What We Can Learn About Happiness from Video Games and Athletes

Any gamer out there has experienced a game that is just challenging enough, but not impossible, to make you play as hard as you can to win.  Many games allow you to earn rewards, such as powerups or in sports games the ability to buy better players.  In some of these sports games your goal is to build the best team you can with the best players you can get as a result from winning games.  It may take playing 100 football games to get the points to purchase these players.  Along the way this is very exiting and the hours put into building this team go by fast thinking about how amazing it will be to have the best possible team once you get enough points.

What is interesting is that once you finally get all the best players you hoped to have you suddenly are not interested in playing the game anymore.  The whole pursuit of getting the best players was the actual excitement, but once you have them the game is too easy and not a challenge anymore.  Surprisingly it is no longer fun to play the game, and so you go to the video game store and buy a new game where you will start at the bottom and repeat the process.

Real Life

Oddly real life is not all that different.  Many of us work hard to earn money to buy the things we think we need to be happy.  We think one day if I only make enough money life will be easy and I will be happy.  The problem is, if any of us get to that point, it might be so easy that we become bored.  More alarming, is if all the money in the world does not make us happy, what can we possibly achieve that will?

Life Events

Throughout life there are opportunities for real rewards just like those you got from video games.  It was a great accomplishment to finally finish and graduate high school.  If you went to college, graduation there too was a big deal.  If you played sports anytime you won a game you felt this same feeling.  The problem is when you start working you only have your paycheck every 2 weeks to celebrate.  But most of us do not celebrate it, as we expect it to arrive consistently as it has for many for many years.  There is nothing new or exciting.  So we only think if the check became much larger would we feel happiness.  Maybe we should really make a celebration everytime the check comes.  It doesn’t mean we need to go out and spend money, but we can be grateful for the check arriving and think about all the hard work we put in to get it.

Retired Athletes

You may have noticed how many athletes have a hard time facing retirement from their careers.  Many hang on much longer than they should only to then go on to coach, commentate, or anything else they can do to stay relevant in the sport.  For their lives, they equated happiness with their sports achievements.  Once this is no longer available, it is scary to wonder if they can be happy again.

We also know about the great pressure athletes are under in their sport.  I believe one of the main reasons for this is their success in victories has always given them happiness, but the higher up they move in the competitive levels the harder it is to keep winning.  If they suddenly cannot win as often, they may feel they cannot be as happy as they once were with frequent victories.  It could even become a burden feeling the pressure to win for the fear of not being able to be happy if they were to lose.

Simple Inhibitors to Happiness

You may be perfectly happy enjoying your day and feeling good about decisions you have made in your life.  Then you see someone that has more money than you.  It doesn’t matter if its a neighbor, colleague, someone on Tv or the internet.

Even if you are happy with your earnings and it allows you to lead the lifestyle you want, sometimes you might wonder am I not taking advantage of the opportunity to be rich and successful.

This is a hard on to wrestle with.  There are some people that are extremely lucky and end up wealthy without much work or sacrifice, but most that are had to trade away a lot of their time for it.

So the next time you get down this line of thinking, remember all the things you do have and enjoy doing.  To make the big bucks you would have to give most of that up.  Exchanging more of the time you currently enjoy for more money. you do not need.

Instead be thankful for the time and money you do have.  Most of us can’t have large amounts of both.  When in doubt choose time.


We can see that it is impossible to keep winning forever.  Even the greatest athletes in the world will someday be too old to beat the new competitors.  Whether this happens at a young or old age the result is the same, one must discover who they are and what makes them happy from within. Happiness is not something that has to be fought over and won.  It is something that everyone can have and comes in so many different forms.  The challenge is finding out what happiness means to you.

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