Your life is lived within what you believe is the state of play. You believe there are rules, best practices, “proper” ways to play the game of life. You believe this because other people believe it. The ability to believe in collective ideas is key to us working together as a species. If everyone had a unique state of play, they couldn’t interact with each other. This doesn’t mean you should live exactly like other people, expanding your state of play is good.
Everything you believe is a constraint on your state of play. Luckily, nearly everyone faces the same “society” level constraints like culture, laws, and behaviours. Within these constraints, people are still living with radically different states of play. There is more room to play than you realize.
The room to play comes from exploration. It comes from learning about others’ states of play and comparing them to your own. You should care about your state of play because you might be missing out on an enjoyable way of living. Luckily for you, this is the greatest time ever for expanding your state of play.
How The Internet Expands The State of Play
The internet expanded the state of play more than any invention ever. We are all connected now and can see how others are living. People communicate their state of play on the internet. They show you what they are up to. Social media is the performance of your state of play for other people.
More people than ever are writing, making videos, sharing photos, and showcasing their lives. They travel to weird places, complete weird challenges, buy weird things, share weird ideas, and discover novel experiences. A personal favourite example of mine is people listing “things you are allowed to do” (one, two, three, four). They make you realize there are many things you could be doing, but aren’t. The largest possible state of play is bigger than you realize.
A mention of someone’s state of play can expand your state of play. You can learn that someone has done something and suddenly you believe and become interested in doing the same. This might cause you to pick up a new skill, meet a new friend, work a new job, or experience something different. When everyone is connected, the extreme state of plays stands out. Even if you don’t copy an extreme state of play, it still expands yours.
Finding Your Ideal State of Play
You want to find the state of play that works best for you, the combination of limitations allows you to live your best life. This requires constant exploration and trade-offs. You must learn what the states of play are, your enjoyment of them, and their benefits or downsides. To discover the right state of play, you must expand and experiment.
It is like trying on clothes. There are certain types of clothes that look good on you, but you don’t know without searching for them. First, it requires taking inspiration from other people to discover potential styles. Next, you try different styles and fits to find the ideal one. Finally, you realize that it takes time to grow comfortable in the style.
There is no right answer to creating an ideal state of play. It is a combination of copying what works for other people and adapting it. It requires experiments. Experiments expand the state of play and allow you to find what works for you. You don’t want to climb up the wrong hill, so you should explore many hills before picking one to climb.
Once you have explored enough, you can choose your own constraints on your state of play. Having a constrained state of play isn’t a bad thing. Most of the world’s most successful and impactful people have a constrained state of play. It’s also known as focus. When you want to focus on something, you must constrain your state of play. You’ll be less successful at winning games if you are trying to win many of them at once.
There are times in life when you want to expand your state of play and there are others when you want to constrain it. To find the ideal constraints, you have to expand and explore many. Exploration is fun, you should do it more. The potential state of play is larger than you realize, you just aren’t looking.
Thanks to Edvardo Archer from Foster for the feedback.
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