Can a Computer Game Really Improve Your Life?

Can a Computer Game Really Improve Your Life?

By Angela Atkinson

Have you heard about Mindbloom? It’s a computer game that’s devoted to helping you grow the life you want. I first heard about it when a client asked me to investigate it for a story about an insurance company which had contracted with the game’s creator in order to offer a special version of Mindbloom to its insured members.

Can playing a computer game lead to personal wellness? Mindbloom thinks it’s possible.

The Life Game Mindbloom created gives each player a tree, on which each branch represents a different area in your life, including health, spirituality, relationships, leisure, lifestyle, finances, creativity and career.

As I understand it, you start out with three leaves of your choice and as you progress, you can add additional leaves. The leaves represent your passions, goals and dreams in regard to each “branch” of your life.

As you meet self-set goals for each leaf, you earn seeds, which allow you to continue to grow your tree. Each time you “level up” with new seeds, Mindbloom says you learn “one of the most important life lessons,” that each of us has the “ability to grow the life we want if we take one small step every day.”

The more you achieve in the game, the more “experience” you get in the game–and that experience helps when you connect with friends and family on the game.

 

“It’s important to remember that like life itself, the game is not about the end result, but it’s about the journey,” says Mindbloom’s website.  “Know that your goals, passions, and dreams will continually change and as long as you are taking small steps everyday and having fun, then you’ve already won!”

Does it work?

I believe it could be very useful to someone who is committed to playing regularly. Just about anyone who can read could play the game as it doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge and walks you through each step very clearly. Mindbloom even sends you a daily nudge to remind you to meet your goals for the day.

I think Mindbloom has potential, especially for people who might need help sticking to their personal development goals. It’s fun and easy to play, and though I’ve only got one friend on the game so far, I think playing with more friends and family members might make it even better.

What are people saying?

“I love Mindbloom, and I hope to soon have a full tree with TONS of branches and actions, which will help me get my life and my personal relationships back on track!” ~Angie Marion, A Simple Kinda Life

“My days can get buried in so much busyness that these daily reminders help keep me on track with what’s important to me.  It is the one e-mail I am excited to get each morning.  It’s like having a good friend giving you a little positive poke!” ~Andrea Fellman, Savvy Sassy Moms

“We’ve just skimmed the surface thus far, but already it seems like a great idea for a new kind of social game, paired with a great execution and a nice, clean interface. Here’s hoping it can actually motivate us to lose that extra 15 pounds we’ve been nursing since we graduated college.” ~Kyle Orland, Games Blog

“Mindbloom offers a useful but playful way to set good intentions, stay on top of your commitments, and follow through on your promises. It also helps you identify the parts of your life that need more attention to be paid.” ~Christine Thompson, Musings of a Marketing Maven

So what do you say?

I say give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Mindbloom is free to play and just might be a 21st century way to give your journey to fulfillment the little boost it needs.

Have you played Mindbloom yet? What did you think? If you haven’t tried it, will you? Tell me in the comments!

 

Perfect 10: Make Your Life Better With a Simple Rating System

Perfect 10: Make Your Life Better With a Simple Rating System

strategyWant to make your whole life better, but you’re not where to start?

It all seems simple enough. Focus first on the parts that need attention the most and work your way down, right?

Sounds easy, but what if you aren’t sure how to prioritize the changes you want to make?

If you’re you’re a fan of flowcharts and visual aids, the “perfect 10” strategy might be just what you need to get started on creating the life you want.

Maybe you’ve already tried rating the different areas of your life. And even when the lower-rated areas of your life were improved, maybe they only got as good as a six or a seven at best.

But guess what? You’re not stuck. You can still reach that “perfect 10.” Try these strategies to help you get started.

Analyze Your Approach

When parts of your life get stuck, it might be time to change your approach. Any strategy has a maximum result, and the techniques that draw most people will never get them above a five-to-seven range.

For example, strict adherence to a 10-minutes-a-day exercise program won’t get you to swimsuit model status.

No matter how perfectly the strategy is implemented, your results from that strategy can only take you to a certain level. You must be ever-evolving.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to start fresh.

