Life is Like a Game of Cards: How to Win


Understand the game to win the game.

This is a quick post about the game of life and how you can increase your odds of ‘winning’ it.

Even though it’s a quick post it’s going to help you understand a few really important things:

  1. What it actually means to ‘win’ life in this context.
  2. The type of cards you have at your disposal in the ‘game’.
  3. How you can best play these cards in order to increase your odds of getting where you want to be in life.

Here we go:

What it really means to ‘win’ or be successful in the game of life.

There are literally millions (if not more) of quotes already online about what the true meaning of ‘success’ is – most will agree that it’s not just about having a certain number in your bank account or driving a Lamborghini but about something deeper (though money and Lamborghinis can definitely DENOTE success).

For the sake of simplicity here we can say that ‘success’ just means that you’re living in a way that’s aligned with a vision that you CHOSE YOURSELF around your true values and intentions and that nobody is making you do things that you don’t really want to do or can’t tolerate (because they serve this wider vision).

This vision will be different for everybody – hence ‘success’ or ‘winning’ ultimately being subjective – but in this context the way that you win the game is that you find a way to keep growing real, make the majority of your own decisions about your life, and that you feel you’re actually spending the majority of your TIME (the most valuable thing you have) doing something that you either enjoy or that is meaningful to you because it moves you in the direction you CHOOSE your life to be going in.

Here’s what this all looks like:

It’s probably easier to understand if you look at this by comparing winning and losing in these terms:

Vision: When you’re winning, your life is either about moving towards or enjoying whatever vision you have for yourself; when you’re losing, then most of your time, energy, and attention is spent in the service of somebody else’s vision at the cost of not feeling that alive or enjoying life.

Values: When you’re winning, your life is an extension of your values (‘truth’, ‘freedom’, ‘creativity’, whatever is relevant to you); when you’re losing, you find yourself in a VACUUM where the world is not a reflection of your values at all (probably the opposite of your human values the more your loss of the ‘game’ snowballs).

Intentions: When you’re winning you CHOOSE what to do so you can act in alignment with your intentions; when you’re losing, then your intentions don’t matter because you end up being TOLD what to do.

The short-version is just that ‘winning’ means you’re living YOUR life instead of somebody else’s.

The three types of ‘cards’ in life and how to win.

There are three types of cards that pop up in life as we try to move towards ‘winning’ (living our own life by CHOOSING to align ourselves with our real vision, values, and intentions):

Deterministic Cards: Which are cards you have been dealt by life and can’t change.

Psychological Cards: Which are cards that are a product of your current mindset. These cards can be changed – or at least upgraded – as you learn to align your mindset with REALITY.

Social Cards: These are the cards that are played against you by the WORLD – in other words, you might have an idea about how you want to play your cards as a whole but society might have other plans.

Here’s a bit more of an explanation of each type:

Deterministic Cards

The Deterministic Cards are the ones that you’ve been dealt by life whether you like it or not. Some of these cards are dealt to you from birth and are just the things about your life that you can’t change because they’re INEVITABLE.

Some of these cards are dealt to ALL of us (which at least makes the game fair) – for example, the fact that we’re all gonna be DEAD one day, that we can’t control everything, that we will sometimes make mistakes, etc.

Other Deterministic Cards might be specific to you and you alone – an illness that you were born with, certain trials and tribulations that you may face as you’re growing up, your parents, the place you were born in and your economic circumstances.

Either way, the majority of these cards come down to our BIOLOGY and the laws of PHYSICS which are always beyond our control –  ultimately, they’re just part of the mechanical, deterministic process of how nature and life operate at the most fundamental level.

These cards are essentially just the “IT IS WHAT IT IS” ones that are completely out of your control due to the randomness of life shuffling the deck before you even came into existence.

Other Deterministic Cards will be dealt to you as you go through life and there’s nothing you can do about them: maybe you’ll lose your job, you’ll get sick, somebody you care about will pass away, etc. – none of these things are ‘personal’ but they will be dealt to you as you keep playing the game and trying to ‘Win’.

How to ‘play’ to win: To make the most of your Deterministic Cards you need to work towards ACCEPTING them.

