Friday, June 1, 2018

Life Lessons and Wargaming: Mental Well-being and Happiness

Hey Everyone!  Today I add another article in my ongoing series "Life Lessons and Wargaming".  The point of this article series is to look at the little lessons we learn throughout life and how we can apply these to our Wargaming hobby.  A friend of mine pointed out I had been neglecting the concept of mental Well-being in the series.  If I am honest I have been avoiding the subject for a while as there are a lot of people who suffer from anxiety, depression in our world and I cannot hope to understand what these people go through.  I have loved ones close to me who struggle with these and I have learned, and am still learning, how to sympathize with it.  However, I have never struggled with it from their perspective so I worried I would come off wrong in an article about Mental Well-being.  All that said mental disorders are not the focus of the article.  The focus is on working toward developing your own Well-being and Happiness.

Happiness and Well-being are not the same things, but happiness is a part of well-being.  Generally speaking, Well-being consists of your comfort, happiness, and health be it your body or mind.  The stronger sense of Well-being you have the stronger your foundation is to accept change, handle stress, and much more.  There can be a lot of negativity out there and while some negativity isn't a bad thing it can quickly become bad if it becomes all-consuming.  I am using negativity very broadly and while being critical is essential being too critical turns into negativity as it often does which makes a positive Mental Well-being and essential life tool.

 While knowing you need to be happy in order to develop a strong sense of Well-being is great it takes a lot of training and work.  I cannot simply tell you to be happy and expect it to work as it is not something that can be dictated.  Happiness comes from within oneself and the discipline to follow through on wanting to be happy.  Surrounding yourself with what makes you happy, such as wargaming, is a good start.  However, you need to learn to look at the positive end of what makes you happy even when others might only be seeing the negative.

So right now you might be asking yourself, "How does this connect in with Wargaming"?  Let's look at a topical issue that often repeats itself.  A new edition release of your favorite and/or primary wargame.  The cycle is usually as follow from my experience.  New edition is announced and everyone is excited,  bits and pieces are teased or leaked which causes some people to become more excited or become weary of the changes and those who begin looking at the new edition in a negative light.  As someone who is invested emotionally, monetarily, and time spent I can understand when people get a bit weary due to their high level of investment, but not those who go into negativity.

To have a good Well-being you need to have happiness as discussed earlier.  While you cannot just become happy you can choose to become happy.  Choosing to be happy it training your mind to look at the positive over and over again until it becomes habitual.  Looking at our example of a new edition drop, let us examine a rule preview or leak.  Your first reaction might be a kneejerk one like, "That really hurts my current army!" or "This unbalances other parts of the game!".  While challenging at first try looking at the positive first.  Perhaps your army is due for an update or seeing a specific rule change might mean there is, even more, to come regarding the game as a whole.  You will find, over time, that you're stressing less and less about changes because you are finding happiness and comfort that your game will change over time.

You are developing your Well-being so when something negative does arise you are more likely to work through it as opposed to expressing distaste and never taking any action beyond voicing your dissatisfaction into the aether.  The path to happiness is a choice on a lot of levels, but everyone's road is different.  I find, for myself, that training to look at the positive helps me find happiness in a lot of ways.  Despite my attempt to always focus on the positive, I do fall short here and there as humans are prone to do.

A few months ago I was playing in a one day local Age of Sigmar tournament and had the worst day of gaming I can ever recall having.  My army was being picked apart and my dice were rolling so statistically bad it was disheartening.  I recall not winning a single priority roll that day until round 4 of the final game.  Somewhere around game two, I failed to continue being positive.  I realized, thanks to my good friend I was playing, I was being a terrible opponent.  I had focused in on the negative of my games and let it consume every bit of me.  Halfway through I took a step back and decided that I needed to look at the positive of the day.  I was gaming with good friends, I was playing with and against some lovely armies, and that a few bad games didn't mean much in the long run of things other than I was having a few bad games.

After I choose to look at the positive parts of the day I became happier.  Instead of brooding between rounds I went and cheered on my closest friends who were doing well.  Suddenly my bad games meant nothing to me and the success of my friends meant everything.  The day was turned around and I loved every bit of it when I choose to be happy.  So whether it is in wargaming or other aspects of your life choosing to be happy will actually lead you to be happy.

Happiness is an essential part of Mental Well-being and it is a path you can choose to take.  It won't always be easy, but it will always be worth it.  Living life by looking at the positive doesn't mean you refuse to see the negative, you just refuse to let it affect you and consume you.  I highly encourage you to try this path and when you falter use it as a learning experience.  You don't need to do it alone either as you have plenty of friends around willing to help you find your path.

Until next time, Happy Hobbying.

Chuck Moore