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"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will"

- Jawaharlal Nehru

If you've been following us for some time, you may have noticed at least two things so far. One, we love a good how-to article. And two, we often talk about life like it's a game. If you're new to the Weekly Wellness, check out Learning How to Fight When Life Has You on the Ropes, Are You Playing Checkers or Chess or Life: The Ultimate Treasure Hunt to get a sense of just how far this rabbit hole goes. This doesn't mean we don't take life seriously; it means we've learned to approach life's circumstances like a puzzle or a riddle to solve. It hasn't always been this way. For the longest time, there was one game I could never seem to win.

Our family would frequently play a card game called "Rich Man, Poor Man". Looking back on it now, it's a pretty accurate way to explain how society can sometimes feel (but I'll save that tangent for another day!). The goal of the game is to end up as the rich (wo)man, because once you're in this position you get to unload your three worst cards to the person in last place (a.k.a. the poor man), and take the three best cards from that same person to give yourself the best advantage. As soon as I fell into last place, I remember thinking that it felt nearly impossible to get out of that position.

One day, I finally realized that it was possible to win and that it required playing each hand I was dealt (good or bad), really really well! I started to play with strategy, patience, and stopped taking every bad hand as a sign that that would be my position forever. It turns out I had a wild card - my ability to make decisions as best I could from the position I was in. Slowly but surely, I started to work my way up from the bottom. Even now, I still think of life very much like this game. To steal a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson in this week's favorite article, 5 Reminders for Making the Right Choices in Life, "Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well."

In this article, there's a great reminder that no matter what cards we are dealt, there is always a wild card at our disposal. The "wild card" is our decisions, and the ability to make good ones will determine the difference between winning our hand and having to fold. There were plenty of times in our game when the person who started at the top ended up at the bottom, and instances where the poor man took home the bragging rights.

It's great to know it's not about luck, and it's also not about starting off with the best cards, it's thinking through every decision as we play. Whether you feel like the rich (wo)man or the poor (wo)man in this scenario, it's each decision, hand after hand, which ultimately builds up enough opportunities to win the game. So if our outcome in life truly comes down to making one good choice after another, how do we ensure that we are making the best decisions for our circumstance? One word - awareness.

A consistent meditation practice clears the mind of junk to see things clearly and it's from this place that all of our best decisions are made. If you feel like the cards are stacked against you, know that you always have meditation as an ace in the pocket. Use it to improve your hand with increased clarity and get the edge over your opposition with peace of mind. Once we learn how to work with the cards we're dealt, the game gets a lot more fun!