over spilt milk.

Don’t sit there depressed about what you’ve gotten yourself into. Just concentrate on how you’re going to dig yourself out or how you’ll do things differently next time.

In the same spirit, if someone just screwed you over, don’t stress about it to the point of ruling out cooperation in the future. Not that you should forget what happened, but dwelling on it will cause you to miss opportunities for collaboration.

One useful exercise is to imagine that you just walked into the room and took over a spot for someone that left. Then ask yourself, “Now what?” Because that’s what you do every second: take over from a younger, handsomer you.

Ideally this way of thinking about the past will make you happier. You can live in the moment and not stress about the foolish mistakes of you-from-two-minutes-ago. Though hopefully you can learn from them.