The examples of other people show that there are no hopeless situations, and difficulties can become a magical kick towards the Best version of yourself. Of the three books, they chose cool stories about change. Get inspired!
Doors of Opportunity
All people are divided into two types: those who are looking for opportunities, and those who are looking for excuses. I recently got a message from a girl named Anya, who was left alone during the crisis with a $60,000 mortgage. But she persevered and even lives happily ever after.
“Hello Larisa! My name is Anna. A year ago, my financial stability collapsed in an instant. I was among the “lucky ones” – currency mortgages . I allowed myself to cry, scream, roll on the floor, swear, throw things, but … only three days. And that’s it! In three days I have to take a piece of paper, a calculator and go … debit – credit – balance.
The main task is to stay alive and not lose your mind. It was this difficult time that changed the vector of my movement. Ideas began to appear in my head, projects that I am currently working on, and at this stage I just get pleasure and energy from this. During this time I learned a lot and understood a lot. No, I’m not saying that starving, counting every penny and being afraid of losing your job, no matter how exhausting, is cool. Only, whatever one may say, it turns out that “a decisive step forward is the result of a good kick from behind.”
Anya wrote that, fortunately, she had and has a stable job, but thanks to the crisis, she opened a new direction in her life: “I paid, Larisa, paid regularly, no matter what. Now my debt is $25,000. And it’s cool! You will laugh now, but when I ran out of all my skin care products, I started washing my face with oatmeal and oil. Do peels with lemon and salt. And then I mastered the facial gymnastics course and even became a facial gymnastics trainer! Can you imagine? I’m waiting for the certificate! In general, every day I have so many things to do besides work that I have absolutely no time to monitor the dollar.
The summary is this: of course, sometimes “akhtung” happens – and it’s sad, and unpleasant, and blah blah blah.
But we always have a choice of how to respond to it. Either cry and blame someone, or look at the problems from the other side.
The Beatles in Hamburg
Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – arrived in the US in February 1964, initiating the “British Invasion” of the American music scene and producing a string of hits that changed the sound of popular music.
But what happened before America? One important episode. In 1960, when they were still an unknown rock band, they were invited to Germany, to Hamburg.
“There were no rock and roll clubs in Hamburg in those days,” wrote the group’s historian, Philipp Norman. — There was one club owner named Bruno, who had the idea to invite various rock bands. The scheme was the same for everyone. Long speeches without pauses. Crowds of people roam back and forth, and musicians must play incessantly to attract the attention of the public. Here’s what Lennon had to say about it.
“We got better and more confident. It could not be otherwise, because we had to play all night long. The fact that we played for foreigners was very helpful. To reach them, we had to try our best, put our heart and soul into the music.
In Liverpool, we played for an hour at best, and even then we played only hits, the same ones at each performance. In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours in a row, so whether you like it or not, you had to try.”
From 1960 to the end of 1962, the Beatles visited Hamburg five times. On their first visit, they worked 106 evenings of five or more hours per evening. In the second visit, they played 92 times. The third – 48 times, having spent a total of 172 hours on stage. On their last two visits, in November and December 1962, they performed for another 90 hours. Thus, in just a year and a half they played 270 evenings. By the time the first big success awaited them, they had already given about 1200 live concerts. Do you have any idea how incredible this number is? Most of today’s bands do not give so many concerts during their entire existence.
The harsh school of Hamburg – that’s what distinguished the Beatles from all the others.
“They left without representing anything, and returned in great shape,” writes Norman. “They have learned more than endurance. They had to learn a huge number of songs – cover versions of all the works that exist, rock and roll and even jazz. Before Hamburg, they did not know what discipline was on stage. But when they returned, they played in a style unlike any other. It was their own find.
I hope this story inspired you as much as it did me. If so, then you will definitely have your own Hamburg.
The Power of Games
In the summer of 2009, I got a concussion. The recovery was delayed, and even a month later I was still tormented by constant headaches, nausea and dizziness. I couldn’t read or write for more than a few minutes. Memory failed. Most of the time I felt so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed. My head was in a fog. I had never experienced anything like this before, and this state frightened and depressed me.
