Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hand Held. Hand Played.

I am continuing on with some thoughts about gaming and doing well in life, especially in love life. Please see the last post before this one, if you have not already. This one will make a lot more sense if you do.

Everyone is dealt a hand in life. Here, I’m focusing on the hand you were dealt when it comes to succeeding in romantic relationships. A person’s hand is made up of many things that affect success and risk in romance. This is a very short list (there are many other things I could list):

- Family history (parents divorced, for example = more risk)
- Education and income (less = more risk)
- Looks (see blog entry below “what women want (and men too)”
- Disposition and personality tendencies (are you smooth or easily upset?)
- Past relationship history
- What city you live in terms of available partners
- Mental health history and issues
- Attachment security and insecurity (more insecure = more risk)
- Age (it’s complicated)
- Genetics (yes, the risk for divorce is partly genetic)

To some extent, you have little control about the hand that life dealt you. You have some control, however. For example, there are increased risks in marriage when a person has a lot of sexual partners prior to marriage. Presumably, one could decide not to do that and affect the hand they have to play later in life.

My point here is that whatever your hand, you will do better in life to play it and play it well. As I said in the last post, “give yourself a hand and don’t drop the ball.” Hope you got the play on words. Think like you have a hand to play in life and not like someone who’s just dropping a roulette ball and hoping that it lands on his or her number.

I’ve been reading a very interesting book called “The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life,” by Ben Sherwood. (The title is a link to it if you want to read more about it. It’s a bestseller.) Ben Sherwood covers a whole range of interesting stories about people who survived various things that most people do not, or would not, survive. He uses those stories to talk about the characteristics of survivors. He notes that, in some situations, you will not survive and there is nothing to do about it—nothing in your hand that it would matter to play. If you are on a plane falling from the sky, you have few or no cards to play. That’s in comparison, though, to a plane crashing while taking off, where many people do survive. As Sherwood describes, in that type of situation, what people do in a critical window of 90 seconds after the crash determines everything.

As Sherwood goes though the book, one of the things he attacks over and over again is passivity. He challenges the idea that there is nothing you can do to affect your chances in various situations because he believes (and research backs him up) that such a fatalistic view can get you killed when you don’t need to be dead. And I’m not talking about merely being undead, like many characters in my sons’ video games, but really alive.

In romantic relationships, playing your hand means taking an active role in what you do and why. It means deciding and not sliding so that you can do what you are able to do to improve your odds in life and love. That may also mean learning some things you don’t know already, like about what things make it more likely that relationships will succeed. Or, learning how to choose a partner wisely (see earlier post, “Looking for Love that Lasts,” as well). Or, if you are a couple trying to figure out if you got what it takes, taking a relationship education class together to see what you can learn and how well you cope together with learning. (For more information on relationship education, see websites such as www.PREPinc.com, www.loveyourrelationship.com, and www.smartmarriages.com.)

The key is realizing that what you do truly matters in how your life will turn out. That can make all the difference.