This article was originally published on Medium here.
I’ll come out and say it. Yes, Candy Crush is fun.
There’s something ridiculously satisfying about connecting a string of orange jelly beans or blasting a ball of sprinkles. Getting to the next level after being stuck for weeks — level 70, we’re calling you out — is a momentous celebration.
It might be the only thing in your life you feel you succeed in, but here’s a better idea.
Have you ever had that fleeting thought that there’s more to life than Candy Crush? (or Solitaire, or Mahjong, or fill-in-your-time-wasting-game).
Or that fleeting thought that the one-game-turned-into-100-games might be sucking out the time you could spend crushing your goals?
…that the time spent wasting lives on Candy Crush is wasting your real life?
It’s time to take a new look at Candy Crush — and your life.
How Candy Crush and Video Games Fill a Void
Look, you aren’t alone.
Candy Crush reached one trillion game plays late in 2016. That’s a lot of downloads.
Maybe you started playing under the influence of friends and family who got you into playing Candy Crush.
Maybe you were just looking for something to play for a few minutes to set aside the stress of your daily life.
Maybe it’s not even Candy Crush. Any game can be very addicting, especially when you feel the satisfaction of winning and moving to the next level.
Games on social media, tablets, computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices can take your most valuable resource: time. For some, the damage can be even greater. These addictions can turn into brain drains, hijacking your capacity for creativity and compassion.
It’s easier to disconnect from real-life experiences and jump into a virtual world, but that doesn’t serve any purpose.
The reality is, Candy Crush and other distractions are taking you even further from the purpose of your life, as they pull the wool over your eyes and allow you to flee from anything that might be challenging you — and stunting your long-term, life-changing growth.
People allow these distractions to fill a need. Whether it’s the need for success, the need for achievement, or any other emotional need, you’re giving these time-wasters permission to become the focus of your life.
Do you really want Candy Crush to be your life story?
Missed Connections: The Problem With Technology
People feel a need to constantly stay connected with technology.
If you spend time at any public place, you see nearly every person speaking on or using their smartphone. You may find that it’s easier to identify individuals who don’t have a device in their hands! Candy Crush can be one cause, but it’s certainly not the only reason people focus on their selfies instead of their true selves.
Social media provides one of the largest distractions. While each person has his or her own reason for creating an account, staying connected to long-distance family and friends can quickly turn into hours of mindless scrolling.
Becoming totally engrossed in a mobile device might also stem from work and a lack of a work-life balance. People who carry phones for work feel obligated to regularly check their email without a break, no matter if it’s day or night — putting their family and friends aside and their careers first.
There are many wonderful, practical uses of technology, but to be honest, it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing on your phone if you find it becoming a permanent attachment to your hand. The end result of spending so much time is the same: you’re losing time you could be spending creating your life story.
Disconnect and Live Your Life
The next time you’re about to open the app, I want you to stop for a minute.
Look around. Are your children playing, hoping you’ll also spend time with them? Are you in a park? Is a friend or family member sitting nearby? Is there something else, anything else, you could be doing instead?
Life is lived outside of your screen. Hiding behind technology keeps you from two things:
- You’re missing out of all the positive moments in your life that will not only shape your future but the future of your loved ones. Instead of helping your children write a future life story about the love and attention you gave them, they’ll tell the story of emotionally disconnected parents who were plugged into their electronics. Allowing your life to pass you by can lead to regret, sadness, and stronger feelings of despair the aging process.
- You’re avoiding finding true healing from life’s difficulties. It can be much easier to focus on anything but the trauma you’ve experienced, but healing will never come from a screen.
Each moment you spend playing is a moment you could be dedicating to true, lasting emotional, spiritual, and physical healing.
Did you know that spending even 10 minutes a day freewriting about your life can lead to healing and finding your higher calling?
The first step is really the only step you need to take if you want to not just live your life, but discover your true purpose by writing your story.
Delete the apps and pick up old-fashioned communication favorites: paper and a writing utensil. Turn off your phone and turn on your brain.
Take the effort, energy, and creativity you spent on your electronic device and channel them into a new pursuit, one that has the ability to change your life and the lives of everyone around you — writing your life story.
Turn Your Energy to Writing
You may have felt successful in your gaming or scrolling, but that’s not the only area of your life where you are successful.
People can get the same feeling from the things they know best, and no one will be more successful than you in the subject you know best — your life story!
Once you recognize that avoiding the deep questions in life is doing you no good, it’s time to start writing.
