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The Pursuit Of Happiness

game of life self reliant way self reliant weekly Feb 10, 2024
Benny Wills
Read time: 6 1/2 minutes


The system is not rigged against you.

But many think it is. I thought it was rigged against me. For a long time. 

Until I realized that by holding that belief I was holding myself back. In essence, I was rigging the system against myself.

In the game of life no one is dealt a perfect hand. The moves (actions) you make in the game determine your success. Regardless of your placement on the board or the circumstances you find yourself in.

Excuses and blame are the surefire paths to defeat.

A person can be born into a terrible situation and still find his or her way to an extraordinary life. People with awful circumstances turn their lives around all the time.  If they can do it, so can you.

Everyone is self-made. But only successful people admit it.

If the will to win is strong enough, the game of life can be won. And by won, I mean as close to victory as possible. Since death ensures that nobody actually beats the game.

Winners and high achievers are motivated by one of two forces. (Sometimes both.)

Force 1. Extreme Desire

Force 2: Extreme Avoidance

People driven by extreme desire orient their entire lives toward attainment. They obsess over that which they seek. The goal is so exciting to them, the vision is so clear, and their faith is so strong, they do whatever is required to achieve it.

People driven by extreme avoidance also have a clear outcome in mind. But what’s driving them toward their vision is a clear understanding of what they don’t want. In other words, they have an anti-vision. They’ll do whatever it takes to make sure their lives don’t look a certain way.

“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are two more traits that both types share:

  1. Impulse control

  2. Delayed gratification

Sadly, time mis-management is most people’s Achilles heel. Which makes sense. Most people (and I mean most, like 95%) fail to decide exactly what they want from life. If you don’t know what you want, if you don’t know what you’re building, if you’re not executing a plan, you’re  going to misuse your time.

Here’s one of my conversational pet peeves:

Person A: “How are you doing?

Person B: “Oh, you know, busy.”

Person A: “That’s good.”

That’s not good! Why is that good? Being busy does not mean you’re being productive. You can be busy doing anything or nothing.

Let’s continue with the metaphor.

Scoring System

In last week’s newsletter about the game of life, I outlined the following aspects:

Game Mechanics: Cause & Effect

Game Objective: Happiness. (Or, a life well-lived.)

Today, I’m talking about the scoring system.

What is happiness? Other than a fleeting happy feeling?

Happiness is an effect. 

The cause? Peak performance in these five areas:

  1. Health + Energy

  2. Loving relationships

  3. Meaningful work

  4. Financial freedom

  5. Inner peace + Spiritual understanding

When you reach high levels of all five, you will be genuinely happy most of the time.

  1. Health and Energy (Health Points):

This is the most crucial area to have success in. Because the other four depend on it. Every healthy habit you have adds points to your health score in the game. Unhealthy habits, negative self-talk, and a bad attitude subtract points.

Things like exercise and diet are (obviously) necessary for physical health. But habits that strengthen and support your emotional and mental health are just as important.

If you’re in excellent shape but easily stressed or depressed, your health score is low. Consider journaling, meditating, or praying to get your mind right.

For long-term gains, incorporate recreation into your game strategy. Recreation in the truest sense of the word. Re-creation. Where you spend time re-creating yourself. A recreation is more than a hobby or an occasional round of pickleball. For some, it’s growing and maintaining a garden. For others, it’s surfing, or painting, or rebuilding old cars. Recreation is your opportunity to reset and rejuvenate.

For a high level of health and energy in your pursuit of happiness, you need recreation. If you don’t have one, find one.

  1. Loving Relationships (Relationship Tokens)

Loneliness is a happiness destroyer. Meaningful connections make life worth living. Friends and conversations are priceless.

One of the top regrets of people dying is, “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

Make time for the people you care about. Acknowledge them. Reach out to them on their birthdays.

Apologize to the people you have hurt. Forgive those who have hurt you.

Call people by their names. Humans want to be remembered after they die. Remember them while they’re alive.

Be kind. Have positive interactions. Learn to communicate effectively.

(When you’re ready, check out my course Free Your Speech.)

