How to Turn Trials into Upgrades

Our natural reaction to trials or difficult circumstances is to shrink back and embrace self-pity, pain, hurt or aggravation. But that's what the world expects of us because it's what it has taught us to do. What if, instead of shirking from a difficult situation, we leveraged that situation as a hero's journey. A means to a physical, emotional, spiritual or mental upgrade.

When you play video games, you are tasked with quests to recover the hidden gem, overcome the enemy stronghold or diffuse the bomb before time runs out. Each quest pushes you beyond your present limits, requiring that you evolve into a better version of yourself if you are to succeed. In video games, we live for the quests. We live for the challenge because we're anxious to level up.

We thrive on the upgrade.

...except in video games we re-spawn when we die. And we can log out if we're upset. In video games second chances are infinite and consequences exist only in that digital world... I get it. But imagine for a second if you were able to gamify your life — every trial became a quest and every lesson learned, a treasure trove. It won't dull the pain but it might show you the silver lining.

The trials of manual labor return physical upgrades in the form of strength and flexibility. The trials of death or suffering return spiritual upgrades in your reliance on Christ as the source of your joy and peace. The trials of job loss return mental upgrades in your ability to network and hustle. And the trials of heartbreak return emotional upgrades in healing and emotional maturation.

Pain cannot be escaped so why not reframed? Why can't we look for ways to become the 2.0 versions of ourselves by becoming more aware of our trails and capitalize on their upgrading potential? If we can level up online, we can level up in life.

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.
— Walter Anderson

If you like the concept of the gamification of life, you'll enjoy this TED Talk by Seth Priebatsch. "In this far-seeing talk, Seth Priebatsch shows how game dynamics are reshaping the world — from a classroom where students "level up" instead of being graded ,to a pervasive game called "happy hour" that you may already be playing. Get ready to meet the "game layer," a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce."