A very overlooked game related skill is the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs. (this is also a sign of schizophrenia but let’s ignore that for now). A perfect example of this is believing that you have significant control over your own life. Mark Mason writes:
There is a belief from which all other positive beliefs flow. This is the prime belief. This is the belief that you are responsible for what happens to you in your own life, no matter the external circumstances. The belief that regardless of the situation, our decisions are our responsibility.
It seems to be clear that a strong sense of control and responsibility for your own life leads to success, happiness and emotional health. The problem is that every day it is plain to see that most people are victims of circumstance who have very little control over the course their lives are taking. We can argue forever about whether that’s bad luck, or demonstrative of people apathetically rejecting the option to seize control of their lives; but it’s a pointless argument because if a resolution were ever to be found, that wouldn’t cause changes that would improve people’s live on a large scale.
Instead, we should just accept that both are true depending on application. Like how the laws of classical gravity break down on a quantum scale, the laws of statistics break down when applied to individuals.
Consider something like “the movement of smoke through air follows a predictable pattern”. This is true if you observe a cloud of smoke. They tend to behave in predictable ways. So predictable that convincing smoke special effects can be made in basic computer programs. So predictable that smoke signalling was one of the first forms of reliable long distance communication.
But when you observe the cloud of smoke more closely, you can see that each individual particle behaves entirely randomly. The aggregate sum of these entirely random movements, however, is very predictable.
The belief is both true and untrue, and the ability to hold a contradiction like this without experiencing cognitive dissonance is a difficult, but incredibly useful skill.
In my next post I’ll detail how to apply this contradictory (and stereotypically female) thinking to your personal life.