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?