The Game of Life board

Lessons Learned from The Game of Life


My family has recently really gotten into board games. It has been so fun and unexpected! For the longest time, our games have been sitting idle in our cabinet. However, one day board games became the main attraction with The Game of Life as one of our current favorites.

I feel a bit of nostalgia seeing my kids get excited about this game. I remember feeling the same way when I was younger. We didn’t own this game but one of my best friends did and it always felt like a big deal when we played it at her house. In the game, you move your car-shaped game piece around a board that is full of milestones and situations. I remember how my mind churned on all the  possibilities for education, career, houses, and families.

When The Game of Life is Not Kind to You

Recently, I witnessed my daughter, Harper, get super frustrated while we played The Game of Life. Try and try as she did, luck was not on her side. She had great strategy but it seemed like every time she spun she would end up with some sort of penalty or otherwise disappointing results. Before too long, she was mopey, noticeably irritated and even talked about how the game wasn’t fun anymore.

The rest of us couldn’t help but chuckle because it truly was the unluckiest round we’d witnessed. But then, there was a realization that washed over me – oh my gosh, this is exactly like how real life can be. 

You can approach life strategically, thoughtfully, and do all the right things and yet you can still feel like you end up with the short end of the stick. Cars break down. Medical diagnosis happens. Home repairs are needed. You don’t get selected for the promotion. Damaged relationships wreck you during the holidays. 

Instead of feeling like life is an enjoyable experience you feel like you are spinning and spinning with chronically disappointing results. And you may also get irritated, end up mopey, and feel like the “game” of life is just not fun anymore.

You could give into the negativity, and slip into a downward spiral of frustration. Or, you could stay the course. 

What’s going wrong today could quickly turn and start going right tomorrow. You could hold onto the belief that even in the tough parts and the hard situations you are learning something that will someday bless you and others – even if that feels impossible right now. You can keep pushing forward, not in false positivity, but with resolve that this “game” will eventually settle out and be on your side.

We urged Harper to keep going. To not give up. And wouldn’t you know, she won! Even though when she was in the thick of it, it felt like a losing game. Harper came out on top.

No wonder they call it The Game of Life

Wow. No wonder they call it The Game of Life. It really did mirror and illustrate what some of us feel and experience. As I write these words, the day before Thanksgiving, we have a family member unexpectedly hospitalized with a serious illness. We also are awaiting x-ray results for another family member. Our holiday plans have partially fallen through. We could be irritated, frustrated, or wallow in how “un-fun” it is right now. 

Or we can….

Choose gratitude that our family member made it to the hospital and is receiving care. We can be thankful we have access to healthcare diagnostics and will soon have a clear answers. Our family can be thankful for flexibility and the opportunity to come up with a backup plan. We can choose an attitude of gratitude, no matter what life throws our way.

How Will You Approach The Game of Life?

So what will you choose? When the game of life has you spinning your wheels, will you stay the course? Will you maintain the belief that in the end it is going to be okay, even if today doesn’t feel the best? I sincerely hope you will. I also hope that if you find yourself slipping into spiral of discouragement and frustration that you will reach out to your support system to help you navigate your challenges.

While you are developing your resolve, I also encourage you to take out a good ol’ fashioned board game and spend time in a place of simplicity and nostalgia. And who knows what that game may teach you along the way….

What do you think? (leave a comment!)

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