Thursday, October 5, 2017

It could be worse

Too much garbage in your face? Broken TV? Both? It could be worse.
No matter how poor or sick you are, no matter what choices you’ve made, remember that it could always be worse.
“... in the astronaut business, we have a saying, which is: there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.” ~Chris Hadfield, from his 2014 TED Talk.
That’s not just in space either.
Nobody knows your situation. Nobody knows what you’re up against. Not even you. You’ve only got a partial picture. Life doesn’t give you perfect information. Maybe you’re about to win second prize in a beauty contest, collect $10, and get picked for a reality show.
You might feel bad, and that might make you angry. Maybe even angry enough to do something extreme. Breathe. Remember. It could be worse, but it’s not.
For example, you’re not currently being attacked by a tiger, probed by aliens, or accidentally running for office. The funnier the better. It helps break the pattern.
By switching to gratitude, even for something tiny, you can overcome the anger, because you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time. And there’s always something to be grateful for: It could always be worse. And right now it’s not.
Maybe the turkey’s a little dry. Maybe it’s a free ride when you’ve already paid. Maybe you don’t feel like you matter.
Anger might feel appropriate. Nobody knows your situation. Nobody can tell you what to feel. And frankly, you could always make it worse, but that won’t help.
Make it better instead. A glimmer of goofy gratitude is somewhere to start.
You matter more than you know. Happy thanksgiving.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cooperative Games

Most games are competitive. You win by defeating your opponents.
In individual games, like Chess or Poker, when someone wins, others lose.

In team games like Bridge or Baseball, you win or lose as a team.

In other games, like Pandemic (where players work together to cure global diseases) or Mole Rats in Space, there is only one team. The players work together to win or lose together. The only way a competitive player can win is if all the players win together.

It changes the incentives. Suddenly, everyone wants other players to succeed, not fail.

In games, you win by achieving the object of the game. Whether your object is to bankrupt the other property owners, checkmate the opposing king, or solve the problem together, the players will work towards that end.

As international competition gives way to freer trade and globalization, cooperative games give us a window into practicing helping everyone achieve their goals, without compromising our own.

Imagine how it would change climate change negotiations if the negotiators have practiced achieving enough for all, rather than playing for high scores.
We hone our competitive instincts by competing. Perhaps we can get better at cooperating under globalization whether it’s helping Mole Rats in Space make it to their escape pod, or running World Climate, a simplified Climate Negotiations Meeting from Climate Interactive.

We get better at the things we practice. With Cooperative games, we can practice working together which could help us approach approach global civilization the same way.