I could not explain to friends and family what exactly was happening to me. At some point, I decided to describe my feelings. With great difficulty I chose the words, and this is what I got:
My thoughts are clenched with an iron fist. My brain is under pressure.
If I can’t think, then who am I?
The doctors said that it would take a few months, and possibly a year or more, to feel better, and advised her to avoid anything that triggered the symptoms. That meant no reading, no writing, no running, no video games, no work, no email, no alcohol, no caffeine. I even joked: “In other words, there is no meaning to life.”
One day something happened. I had a crystal clear thought that changed everything. 34 days after my injury – I will never forget this moment – I said to myself: either I will kill myself or turn life into a game. Why into the game? By that time, that is, in 2009, I had already studied the psychology of games for 10 years. In fact, I became the first person in the world to receive a Ph.D. for studying the psychological qualities of players and the role of these qualities in solving real problems. Through years of research at UC Berkeley, I knew that gamers are more creative, goal-oriented, and problem solvers. And more often turn to others for help.
I wanted to turn these features to my advantage. So I created a simple game called “Jane the Concussion Slayer”, which aims to recover from an injury. The game had to come up with a secret identity, find allies, fight the “bad guys” and use power-ups. Jane became my secret identity, making me feel like a hero, determined, not desperate.
The first thing I did as a “concussion killer” was call my twin sister Kelly (author of the bestselling book Willpower) and say, “I play to heal my brain, and I ask you to participate with me.” I easily asked for help, and Kelly became my first ally in the game. Then my husband Kiyash joined us . Together we found the “bad guys” and fought them. The “bad guys” were anything that could trigger concussion symptoms and, as a result, slow down the healing process, such as bright lights and noisy places. We also collected and used bonuses. And that’s all I could do, even on the worst days, to feel a little better, happier or stronger. My favorite bonuses are five minutes of playing with our Scottish Shepherd, eating walnuts (good for the brain), and two walks around the house with my husband.
Despite the simplicity of the game, after a couple of days the fog in my head dissipated. Depression and anxiety subsided. For me it was a miracle. The game has not been a miracle cure for headaches or cognitive symptoms. I experienced them for more than a year, and that year was the hardest in my life. But I no longer suffer. I felt that my fate was in my hands. I started treating myself like a strong person. Those close to me understood how to help and support me.
What happened next shocked me. A few months later, I posted a short video on my blog explaining the rules of the game. Not everyone is familiar with the symptoms of a concussion, and not everyone wants to be their exterminator. So I renamed the game to SuperBetter . Why? After the injury, everyone hoped that soon I would “get better”. But I didn’t want things to be the way they used to be.
I wanted to be a superhero: happier and healthier than before my injury.
Soon I began to receive the first messages from people from all over the world. They invent their own secret identities, seek allies and fight the “bad guys”. They became superheroes in the fight against depression and fears, post-operative and chronic pain, migraines and Crohn’s disease. They managed to cure a sick heart and find a job after many years of failure. SuperBetter was played by people with serious, sometimes fatal diagnoses, such as terminal cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. From their messages and videos, I understood that the game helped them in the same way as it helped me. The players assured that they felt stronger and more courageous, better find a common language with friends and relatives. They became happier, despite the pain and the most difficult period in their lives.
And I thought, “What’s going on? How can a seemingly banal game have such a big impact on vital circumstances?” To be honest, without having tried it on myself, I would never have believed in its capabilities. After recovering, I immersed myself in the study of scientific literature. That’s what I understood. Some people become stronger and happier after an injury. This is exactly what happened to us. Play has helped us experience what scientists call post-traumatic growth. We rarely come across this term in everyday life. We often come across the concept of post – traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a condition with symptoms of depression and anxiety that can occur in a person who has witnessed or participated in a serious or tragic event. But research has shown that traumatic events, struggles with extremely difficult life circumstances often help people reach and fulfill their potential, and their lives become much fuller.