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SuperBetter: Setting My 3:1

I really wish I had paid better attention when this thought was introduced at the beginning of SuperBetter, but the general idea is that you think up three things that you really love; things that can be experienced in quick succession.  And then whenever you encounter your “bad guy” (oh… you have a goal when you set up SuperBetter.  I chose anxiety because… yeah… I’m a worrier), you do those three things in quick succession.

For instance, let’s say that I’m starting to worry, and my brain is traveling really far away from the problem into chest-tightening what if territory.  I stop for a moment and acknowledge this is happening.  Then I do my three things.  And the idea is that after getting the good feelings from doing those three things, I can return to whatever I was doing beforehand and hopefully feel calmer.

Choosing my three things was really hard.  I wanted them to be quick because I don’t have a lot of free time in the day, and if I ended up losing 15 minutes of work time, I was going to become even more anxious.  I also wanted them to be portable because I don’t just get anxious at home.  Oh, and I didn’t want it to involve food (because that would just be a new disorder waiting to happen), money (because I shouldn’t need to spend it to feel happy), or exercise (because I’m lazy.  And I already workout every morning.  And I’m not dedicating one more second of my day to exercise).

I decided my first thing would be to listen to five minutes of a Dungeons and Dragon game.  I’m following two games at the moment.  People record their campaigns and then put them online.  So I would listen to five minutes of one of the two Dungeons and Dragons games.

My second thing would be a chess task.  A chess task is like a chess puzzle.  The board is set, and you have to figure out how to put the king in check or how to get a piece out of trouble.  It’s like chess warm-ups that you can do to keep creative between games.  So I would do a chess task.

My third thing would be to play one board in Desert Golfing.  Desert Golfing is the best worst game in the world.  I find it very relaxing.  So I would quickly drop the ball in a hole and move on.

My three things were set.  It was now time to live life.

So far, I’ve only had to use them once.  I started feeling anxious, going deep into the what ifs, and I said to myself, “Melissa, stop.  This is not a good use of your time.  Do your three things and move back to work.”

So I queued up the Dungeons and Dragon game and listened for 5 minutes.  The people sounded like they were having a great time.  I then did a chess task.  It made me really happy to open the app in the middle of the day and visit the pieces.  (Oh — I have chess tasks I do on an actual board and others that I do via three different apps.  I went with one of the app ones for now.)  I solved my task and closed the app.

I realized as I opened Desert Golfing that I was feeling better and probably didn’t need to use up time on this third item, but I did it anyway in case it was like antibiotics and you needed to finish the whole course or end up getting sick again.  Desert Golfing also only takes a few seconds, so it was time well-spent.  I set down my phone and got back to work, no longer anxious.

Was it a placebo effect because I was told this would make a difference so it made a difference?  Perhaps.  But it really did change my mood to see chess pieces in the middle of the day.  And the Dungeons and Dragon minutes were just fun — like reading a magazine in the doctor’s office.  And Desert Golfing always makes me feel calm when I play, so it had its natural effect.

I’m going to keep at it.  If you’re doing this, too, what are your three things?


1 Cristy { 10.12.16 at 9:45 am }

I like this for so many reasons. Not only is it acknowledging the trigger, but then you are directing so you can reset.

Here are my 3 things (I already do 2, but the 3rd took me a bit).
1) take a quick walk outside. There’s a small green space that is 5 mins away.
2) pop in ear buds and listen to the radio, a play list or podcast. Whatever is in the cue.
3) (this one took a bit) Check out The NY Times Crossword puzzle. Give myself 5 minutes with this, with scheduled breaks to come back later.

And now I’m curious about chess puzzles.

2 Laurel Regan, CZT { 10.12.16 at 10:50 am }

I have no issues with the placebo effect – hey, whatever works! I’ve downloaded the app and also bought the book, which is next in the rotation – looking forward to discovering more SuperBetterness. Thanks for the recommendation!

3 Ana { 10.12.16 at 12:39 pm }

I just downloaded the app last night & haven’t set anything up yet…but I love this idea, specifically for anxiety. Things I do that I’ll probably add: pull up the NYT mini crossword (<1 minute), "self talk" (repeating a positive phrase to myself with eyes closed/deep breathing) <1 minute, and look out the window at something natural for a minute (I can't do the last one in my office because I face another building, so maybe I'll have to walk somewhere else/go downstairs to do it, which is fine if I'm really anxious)

4 Ana { 10.12.16 at 12:47 pm }

Also, I’d love the name of the chess task apps that you like! i tried a chess game app which was relaxing, but got buggy and would freeze up so I deleted it.

5 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.13.16 at 3:44 pm }

I’m glad to hear this worked for you. I’m going to have to think about my three things.

6 Karen { 10.20.16 at 4:56 pm }

So I finally got around to downloading the app and I love it!! (I know, late to the party, but whatever, I’m here now.)

My three things: 1) quick meditation – 1:00 of breathing, 2) a short piece of music, either classical or Broadway… and then I don’t know what. Maybe a cup of herbal tea, especially not that it’s getting colder. I haven’t had to set this yet but I’m sure I will!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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