What if there was a happiness game you could play, an easy-peasy one, where you’re always the winner? And what if you played it with friends and they ended up winners along with you? What if the prizes were things like increased zest and resilience? What if it helped you to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficult real-life obstacles? Would you want to play?
A friend of mine told me about such a game last week. And even though I’m not a big game fan, I took a look at it just to see what it was all about. I turned out that in order to understand it, I had to sign up. So I did. And I went through the first group of awfully simple tasks in just a few minutes. “Is that all there is to it?” I asked myself. Yes. It was that quick and simple.
That night I dreamed that I found a bar of Zest soap in my shower and after lathering myself with it, emerged feeling wonderfully fresh and eager to start my day. Since then, I opened the novel I’ve procrastinated about finishing and have written an entire new chapter. I approached other tasks, dreaded but necessary ones, with a brand new attitude and actually enjoyed doing them.
It’s called SuperBetter, and here’s how it works. It presents you with quests to accomplish. Simple things, like choosing your secret identity. You get to select which quests you want do. It presents you with things called Power-Ups, easy things like drinking a glass of water or looking out your window for a minute or going for a walk around the block. You get to name Bad Guys, the obstacles that stand in your way, and to invite Allies (friends or family members) to join in and support you. You earn points. You get cheered on. Every aspect of it is designed to help you take better care of you.
That’s because it was designed by a gamer who needed a life-line when she was in the darkest period of her life. She was having such a hard time recovering from a concussion that she was considering suicide. She invented the game to help her stay alive. And not only did it do that, it helped her become better in every way than she was before she was injured.
Since the game has been online (You can play on your phone or tablet, too.), a study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that “using SuperBetter for 30 days significantly reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety; and increased life satisfaction, social support, and the belief in one’s ability to succeed and achieve goals.”
That’s a lot from one quick, simple game! But my first week of experiencing it was enough to convince me and keep me playing.
With the holidays quickly approaching, I figure we can all use a little extra zest and energy in our lives. You can begin playing right away here: SuperBetter.com.
PS Here’s a TedTalk about the game by its creator: The Game that Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life
Or read the inventor Jane McGonigal’s book about her personal story and the science behind SuperBetter here.