How You Played “The Sims” Says A Lot About You

Remember playing “The Sims”?

What a game that was.

You got to build your very own characters and live their lives etc.

It was an insanely popular game and as a kid I’d talk about it with friends who also played it.

Years later, I still keep in touch with these friends and made an interesting observation about them.

The way they played “The Sims” says a lot about who they are today.

And this kind of makes sense. After all, by creating Sims you’re projecting your own life on to these characters.

I’ll talk about my two close friends Jane and John who played the game a certain way and how their style gave a lot of signs about their interests and future occupations.

Jane the Architect

How Jane would play “The Sims” always amused me.

The moment she started playing she’d put in cheat codes to get as much money as she wanted so that she could put it to good use to built the most aesthetically pleasing house possible.

She’d be very detailed in how she designed the house and had a knack for designing a chic interior.

Jane would love to build these houses.

And once she’d finish her house – she was done.

She didn’t care about being the puppeteer to her own Sim-minions. She didn’t want to play the actual game.

“The Sims”, for her, was just about building houses. That was it.

As a young teenager, this is how she’d play the game.

Many years later, she enrolled at university as a student in Architecture and finished her degree three years after that.

John the Psychologist

John, on the other hand, didn’t really care about houses.

In fact, he wanted to start with as little as possible, so that he could work his way up and build the house of his dreams.

His very first house in “The Sims” was basically a square which had only the most essential things – a fridge, a few beds, a shower, and a toilet (there wasn’t enough room for the toilet to go inside so it was placed outside, against a single wall).

The interesting thing about John was that he’d choose to play with as many “Sims” as possible (I think at the time you could have a max. of 6 people in your family).

Not only did he love building relationships within the family, but also enjoyed building relationships with other Sims.

He was always fascinated about the dynamics and interactions between these people.

But also, he enjoyed the ‘rags to riches’ journey and investing in oneself to maximize their potential in all areas of life – social life, career, love, you name it.

And once he reached the top, he simply stopped playing altogether.

Years later, things clicked for me about John.

In real life, John was always social and built strong meaningful relationships with many people over the years that I’ve known him for.

Always caring and a great listener, he was always considerate of other people and I can imagine this was why he was so liked and popular with many.

Though he had many friends, a lot of these friends were very different from each other and hailed from different walks of life. He managed to get along with a wide range of people.

John actually went on to study Psychology at university which is quite curious when we piece all of these things together.

Is “The Sims” a sophisticated personality test?

Growing up as a teenager, you don’t know who you are or who you want to become.

It’s natural to feel a bit lost as a teenager because you’re just trying to figure things out.

It’s funny how some of those answers for Jane and John were hidden in the way they played “The Sims.”

After all, the Sims is a proto-life.

A projection of your current values and life as you know it onto these proto-characters.

So maybe The Sims is one big personality test.

By playing The Sims you will learn interesting things about yourself that you’ll only be able to make sense of in hindsight. 

Only over time have I managed to meaningfully connect these dots about some of my closest friends. And this makes sense, especially when we consider Steve Jobs’ words:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
– Steve Jobs

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You Were Born to Create

I was reading a book by Hugh MacLeod called Ignore Everybody over the weekend and loved how the words resonated with me, how they spoke to me, and even struck a chord in me.

So much genuine, honest, unfiltered, unrefined hard-earned wisdom and advice from a man that was passionate about one thing and that was drawing (doodling rather) on the back of business cards. At some point in his journey, he started a fantastic blog.

And then he was an overnight success.

Except it wasn’t an overnight success. It was only an overnight success to those that suddenly heard of his creative craft out of the blue, for the very first time. Overnight successes don’t happen overnight. You can read more about that here.

A cartoonist at heart, Hugh was drawing on the back of business cards for the better part of 20 years. But it was the authenticity in his blog writing that helped him build an empire.

The blog got popular and now he’s making a living of both his writing and drawing.

The Pissed Off Gene

In his book, MacLeod writes about the Pissed Off Gene. Here’s Hugh on what that is exactly:

“Back in our early caveman days, being pissed off made us more likely to get off our butts, get out of the cave and into the tundra hunting woolly mammoth, so we’d have something to eat for supper.

It’s a survival mechanism. Damn useful then, damn useful now.

It’s this same Pissed Off Gene that makes us want to create anything in the first place – drawing, violin sonatas, meat packing companies, Web sites.

This same gene drove us to discover how to make a fire, the wheel, the bow and arrow, indoor plumbing, the personal computer, the list is endless.”

-Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody

 

Tap into your Pissed Off Gene

In all of us, there is this deep-seated desire to create something and to leave your own mark on the world.

And there’s no point in being afraid of social pressures. Don’t be afraid of being judged, of people criticising you.

Because whatever that comes from you and comes from within will be the most genuine and authentic thing.

That’s why people gravitate to people like Muhammed Ali, Connor McGregor, or the art of Pablo Picasso.

Sure, Ali and McGregor have been and are polarizing figures, whilst van Gogh’s paintings may have been discovered only after his death but all of these guys have at least one thing in common.

They were true to themselves.

They were authentic in what they did.

