A game is defined as a set of actions or behaviors that has a goal, rules, feedback system, and voluntary participation. Exercising five times a week is a voluntary obstacle. Restraining from candy bars and vodka tonics while out with friends is a voluntary challenge. Not eating butter or bacon is a voluntary buy-in. No one is forcing you to participate in a training program and following a set of guidelines is voluntary. In fact, it is the linchpin that holds it all together.
When you focus your energy on completing these actions (however perfectly or imperfectly) by setting a goal (say completing five workouts a week), following the rules (eat healthfully), participating in the feedback system (sharing your progress), and fully recognizing that you are engaged in this voluntarily you create within yourself a positive sense of your capabilities and a rejuvenating rush of activity.
This happens on an intellectual level, but also a physical one.
That rush of hormones after an exercise, while connecting with others, or when you achieve a longer-term goal is intoxicating! Unlike other intoxicants, it is also totally free, the supply almost endless.
Completing a great week of fitness is hard work, and week after week, it’s grinding! But when you bring a 'gameful' attitude, it becomes challenging, but sustainable work. And you are in control.
Nothing is sustainable if it’s not voluntary or enjoyable. Autotelic is a fancy scientific word to describe the motivation of a committed person.
In other words, your activities have to be self-motivated and self-rewarding in themselves.
Some psychologists call this intense sense of optimistic engagement that we get from work as the greatest form of happiness available to human beings. When things get hard (and they always do), reframe the challenge as an opportunity to fully engage your attention, your goal being to get better at something hard.
Nothing could be more human than that.
By: Cece Aiello // Kenzai Trainer & Member