I hear that professional golfers occasionally get stuck in their progress and completely redesign their swings. For a while, they’re stuck at what they consider to be a two-three level, but frequently they are then able to push through and finally reach a 10 with a new strategy.

Even with a more effective strategy, you might feel that it will take too long to get to a ten from a six. Yes, it can take some time, but the time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well spend it making your life better. You can keep growing, and keep seeing new levels of satisfaction in what you can become.

What is a ten?

You have to define it to find it. The first step is to consider what a ten actually is–what does it look like to you? If you’re talking income, is it $200,000 a year? Is it $1 million a year with less than 20 hours of work a week? You’ll only get where you’re going if you know your destination.

Set goals to move toward that perfect ten.

Now that you know where you’re going, get started on the journey. Be aggressive but smart. As long as you keep moving forward, it’s impossible to fail. You only fail when you stop trying–think of setbacks as a blessing. Now you now what NOT to do to succeed.

Evaluate your progress.

It’s important to take a hard look at the progress you’re making toward that goal. If your path isn’t working, do something else–it’s that simple. Just try a different strategy. Don’t waste your time sticking to something that isn’t giving you the results you need.

And when things are working, keep going.

What Happens When You Reach Your Ten?

When you reach your ten, you’ll realize that your original six was actually a three or a four, based on your new perspective.

Realizing how big a ten really is shows you how much higher you can go as you reach each milestone.

Truth is, you’re far more capable than you may have imagined–and it never ends.

A billionaire, for example, has far more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, but he still feels the need to see if he’s capable of more. Being fixed in one spot is never satisfying for long. The pleasure is in the progress and experience, not in hitting some milestone.

It’s all about evolving–ever-evolving.

Ultimately, the amount of fulfillment you feel can be proportional to the amount of action you’re taking.

So get out there and do as much as you can to meet your goals. A perfect 10 is within your reach.

What “perfect 10” are you working on right now? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!

Men: 10 Ways to Be a Better Male Role Model

Men: 10 Ways to Be a Better Male Role Model

Father and Son

“I make an active effort to remain a positive role model to kids. They need people to show them there’s another way.” ~M.C. Hammer

Throughout your life, you’ve probably looked up to at least a few men you’ve known. Maybe your father had a calm, gentle nature when you both went out fishing. Maybe your 10th grade history teacher made being intelligent look really cool. Whoever they are, the men in your life matter!

Men: wouldn’t you like to be that male role model that boys and young men aspire to be like? The good news is you can!

Use these strategies to become a great role model:

  1. Go after your dreams. Reflect on what you’ve always wanted out of life. Sure, it’s changed over the years. But what is it right now that you want to achieve? The importance of pursuing your passions is a wonderful message to send to younger people.
  2. Show self-confidence. When you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to, you’re said to have confidence. If you’re confident, it’s probably evident to everyone around you. Young boys and teens in particular look up to men who demonstrate an air of “I can do it.”
  3. Hang out with your buddies on a regular basis. When you allow time in your busy schedule to socialize with your friends, you’ll have a more relaxed way of moving in the world.
  4. Have a sense of humor. Usually, boys and young men can relate to each other best when there’s humor and joking around involved. Let that fun side of you come out, especially when you’re around younger people.
  5. Demonstrate a willingness to spend time with kids. Whether they’re your own kids, your nephews, or your friend’s kids, give of your own time to be there for them.
  6. Be open about your work. By nature, kids are curious about what kind of work men do and how that work is accomplished. If a young boy or teen expresses an interest in what you do, share with him about some of the projects you work on.  You might be the only man in that boy’s life who has taken the time to talk just to him about the subjects he’s interested in.
  7. Reach out. Consider spending some time at a local Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or other social agency that works with kids and teens. Even devoting two hours a week of your time can make a dramatic impact on someone’s life.
  8. Do something physically active. The research shows that boys learn best when they’re actively doing something. So, take a boy fishing or running with you. Build a birdhouse together or ask him to help you wash your car. A kid can pick up a lot from taking part in an activity with you.
  9. Give positive feedback. Practice giving simple, positive comments. Any maturing person craves this type of care and attention. Statements like, “Wow, you did a fantastic job catching that fish” or “You’re a pretty good runner” can plant seeds of confidence that will grow stronger over the years in young people.
  10. Avoid macho expressions of physical strength. Although some kids might ooh and ahh if you can bench-press 200 pounds, your role as a male role model is to illustrate that men have all kinds of different talents, skills, and interests. Since most kids have most likely already been exposed to macho stereotypes, find other ways to express yourself to them.