Just pick up a pen or pencil along with a journal and get your thoughts out on paper. You don’t have to think about grammar, just write.
Not sure where to start?
You’re not alone. Since these time-wasters gave you a good feeling, swap that out for writing that will also give you a good feeling. Make a list of the positive things in your life. Write about an experience that makes you smile. Pick a moment of your day that you never want to forget and write about the details. Describe a happy time in your childhood.
The good thing about freewriting is that there’s no right or wrong. Nothing you write will be incorrect in freewriting. Let the words tumble out, connecting with each other, filling the pages of your journal.
You might find in the process that situations arise, pushing you toward unpleasant experiences that you tried to avoid by diving into the time-waster.
Don’t run and hide.
Treat these like the positive experience, writing your way through the emotions and hardships. In doing so, you’ll find healing, which brings a new kind of peace and tranquility.
Tips to Connect to Your Life Story
1) Embrace healthy distraction
The time-wasters you left behind were a form of life distraction but produced little fruit in your life.
Writing, on the other hand, is a healthy, constructive way to break the electronics addiction while helping you to bloom and become the person you were truly meant to be.
If you find your mind is wandering when writing, you have two options:
— Follow the train of thought, knowing that you’re changing subjects while being aware that a new component of your life story might arise; or
— Refocus on the subject-at-hand, bringing yourself back and honing in on the original subject.
2) Tune in to yourself
No one knows your life story better than you.
Allow yourself to delve into your soul, uncovering deep emotions or experiences that manifest in your daily life.
If a situation feels too hard to completely uncover in one writing session, give yourself permission to write your way into and through the experience over a period of time.
Set a recurring timer to help remind you to stay on task. A bell or beep every five minutes to alert you. When you hear the sound, if you are distracted, it helps bring you back on task.
3) Set goals
Give yourself a daily goal.
Start with a time goal; in that case, set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and write until you’re finished. If a timer isn’t your thing, consider a page goal; give yourself a set number of pages and write until you’ve filled them.
Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to go back to your old time-wasters, even for “just one game.” Think of your long-term goals: discovering and writing your life story. How will those apps help you further your goals?
4) Find a familiar space for consistency
Establish a consistent location to gather your thoughts and write on a regular basis.
Even keeping a consistent location to write notes, ideas and reminders on your desk are useful, since the organization helps you go back and review them later to incorporate them into your story.
You might also find benefit to occasional environment changes. The shift in scenery can be a powerful tool to refocus, clear your mind, and keep yourself away from your devices.
5) Turn off and minimize distractions
Candy Crush, mobile games, smartphones, your television, and any other distraction — turn them off. Do whatever you can to minimize distractions when you are trying to write.
6) Determine the best time of day to write
Figure out what the best time of day is for you to write. Early in the morning is best for some; for others, late at night is ideal. Finding the perfect time to write lets you become more productive and gets you closer to your end goal.
7) Block time to write regularly
Schedule time to write daily. In doing so, you’ll maintain the momentum while working toward completing your life story.
8) Be inspired by the world around you
Jot down inspirations for your life story as you come across them. You may be inspired by a memory, by someone you met or by the environment you are in. Stay aware and in tune with these opportunities. Keep a journal or notebook with you to make notes throughout your day.
9) Less stress is best for life story writing
Worrying about the perfect copy or your final destination when it comes to writing may consume your efforts. Avoid stressing yourself out the details. Your initial goal is to simply get your story out on paper. It’s going to be really ugly at first — but just get it out. You can review, edit, organize and rewrite later. What you need to do now is to just write.
10) Invite another writer to support you
Sometimes it is helpful to have the support of a peer when you are writing. Invite another writer to join you as you work on your life story. You can provide each other with valuable feedback and also help to keep one another on task as you write.
11) Reward yourself as you progress
When you reach your small goals (and large ones later on), reward yourself for your accomplishment. Incentivizing your progress pushes you to continually complete your tasks and reach goals.
Discover Your Life Story
Giving up Candy Crush, social apps, and other time-wasters can open your eyes to a new perspective.
You start to recognize that playing games addressed the boredom and emptiness that you felt. Those empty moments, you discover, are part of your life story, too.
This unpixelated view of the future shows you that there are endless opportunities to write a new life story.
You get to decide who you are, who you want to be, what you will do and what you want to have — you just need to make the conscious decision to begin to live your life and write your story.
Telling your life story is one of the most rewarding accomplishments you will have in your life. Need help? Here’s how you can discover your life story.