The Battle for Better

You hear about people fighting cancer, battling alcoholism, waging war on their own crippling levels of apathy, but in the midst of the fray you might identify more with a battleground than someone who’s actually engaged in warfare.

As someone in an ongoing turf war with depression—yeah, you stay in your corner!—I understand what it’s like to feel helpless. I’m familiar with the sense that no matter what I do, it won’t make a difference; I’m well-acquainted with the crushing weight that comes with getting out of bed in the morning; and I’ve made friends with the notion that there’s nothing anyone can do to help me.

Adopting a Gameful Mindset

Resilience is the ability to bounce back and adapt to change. It’s what allows you to try again after failure. In a game, it’s the drive to try to defeat the boss again; this time by implementing a mysterious item, calling upon your friends, or targeting a suspected weakness.

When it comes to resilience, gamers already have it figured out. In games, we go on quests to move toward our goals, we battle bad guys when they get in the way, we seek out and activate power-ups when we need extra or enhanced abilities, and we form alliances with people who can help us on our journey.

How can we apply these skills IRL? Luckily for us gamers, there’s a gamey (and science-based) app/website created by Jane McGonigal, aka Jane the Concussion Slayer, who initially developed the game to aid in her recovery from a debilitating concussion.

Getting SuperBetter

The app uses McGonigal’s background in game design, her experience gamefully recovering from her concussion, principles she gleaned from thousands of studies on resiliency, and the thoughts and actions she found were associated with this trait. The National Institute of Health even funded a research study finding that her SuperBetter method really did boost resiliency!

The game is simple: choose your epic win (a goal that matters to you), activate power-ups (things that make you feel good), battle bad guys (things that stand in the way of your epic win), and complete quests (things that move you toward your epic win). The game comes loaded with these, but you can customize them to suit your own journey. You can also create your own secret identity, choose allies, and complete challenges. As your resiliency and list of achievements grow, so too will your epic wins. It’s not just about getting better—you can be SuperBetter!

Now, you’ll have to excuse me; I’m off to select my epic win and plot out some quests for myself. Who am I kidding? As an Explorer, I’m going to be watching all the videos and reading all the science cards for a while, but if there’s a way to SuperBetter my experience of SuperBetter, you’d better believe I’ll find it! AFK.


To check out SuperBetter for yourself, visit:

For more on the science, see her book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient—Powered by the Science of Games.

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