SUPERBETTER: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient—Powered by the Science of Games

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm

SUPERBETTER: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient—Powered by the Science of Games

Jane McGonigal

(Penguin Press, September 15, 2015)

A remarkable life plan developed from the program four hundred thousand people have used to recover from setbacks and injuries and achieve personal growth

In 2009, game designer and author Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion that wouldn’t heal. Unable to think clearly, or work, or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal—a common symptom for concussion sufferers. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a game. What started as a simple motivational exercise became a set of rules she shared on her blog. These rules became a digital game, then an online portal and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today more than 400,000 people have played SuperBetter to get happier and healthier.

But the ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games change how we respond to stress, challenge and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a gameful mindset. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games – such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination – to real world situations.

McGonigal explores the best ways to harness gameful skills out in the real world not only to experience “post-traumatic growth,” but also to tackle positive life goals, achieving what she calls “post-ecstatic growth.” To show how, she shares stories and data from players who have followed the SuperBetter rules to get stronger, happier and braver in the face of depression, anxiety, illness and injury, as well as to achieve major goals like losing weight, running a marathon, and finding a new job.

The SuperBetter method contains seven rules for activating gameful strengths in everyday life, distilled from McGonigal’s own pioneering work and that of others. SuperBetter the book turns these rules into playful challenges the reader can undertake while reading, in a series of quests that explain the science behind the benefits. Playing by the seven rules begins to yield life-changing benefits in a matter of days, and eventually they become an ingrained skillset.

As inspiring as it is down-to-earth, grounded in rigorous research and powered by game design, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life.  You’ll never say that something is “just a game” again.

About the science

The SuperBetter method is designed to make you stronger, happier, braver and more resilient.

There’s a lot of evidence that it works.

A randomized controlled study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that playing SuperBetter for thirty days significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increases optimism, social support, and your belief in your ability to succeed and achieve your goals. The study also found that people who followed the SuperBetter rules for one month were significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives.

A clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted at Ohio State University Medical Research Center and Cinicinnati Children’s Hospital found that the SuperBetter method improves mood, relieves stress, and strengthens family relationships during rehabilitation and recovery.

Meanwhile, data collected from more than 400,000 SuperBetter players has helped me improve the method, to make it easier to learn and more fun to use in everyday life.

Every single day for the past five years, I’ve heard from someone who says that the SuperBetter method has changed their life. It is my greatest hope that SuperBetter will help you tackle your greatest challenges, and pursue your biggest dreams, with more courage, creativity, optimism and support.

Excerpt from SUPERBETTER:

Here’s an interesting fact about games: We almost never feel hopeless when we play them.

It’s true. Psychologists have studied the top emotions of playing games, and genuine anxiety and pessimism during game play are extremely rare. Even when we’re losing or struggling, we’re vastly more likely to feel determined and optimistic than we are to feel panicked or powerless. This is true even of professional athletes or poker players whose careers and livelihoods are on the line when they play. That’s because – as you’ll learn in this chapter – the psychology of games naturally makes it easier for us to manage anxiety more effectively, to focus on opportunity rather than threats, and to fear failure less.

Why? Because when we play a game, we focus on goals and growth. We seek out challenges voluntarily, and we savor the difficulty. We play not to avoid losing, but instead to find out what we are capable of. And we believe that victories even against great odds are possible.

What if you could bring this gameful mindset to your real-life obstacles? Is it possible, or even wise, to feel the same optimism, courage and curiosity in everyday life, where the stakes are higher and failure has significantly more consequences?

Yes, it absolutely is possible and wise to bring a gameful mindset to real-life obstacles. Some changes SuperBetter players have tackled successfully include: Getting debt-free. Becoming awesome at being self-employed. 21-day sugar detox. Coming out to my family. Completing my first triathlon. Preparing for divorce. Raising a happy, successful child with autism. Learning to love myself. The fight against cancer. Some of these challenges are entirely self-chosen, a positive life change the player wants to make. But many are challenges no one would ever choose for themselves – an injury, an illness, a trauma, a loss. You might think that these kinds of challenges would be resistant to a gameful approach. They’re too serious, too painful, too life-or-death to “play around” with.  In fact, a gameful approach to problems works even better for the uninvited challenges that life throws at you, than with the positive changes we decide to make.

That’s why I recommend tackling something that is truly an urgent goal for you – whether it’s living free of anxiety, finding a new job, changing your diet, flourishing despite chronic pain, or jump-starting your love life. Tackle an important problem in your life, even if it seems overwhelming right now or out of your control.

In fact, especially if it overwhelms you or feels out of your control. Gameful thinking and acting works extremely well in situations where we can easily become hopeless and give up. According to data from more than 400,000 SuperBetter players, the more overwhelming the problem or daunting the challenge seems to you, the more effective the gameful method seems to be. That’s because everything about it helps you develop more control and exercise more power in situations where you feel powerless, or have self-doubt. So don’t hold back.

Pre-order the book at Amazon now.

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