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Welcome, Player One, to a strategy guide for the game known as Life.

 

As you’ve undoubtedly discovered, the game of Life is often quite difficult. You will face unexpected challenges and long periods of frustration. You will often struggle with self-doubt, feel overwhelmed by helplessness and loss, and sometimes take a shit when you’re out of toilet paper.

Yes, Life is hard, as the saying goes.

But fear not, this short guide is designed to help you complete your missions and complete the game at the highest possible level.

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HOW TO WIN AT LIFE

Doc Louis Mike Tyson's Punchout
Don’t worry, Champ, you got this.

The goal of Life is simple: it is to Level Up as much as possible. Each Level in life presents a particular challenge that you must overcome. Once you overcome that challenge, you get to move on to the next Level. The goal is to complete as many levels as possible. At the end of the game, the person at the highest level gets to have the best funeral.

There are five levels in life:

  • Level 1 – Find food; find a bed to sleep in at night
  • Level 2 – Know you’re not going to die
  • Level 3 – Find your people
  • Level 4 – Do something that’s important and valuable to both yourself and others
  • Level 5 – Create a legacy

Level 1 just means you’re not homeless and/or starving. This is a prerequisite for just about everything else. Chances are, if you’re stuck on Level 1, you aren’t even reading this right now.

Level 2 gets a bit more complicated, because a lot of people do have a nice bed to sleep in every night, but they can’t sleep because of gunshots outside or bombs exploding over their city, or maybe Dad’s a drunk and keeps trying to set the house on fire.

None of these things are cool. Level 2 requires that you find a secure and stable home to base yourself out of. Getting past Level 2 requires finding a way to successfully remove yourself from these dangerous situations.

Level 3 means relationships, finding the right people to love and the right people who love you.

This sounds way easier and more fun than it is. Mainly because, as you’ve likely found out by now, most people suck.

Navigating to the ones who don’t is a whole tricky matter that I’ll get to in a bit.

Level 4 means building up some skill or knowledge or ability that adds value to the world around you and also makes you feel like kind of a badass in the process.

Level 5 just means making sure your life mattered when you’re dead. Good luck with that champ.

Most of us get a nice head start due to our parents. If you’re lucky, your parents will have successfully guided you through Levels 1-3 and even give you a nice boost in achieving Level 4.

If your parents took care of you but they were kind of emotional fuck ups, then you’ll have Levels 1 and 2 down pat but be totally on your own for Level 3.

If you were raised by wolves, a) congratulations on figuring out how to read, and b) please refrain from chewing on your mobile device.

THE DESIGN OF LIFE

Life is a big and complex game. It’s the largest open-world game known to date. We all begin with different starting stats and we’re placed into a wide range of environments that can either give us advantages or disadvantages.

But because most people have trouble conceptualizing Life, they therefore assume that they have no control over Life. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Life’s game design is actually surprisingly simple. It is guided by a few basic principles that are designed to give the player an experience of a large amount of randomness.

1. Life is designed to continually throw difficult and unexpected problems at you. Life is a never-ending stream of problems that must be confronted, surmounted, and/or solved. If at any point, Life runs out of problems to give us, then as players, we will unconsciously invent problems for ourselves. Problems are what keep us occupied and give our lives meaning and are, therefore, necessary to conquer Levels 4 and 5 (give value and leave a legacy).

As players, we spend most of our time preparing ourselves for problems that are expected. But it is because of this preparation that, by definition, the most difficult problems we experience in Life will be unexpected.

This steady barrage of unexpected problems gives the player a sense that she lacks control over her own Life, when in fact, the purpose of Life is not to control what happens to you, but rather control and choose higher level reactions to what happens to you.

2. Players may respond to problems with either Solutions or Distractions. All players must meet problems with a reaction (even choosing not to react to a problem, is itself, a reaction).

All reactions can be divided up in two ways: Solutions and Distractions.

Solutions are actions and pursuits that resolve a problem preventing it from continuing or happening again in the future. Distractions are actions or pursuits designed to either make the Player unaware of the problem’s existence or to dull the pain the problem may be causing.

If a Player feels they understand a problem and are capable of handling it, they will pursue a Solution. If players are just sick of Life’s shit, then they will likely pursue Distractions to help them pretend the problem isn’t actually there.

3. The more each Solution or Distraction is used, the easier and more automatic it will be in the future. The more often you use a Solution or Distraction, the easier it will be to use again, to the point where it will eventually become unconscious and automatic. Once a Solution or Distraction is unconscious and automatic, it becomes a Habit.

Habits are necessary because they prevent you from falling back to previous Levels you’ve already conquered. A player, once they’ve found a Solution to a Level, must employ that Solution enough times to make it a Habit, thus mastering that level and allowing them to move on to the next Level.

4. Solutions move us towards the next Level, Distractions keep us on the same Level. Since gaining Levels in Life requires solving problems, distracting ourselves from our problems guarantees that we will become stuck on the same Level.

If our Distractions become Habits, then we will become perpetually stuck at a level and not even be conscious of it. If you’ve ever wondered why all of your relationships have failed miserably in the past decade, then chances are your Distraction-Habits are preventing you from achieving the real intimacy necessary to beat Level 3.

5. The formula for winning at the game of Life is therefore actually incredibly simple:

  • a) correctly identify your Solutions and Distractions
  • b) eliminate the Distractions
  • c) ????
  • d) profit

One simple example: There’s a problem at work and my boss hates me, so I can either pursue a Solution (confront my boss, look to be transferred, work harder, etc.) or I can pursue a Distraction (party every night, smoke crack, masturbate while watching Disney cartoons, etc.).

The more often I choose a Solution, the more it will make choosing subsequent Solutions easier, thus leading to an eventual Level Up. The more often I choose Distraction, the more it will make choosing subsequent Distractions easier, thus making me a deadbeat with a weird sex fetish.

One final note before I teach you how to totally cheat life and get a giant pyramid built for you when you die:

Just because you Level Up doesn’t mean problems stop at previous levels. A bro’s still gotta eat (Level 1). We all need to be safe to accomplish anything (Level 2). Relationships take work (Level 3), yadda, yadda.