What I learned playing a card game

What I learnedIn our frantic and fast-paced world – yes, even now with the virus all around us – many of us cling to the idea that we know what we did, we know how to do it, we’re gonna do it that way forever because … well, because.

I know there’s a certain beauty and comfort in doing things the way we’ve always done them, but what if those ways don’t work anymore or not as well as they did?

What if there’s a better way we’re not even willing to consider?

Of course, some things do need to be done in a certain order, or nothing will work out right.

We can’t unload the groceries in the house if we don’t get them inside the house first.

We can’t drive the car anywhere if it stays in Park or Neutral.

We can’t have our home-brewed morning coffee if we don’t turn the machine on first … and boy, am I familiar with that!

And we rarely will have a different outcome by doing what we’ve always done!

I suddenly thought of all that as I played a solitaire game online called Scarab this morning, which is definitely a tough one. Users generally only win about 15% of the time. I’ve stayed consistently in the 75% range.

How?

  1. I don’t give up easily. The game allows for redoing moves, so I often start over, trying to do something different. If I moved a card to a spot that I could have moved another card, I move the other card. Why not? the goal of playing is to win, right? And as long as the rules allow me to redo moves, why wouldn’t I?
  2. I let it go for a while. I walk away, do other (more important) things, and then when I come back to it, I often I see something I missed earlier. Fresh eyes and all that.
  3. I don’t focus only on one suit. If hearts aren’t going to work, maybe clubs or spades will. I can always come back to hearts.

My point is this: If something doesn’t work the way I hoped it would, I may need to adjust some part of my process.

So how does this play out in real life … for me, anyway?

Right now (May 2020), many grocery stores are allowing those of us who are seniors (over 60 – and when did 60 define old age?) to shop early in the morning to avoid crowds. I like the idea of fewer people there, but somehow going at 6 a.m. hasn’t been very appealing.

So for a couple of recent grocery runs, I stuck to my guns and went at noon, and bam! Loads of others there too, many not wearing a mask, and fewer choices than I expected for meats and other items I went to buy.

Of course, I couldn’t be sure, but I figured that if my way wasn’t working, maybe I should try the new one. So yesterday at 6:15 a.m. (thank goodness it’s light out then) off I went. Maybe 20 folks there. More meat to choose from. The yogurt I like was available in my favorite flavor (Key Lime). No TP, but I have more than enough anyway. And nearly everyone was wearing a mask!

Now, will that be true EVERY time at 6 a.m.? I have no idea, but I’m glad I at least made the effort. My bottom line was simple: If I’m going out of the village these days, I need to give myself the best chance to win.

What have you changed in your routines that has made a difference in your life? Is it something you can carry forward to other parts of your life as it unfolds?