The more loving you are, the more tokens you gain, and the happier you will be.

There are no relationship tokens for conflicts, grudges, or misunderstandings. None for judgment or criticism either.

  1. Meaningful Work (Value Cards)

Meaningful work means service to others.

Every work-related achievement adds value cards to your hand. The more value you provide, the more value you receive. The more meaningful your service, the more people whose lives you touch, the happier you are. 

“Sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing.”

- Alan Watts

When you give love to people, you get love in return. Your rewards in life will always be in proportion to your level of service.

“But, Benny. I work hard and no one cares! I offer service and no one wants it.”

Then you’re doing something wrong. You haven’t honestly evaluated what’s not working and why. Never outsource responsibility for your lack of success.

Remember Force 1. You must desire the outcome so much that you will stop at nothing until you get it.

The most important keys to success through meaningful work are:

  • Desire - Wanting it badly enough 

  • Faith - Believing that it’s possible 

  • Persistence - Seeing it through

Your level of service determines your level of success. Commit to improving the lives of others. Excel at what you do. Success, as you define it, will be yours.

I’ve written about this before, but there’s never been a better time to start a business. To get paid for doing what you are uniquely qualified to do.

(I can help with this. Book a call with me. The Self Reliant Way officially launches next month. Details coming soon.)

Soar from achievement to achievement. Accumulate a stack of (metaphorical) value cards. Look back on your life with a sense of accomplishment. Know that you did everything you could to help.

Of the five areas that comprise a well-lived life, meaningful work is the hardest one to actualize. Yes, even more than:

4. Financial Freedom (Wealth Coins)

You can get rich without doing anything meaningful. Many who pursue wealth alone feel empty when they get it. Because it's then that they realize there is more to life than being rich.

To combine two metaphors, slaying the financial dragon is one piece of the puzzle. The game of life requires fulfillment in all five areas.

That said, money has real utility. The more wealth coins you accumulate in the game of life, the more options become available to you on the board. Like:

  • Where you can live

  • Where you can go

  • What you can do

Money is an effect. Make your production, your service, the cause.

Anyone can learn how to make money. I repeat, anyone can learn how to make money. 

Couple your pursuit of financial freedom with your devotion to meaningful work. And you all but guarantee victory in those aspects of the game.

Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does contribute more towards happiness than poverty does.

“No man can attract money if he despises it. People are kept in poverty by saying, ‘Money means nothing to me.’”

- Florence Scovel Shinn

In the game of life, the wealth coins you earn can also be traded for the most precious resource on the board:


Buying back your time means you have more to invest in:

  • Matters of health

  • Loved ones

  • Creative projects

  • Skill acquisition 

  • Adventure

  • Re-creation

In the game of life, a sufficient amount of money is the difference between surviving and thriving.

5. Inner Peace + Spiritual Understanding (Spirituality Gems)

The Gems:

  • Calmness + Serenity

  • Compassion + Empathy

  • Gratitude + Contentment

  • Acceptance + Letting Go

  • Connection to something greater

I’m not audacious enough to tell you how to reach spiritual understanding. But I believe I have a grasp on what attainment looks like.

At the risk of sounding cheesy - achieving inner peace and spiritual understanding is not a destination but a journey.

These gems are always available. You don’t win them. You can pick them up at any time simply by remembering they’re there.

How you hold onto them once they’re in your grasp is up to you.

Nurture your growth. Act with integrity. Live with purpose. Be authentic.

No more worry, no more doubt. No more fear. No more anger or anxiety. Only appreciation for the game.

You will be happy. (And your happiness is a gift to all.)

“Contempt for happiness is usually contempt for other people's happiness and is an elegant disguise for hatred of the human race.”

- Bertrand Russell


Establish personal and specific goals for each area. Write them down. Lock them in. Remind yourself of them constantly. Every day.

Let your worthy ideals guide you through the game.

And remember, it’s never too late to start playing.

“In the game of life, nothing is less important than the score at halftime. The tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins.”

- Andy Andrews

I will continue discussing The Game of Life next week.

Much love,


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