Only through acceptance can you prevent yourself from causing unnecessary problems for yourself that distract you from the game itself.

Once you’ve accepted, you will realise that – even though these cards can’t be changed – each one of them contains both a LESSON and an OPPORTUNITY that will allow you to move towards your personal vision and ‘winning’ the game.

To make the most of these cards you need to take yourself through that process: Accept what you’ve been dealt, look for the lesson and opportunity, and then move towards your vision in a stronger position because of this.

Anything other than acceptance will cause you to LOSE the game because it will take you out of reality and that always creates friction, frustration, and then misery.

Psychological Cards

The Psychological Cards change as you look at them.  Ultimately, they are the ‘cards’ you’ve acquired as a result of your ATTITUDE towards life and your own relationship with yourself, the world, and reality.

The caveat with these cards is that you can’t play them until you’re ready and you’re only ready when your mindset is aligned with reality itself.

Ultimately, your mindset will affect whether or not you are able to ACCEPT your Deterministic Cards and then what you CHOOSE to do with them.

If you have an unreal mindset then you will not be able to see the lessons and opportunities that are available to you because of the cards you’ve been dealt – nor will you be able to be ACTIVE in your approach to life and moving towards your vision.

You can ‘pick up’ a new Psychological Card any time you push yourself through your comfort zone and test your assumptions about yourself, the world, and reality by taking ACTION.

When you do this you acquire new ‘Insight’ which allows you to get a better understanding of life and what’s possible within it – this insight unlocks your real self from any unreal or limiting beliefs that might have been holding you back from your vision and all of the amazing things that are possible for you.

The short-version here is that if you have a GROWTH MINDSET then you will continue to pick up new Psychological Cards that make it easier to see a way forward, make real choices, and win the game.

If you have a STATIC or PASSIVE mindset then you will be unable to see a way forward and will increase your odds of losing the game.

How to ‘play’ to win: Playing to win here means understanding that the cards you hold at the level of your own psychology are often FLUID and so you can increase your odds of winning the game by learning to change these cards.

Ultimately, you do this in a way where you understand that you can live your life to keep learning and growing and that by doing this you will acquire new insight, become stronger in yourself, and be able to make BETTER CHOICES about your Deterministic Cards and whatever else arises on your way to realising your vision (including the limits society tries to impose on you – see below).

Social Cards

Finally, there are the Social Cards – in the context of the game these are the cards that tell you what you’re ‘allowed’ to do or what you ‘should’ do with the ones you already have.

Like the Deterministic Cards, these can pop up at any time as you go through the game – however, unlike the Deterministic Cards, the social ones are often not something that are inevitable or inescapable as part of reality itself.

In many cases, the Social Cards are actually presenting ILLUSORY BARRIERS that inexperienced players will see as actual barriers to their progress.

For example, maybe you’ve been dealt the Deterministic Cards of being born a certain sex but Social Cards are dealt in your community (or whatever) that say that your desire to move towards your vision in a certain way (because of your Psychological Cards and the CHOICES you’ve made) is not ‘allowed’, ‘appropriate’, or something that you ‘should’ do as a man/woman/whatever.

If you have a weak mindset (because you haven’t picked up enough Psychological Cards that benefit you) then this Social Card and the associated ‘social pressure’ will stop you from doing what you actually WANT to do with your other cards and prevent you from winning the game.

How to ‘play’ to win: Social Cards will be dropped on you by all kinds of external sources as you move towards your vision (and one reason the game is hard because some of these cards will be dealt by people close to you or that you care about).

The way that you ‘win’ against these cards is by testing them to see if they’re actually presenting obstacles that are REAL (i.e. Deterministic and so you can only ACCEPT them) or if they’re just something that people in your world want you to believe are real so that they can win the game and you can lose.

Distinguishing the validity/power of the Social Cards is easier as you work on your own mindset and acquire more Psychological Cards.

Conclusion: Play To Win

Now that you understand the different cards you’ll be dealt by life (and the other people you’re sharing it with) you should be better equipped to stay real and move on your own terms.


If this story inspired or helped you then please share it with others! 🙂

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