McGregor is 100% authentic in how he carries himself and Ali stood for something that was bigger than him.

Both men had and have an aura about them a style in what they did.

You have a unique voice.

How you find this voice is a different matter.

How can I tap into my Pissed Off Gene?

A lot of your life is played out automatically.

Routines, habits.

That’s a good thing cause you don’t have to analyse and think consciously about everything you do, every second of every day.

It saves mental energy.

But because a lot of our lives are habitual, driven by our unconscious mind, certain things manifest themselves in our everyday lives, in everything that we do.

Notice the commonalities.

Do you tend to paint? Do you tend to write? Do you tend to play an instrument?

Even when you look back on your life, through the various phases of your life, you can spot some recurring themes.

You may be constantly changing, evolving, but maybe there are a few themes that constantly reappear.

Listen to these clues.

Devote some focus to those themes.

Your life is telling you something.

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Technology to Blame for Lack of Deep Connection?

It’s interesting to hear that technology is to blame on the inability of people to form deep meaningful relationships.

In a Western society, people tend to complain that social relationships are superficial, only concerned with surface phenomena.

And some might like to blame technology for this disconnect in human relationships.

After all, technology in the western world is increasingly becoming woven into the social fabric of our everyday lives.

Though technology may be at fault in some part, I think the fault lies at the given society’s culture.

Because individualist cultures always placed emphasised on the unit and not the collective.

Studies show that American children (i.e. individualist culture) take turns to play with a toy whereas Russian children (i.e. collectivist culture) share the toy with their siblings of friends.

And this attitude stems from the teachings of our mothers.

So this deep-rooted inability to connect, I think, is down to the individualist vs collectivist culture conundrum, at least in part.

And technology only exacerbates this problem.

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Growing With the Seasons

Life is lived in phases and your personality shifts with the seasons.

During the Spring and Summer seasons, you might find that you go out more and socialise more often, or that you exercise a lot more, and that you travel quite a bit.

During the Autumn and Winter months, you might notice that you tend to read more and immerse yourself in other, more introverted activities.

The changing seasons bring out different aspects of your personality and it would be wise to appreciate and honour these changes.

Now that we’re in the thick of Autumn, many people may be going into monk mode or nerd mode, delving into more introverted activities.

And that’s absolutely fine, in fact I’m going through something similar myself.

Think of Autumn and Winter as a time where you gather energy for the future Spring and Summer months where you will expend this energy.

And with the blossoming of trees with the beginning of spring, you too will blossom.

Here’s a video by Elliot Hulse that captures this idea:

Periods of immersion and periods of maintenance

As your personality and energy level shift through the seasons, you’ll also be alternating between periods of immersion and periods of maintenance.

In the Summer, you’ll be expending energy on outdoor-type activities such as exercise, social gatherings, travelling. It’s likely that these areas of life will be the areas you’ll be devoting significant attention to, that you’ll be immersed in. This is a period of immersion.

With total immersion to focus on your own tangible goals comes a certain short term sacrifice. After all, you’re investing your time and attention and focus into one area while decreasing all of the above in a different area.

The way I see it though is that if you invest your time into, say, travel, you’re raising your value so that when you’re in the mood to start partying and hanging out with friends, you’ll have a suitcase full of memories and stories to tell.

On the flip side, activities like reading may be put on hold, and though you might not be reading consistently, you won’t totally give it up and will maintain that area of life every now and then.  This is a period of maintenance.

Whatever season it may be or whatever phase of life you may be in, enjoy the phase you are currently going through.

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Patience is Overrated

Patience is a virtue, they say.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been patient (for the most part) and even prided myself on being so (especially in the presence of people that clearly didn’t have it in them to be patient).

But this isn’t my way of tooting my own horn and/or bashing those who’d rather spend their time on anything else other than waiting.

It’s just that time and again I run into scenarios that suggest that patience doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Having been on both ends of the service industry at some point in my life, I realised that customer is god and the service provider is the unlucky S.O.B who has been sentenced to a lifetime of pleasing angry people and catering to their each and every whim.

And you know what?

If you were to build a totem pole that would illustrate how service providers treat customers, the impatient lot would be at the top and the poor patient guys would be at the very, very bottom.

Why?

Because patient people give you breathing room; impatient people prove suffocating and compel you to act fast in their favour.

Imagine the scenes if every customer was an impatient customer?

I see visions of total anarchy. Broken windows. Looting.

In all seriousness, I feel like people take patient people for granted.

Because patient individuals are easier to control, they’re predictable, it’s plain sailing when they require any customer service.

And it’s true:

The saying “squeaky wheel gets the oil” trumps the other saying of “the nail that stands out, gets pounded out.”

Because I’ve noticed, time and time again, that the squeaky wheel does – in fact – get the oil.

The squeaky wheel won’t have to wait 4-5 days for their X-ray report to return to their GP but instead will receive it the next day.

The squeaky wheel that keeps calling/emailing but isn’t receiving the right answers will not only get priority/preferential treatment, but will probably get a better deal than they originally bargained for in the first place to compensate.