Being a great male role model will bring enormous personal rewards and, sometimes, external accolades.

You’ll feel satisfaction and pride in knowing you’ve contributed in some way to the healthy development of another human being. Put your efforts into becoming the best male role model you can be. Your life and the lives of others will benefit significantly.

Who are the great male role models in your world? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

 

Melinda Gates: Standing Up for What She Believes in the Face of Extreme Criticism

Melinda Gates: Standing Up for What She Believes in the Face of Extreme Criticism

Bill and Melinda Gates during their visit to t...

Before today, I didn’t think too much about Melinda Gates. But today, I learned that Gates has decided to stand up for her beliefs and use her considerable influence help women all over the world, despite the growing criticism against her from her fellow Catholics.

I grew up with a lot of religious people, including many Catholics, and I  know that this is not something to be taken lightly. It takes an incredibly strong person to go against the grain, especially so publicly. I am so impressed that Melinda Gates prioritized her concern for innocent people and understanding of the truth of the situation to overcome any fears she might have felt when it was time to answer to her critics.

The Gates Foundation

If you didn’t know, she’s the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and together, the couple runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation is organized into three primary, focus-specific program areas, including Global Development, Global Health and the United States Program. According to the foundation’s website, it works with a range of partners to help try to solve large-scale problems.

Specifically, the Gates Foundation is targeting extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries and the failures of America’s education system.

But this week, bloggers everywhere are engaged in a written war over Mrs. Gates’ position on birth control.

Religion Vs. Logic

As Catholics everywhere are asked to support a bill that would not force religious organizations to cover birth control for its employees, Gates stood up and said she believes that every woman should have access to birth control.

“I didn’t fully appreciate how much contraceptives changed my life because I never lacked access to them,” she said in an interview with CNN, pointing out that hundreds of millions of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia don’t have access to contraceptives. “The lack of birth control is more than a minor annoyance. It can be a significant barrier to a better life.”

She went on to say that when she learned what women in poor countries faced, she wondered what her own life would have been like if she hadn’t been allowed to use birth control.

Gates says she’s passionate about family planning because she’s learned that women in  developing countries are demanding access to contraceptives; they want the power to determine their futures.

Not only are teen moms more likely to be uneducated and poor, but they’re more likely to have kids who have health problems. Gates points out that women who have been educated are likelier to marry later and more likely to stay in school.

“Simply giving women the means to space the births of their children three years apart would decrease deaths of children 4 and younger by 25%,” she told CNN.

I applaud Gates for standing up for these women and giving them a voice. But even more, I applaud her for doing so in the face of religious discrimination.

The Controversy Rages On

Gates is openly Catholic. And Catholics aren’t supposed to believe in birth control. Heck, I even had to have my third baby at an alternate hospital because I wanted to have a tubal ligation after the birth–and my local Catholic hospital wouldn’t allow my doctor to perform the procedure there.

And so, as you might expect, Gates was attacked for her position.

One die-hard Catholic blogger even went so far as to essentially call Gates a racist.

“Make no mistake: the artful concern expressed by evil women like Melinda Gates about poor third-world mothers and their trials is nothing but a cloak for the push to lower the African birth rate (and that of similar places in the world) until it drops well below replacement level,” wrote the blogger. “Because the only thing more horrifying to the rabid anti-population types like Gates than a world full of people is a world full of brown people.

But Bryan Cones, a blogger at U.S. Catholic, says Gates’ argument is a winning one.

“Even if you agree with the church that artificial means of birth control are immoral, it is indisputable that women in poor countries, along with their children, have better outcomes when they bear fewer children,” Cones writes. “To be effective, natural family planning requires charts, thermometers, and agreement by the couple to refrain from intercourse for as many as 10 days during a woman’s cycle. It is, frankly, a luxury for relatively wealthy people.”

Cones goes on to say that poor women deserve the same opportunities as everyone else, and that whatever moral danger there is in artificial birth control is far outweighed by the positives that it could bring forth for poor women. Ultimately, Cones concludes that this is a moral risk worth taking.

Gates is promoting that program, which will raise billions of dollars to provide birth control for millions of women around the world, at the London Family Summit on Wednesday.

Truth be told, it seems that most Catholics don’t think birth control is such a big deal—but those who do seem to have pretty loud voices. Lucky for women everywhere, so does Melinda Gates.

Where do you stand on this issue? Should birth control be a right afforded to all women? Tell me what you think in the comments section, below.

 

 

You Won’t Get What You Want Until You Want What You Have

You Won’t Get What You Want Until You Want What You Have

 

Gratitude Journal“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
 ~Oprah Winfrey

When you’re feeling down, unloved, unworthy, unhappy–all you’ve got to do is look around you and find things for which to be grateful, and you’ll feel an almost immediate shift in your energy. This will lead to an improved perception, which inevitably leads to more good things in your life. 

We’ve been through this before, but it’s a message that’s worth repeating.

If you ever get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, you know how out of touch you can get with the things that really matter. You might feel like there’s no hope, nothing that could possibly make it “better”–and you might find yourself wondering if you have anything good in your life.

But no matter how bad it gets, you’ve got something to be grateful for–no matter who you are. After all, you woke up this morning–there’s one in the ‘win’ column, right there.

Everyone’s got his or her own unique list of things that bring simple pleasure, feelings of pure joy, or just a sense of comfort each day.

You can be grateful for physical blessings like where you live, the climate you reside in, or even your residence. You might be thankful about certain people being in your life. This may include your kids, your grandma or your best friend.

The most important function of thankfulness is that it allows you to open your heart, mind and soul to goodness, gratitude and light.

So, that all sounds great, but you have no idea where to begin cultivating gratitude? Try these tips.

  • Take five. Allow yourself five minutes each morning to experience thankfulness. Take these moments to simply think about the past day. Say to yourself, “One thing I’m thankful for is___.” Fill in the blank with something you noticed from the last 24 hours. Think on it for a minute or so. Smile about it. Then go on with your morning.
  • Appreciate your world openly. Share your gratitude with others. For example, if you’re chatting on the phone with a friend, you could say something like, “I am so glad that I painted the living room that beautiful light teal color. The sunlight reflects on it so nicely.”
    Another example is, “I went shopping with my sister yesterday and she was so helpful when I wanted to pick out a new dress.” When your verbal acknowledgements to others demonstrate the gratitude you feel, you’ll develop a habit of recognizing what you’re thankful for.
  • Notice the small stuff. Promise yourself you won’t take little things for granted. Because life becomes crowded with people, tasks, and objects, you may feel challenged to notice small bits of wonder in your day. But if you put your mind to it, you’ll be astounded at what you see. 
  • Open your eyes to the wonders all around you. They won’t cost a dime. A sunset, a warm cup of tea, or an ice-cold glass of water when you get home from work can be great reasons to feel gratitude. The smell of honeysuckle as you walk by the vine or your daughter’s impish smiles are still more things that might remind you of your blessings.
  • Learn to turn your thoughts around. When you discover you’re thinking negative thoughts, imagine a big stop sign and say, “Stop” out loud. Then, replace the stop sign with an image of something around you that you’re grateful for right at that moment. Think about that object, experience, person, or situation and bask in your positive experience.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. If you find you’re having difficulty remembering to notice the things that stir your inner thankfulness, perhaps starting a gratitude journal would help. A journal is a tangible visual aid that will trigger you to think about what you’re grateful for. Try just putting put the date on the page and jotting down what you’re grateful for at that time. You can write as much or as little as you wish. Place your journal in a spot where you’ll see it frequently, like on the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or near your favorite chair. This way, you’ll be prompted to experience your gratitude more often.

 Being grateful is truly one of the things that makes life worth living!

Each time you consciously decide to experience your thankfulness, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Open your eyes and mind to the people, places, things, and experiences you’re grateful for. You’ll feel so much better about your life–and feeling better is the first step to truly being better.

What are you grateful for today? Share your gratitude and your thoughts with me in the comments section, below!

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