The squeaky wheel will get priority in whatever they demand because the worst thing that can happen to a business is to be responsible for a dissatisfied customer.

So does it really pay to be patient?

For argument’s sake, let’s say that most people are patient.

What this means is that being impatient will be rewarded with special treatment which will only go on to reinforce this sort of behaviour, leading to more future impatience (because hey, it’s more worthwhile that way), and so the cycle continues, on and on, forever and ever and ever…

Rather than condone people for their impatience, it’s being rewarded.

***

Any thoughts, comments, criticisms?

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Why Recycling Isn’t Good for the Environment

Remember what Mr Miyagi said about balance?

Mr. Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Mr. Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

The Karate Kid (1984)

Life is all about balance.

Perfect balance is what you find in the exact middle of the spectrum, in between one extreme and another.

Between work and play.

Homeostasis.

This lesson about balance can inform us why recycling might not be the best solution to our environmental woes.

Is recycling actually a bad idea?

The environmentalist will say that recycling is good for the environment. You reuse resources such as paper and that means that less trees will get cut down.

On the other hand, the office that hasn’t gone green and isn’t recycling is wasting resources.

S. Landsberg says that if you recycle too much paper, trees won’t get chopped down, and forests will shrink.

“Environmentalists can quote reams of statistics on the importance of trees and then jump to the conclusion that recycling paper is a good idea. But the opposite conclusion makes equal sense. I am sure that if we found a way to recycle beef, the population of cattle would go down, not up. If you want ranchers to keep a lot of cattle, you should eat a lot of beef. Recycling paper eliminates the incentive for paper companies to plant more trees and can cause forests to shrink. If you want large forests, your best strategy might be to use paper as wastefully as possible-or lobby for subsidies to the logging industry.” 

Following the logic of the above statement, if everybody was an environmentalist, we’d all go green and that would be a problem.

Conversely, if everybody wasted paper, that would also be a problem.

It looks like there has to be a balance between recycling paper and wasting paper.

In actuality, the ongoing tension between environmentalists and anti-environmentalists is wherein the nugget of wisdom lies.

Paper conservers are the yin to the yang of paper wasters.

Without either side passionately fighting for their ideology – there would be no balance.

What pesticides can teach us about balance

Turns out that pesticides can have harmful effects on our health.

But if we were to stop using pesticides on fruit, for example, then there’d be less fruit for people to eat which would also be bad for our health.

Landsberg credits this observation to biologist Bruce Ames:

“Environmentalists call on us to ban carcinogenic pesticides. They choose to overlook the consequence that when pesticides are banned, fruits and vegetables become more expensive, people eat fewer of them, and cancer rate consequently rise.”

You have to strike a fine balance between using pesticides and refraining from using them.

If you’re really bothered about pesticides on food, going organic is a great option. No point cutting corners on the food you eat to fuel your most precious asset – your body.

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Habits Built Are Not Habits Lost

Over and over and over again I find that consistency, a little and often, goes a long long way.

Whatever project you might have going on at the moment – whether it’s a passion project or working on your fitness – just keep at it a little and often.

There will be doubts along the way (i.e. this might not work, this is sh!t, what’s the point, I not seeing any immediate returns/success) but doing something consistently will ALWAYS yield great results over time.

ALWAYS.

And just having faith in that conclusion is what should carry you to achieving it in the end.

Doing something consistently is the reward in of itself

Framing the fact that you’re able to do something consistently is the reward in of itself.

That a huge part of your overall success.

Essentially, that is success.

If you don’t see results in the short-term, keep at it and you’ll reach that point where a sudden influx of results will start coming your way.

Reference experiences

If you managed to go to the gym 3x a week, every week, for 3months in a row, you’ve got a reference experience to back up your routine-building abilities.

But say you were to be suddenly sidelined due to injury, you’d be confident in yourself to be able to easily slip back into your gym routine once fully recovered simply because you’ve done it before and you’d be able to do it again.

It’s only when you don’t have this sort of reference experience to instil that sort of confidence that you run into self-doubt and uncertainty.

You might be thinking how do I know that if I put in the effort, I will definitely gain a reward later?

Well, in the very beginning you simply don’t – you can’t because you have no previous experience that would substantiate this idea that ‘consistency yields good results’. There is no evidence.

But as you accumulate experiences and make habits, these habits will be a testament to you’re ability of building new habits and sustaining them.

Habit memory

So even if you’ve built a good habit but for some reason or another you’ve dropped off – you stopped going to the gym or stopped cycling or stopped flossing – you’ll have the confidence in yourself to be able to get back on in because you’ve done it before.

A habit built is not a habit lost.

Because you have the reference experience, there’s a lot of confidence that stems from that, confidence in the fact that you could easily fall right back into the habit.

This is what you could refer to as habit memory.

Similar to muscle memory (i.e. your muscles getting used to certain exercises), your body remembers your habits and repetitive behaviours.

Because the more you do something, the more automatic the process/behaviour becomes and you don’t have to consciously think about it when you’re doing it.

It becomes a habit.

Discipline is the bridge between a ‘want’ and a ‘have’ and habits are the vehicle which will allow for sustained growth and consistent progress.

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