Play ’til you WIN!

Losing stinks. We all know that, right? We tell our children (or other people's children) stuff like "You need to be a good loser," or "When you lose, you learn," or "It's just a game!"
I teach kids chess in a bi-monthly chess club I started years ago, and I've said a lot of phrases like those. They're all true... technically, but they don't really make losing feel any better. 
Losing is disappointing. It hurts.
Losing confirms your fears that you're not good enough, or it rattles the self-confidence that said you'd do it this time. 
Losing confirms your fears that you're not good enough.
Losing kills your motivation if you let it. It makes you want to quit trying.
Losing stinks.
You've probably figured out by now I'm not just talking about chess and kids. I'm talking about you and me, and the fear of losing that can so easily lead to a lifestyle of passivity where we just accept what happens without active response or resistance.
About 25 years ago, my brother Lowell taught me how to play chess, and of course, he would always beat me. Many a game ended with all the pieces flying to the floor when I lost.
Over the years, I started to win a couple games here and there, and eventually, we started to level out. 
There's one phrase we used then and we still use now when one of us is on a losing streak against the other:
"One more game. We play 'til I win." 
And that's where we're going to drop the chess analogy because this principle is bigger than a game. Life is not 5-rounds, 9-innings, or 4 quarters, and we're not just playing TO win; we get to play UNTIL we win.
You see, you and I were created to win, NOT to lose, and unlike a chess game where there can't be more than one winner, in life we can all actually win.
Now I know we have differing levels of opportunity and obstacles that profoundly effect our lives, but regardless of your education, finances, relationship status, health, age, race, nationality, whatever... You actually can win. It's built into you. That's why losing hurts so much.
As a side note, don't use other people's misfortune to make excuses that we all can't win. Get on their team and help them! 
If all the people hurt by violence and conflict in the world weighs heavily on your mind, partner with organizations like Preemptive Love that are doing something about it.
If the plight of the homeless in your community deeply discourages you, contact a local homeless shelter or food bank, and help make a difference. Two great ones in my hometown are Loaves and Fishes homeless shelter and Manna Food Pantry.
Ok... Back to the discussion at hand. What would it look like if we lived life with the attitude that we play 'til we win?
I'll tell you what this looks like for me. I fabricate wins. I create them. I stack the deck in my favor and then jump up and down when I win!
I fabricate wins. I create them. I stack the deck in my favor and then jump up and down when I win!
I'm not talking about being dishonest or cheating. I'm simply saying you really can win at life because in many areas (certainly not all, of course) you  are authorized to make up the rules.
Let's say I'm feeling bored at life, and I know I'm probably spending too much of my free time watching TV when I've got a stack of awesome books with the potential to change my life.
Or maybe I'm feeling insecure about how I look, and my feel-good response (which makes absolutely no "sense") is eating hot-from-the-oven Ghiraradelli chocolate brownies covered with vanilla bean ice cream and hot fudge.
Or what if I'm feeling disconnected from God, and my faith feels far away?
Whether you're losing in "little" areas like eating too much or in "big" areas like sexual addiction or substance abuse, you have the power to start winning.
The way you can win is by making up some "rules" you KNOW you can actually follow; give yourself a length of time (I've found 10 days to be powerful); and then win!
Let's take an "easy" example as well as a "hard" one.
If I feel disconnected from God, I can decide that for the next 10 days, I'm going to set a reminder on my phone and pray for 10 minutes each day.
Too hard? What about 10 seconds a day? Could you do that? Of course you could if you did it on purpose with a reminder so you don't forget.
The length of time isn't really the point. Doing something on purpose is the point.
Ok so how about something "hard"?
Let's say you're addicted to porn - you want to give it up, but it's too strong, and nothing you do seems to work.
What if you spent 10 minutes a day for the next 10 days going for a walk around your block, engaging with the outside world?
Or 10 minutes for 10 days reading a book you're interested in?
Or 10 minutes journaling?
Or 10 minutes soaking in some great music.
Wait a minute. What the heck does that have to do with porn? Absolutely nothing because porn isn't the problem. What you're losing at isn't the problem. You are. 
What you're losing at isn't the problem. You are. 
You think you can't win, and in some areas, maybe you're right... today. But life isn't just about today! You play 'til youwin!
Prove to yourself you're a winner.
To win at ANYTHING, you gotta first win at SOMETHING. 
My biggest something this year is health. I've got a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound): to lose 20 pounds by December 31.
My focus isn't 100% on diet and exercise, though. I still "win some, lose some" there.
I've been a loser in so many areas of my life, but now I've started winning.
Here are some wins I've had in the last few months:
  • I've had a regular quiet time each day for the longest streak in my life
  • I've forgiven someone close to me whose actions didn't "deserve" it
  • I went completely through a jogging app on my phone, and I've started it over again
  • I've written more for fun this year than ever before
  • I'm intentionally reading and actually FINISHING some great books
  • I'm drinking the "right" amount of water each day
  • I'm building a close friendship with another man (something I've never had besides family)
This stuff isn't happening because I'm just hoping, wishing, or even praying it will. It's happening because I'm living and winning on purpose.
I started the quiet time with a simple commitment for 10 days, and I haven't stopped.
I forgave my dad as a result of some good counsel I got from a friend who I spend weekly, scheduled, intentional time with.
I've jogged more the last two months than I have the past 5 years combined because I committed to 10 days at a time: Monday-Thursday for two and a half weeks. I've done that 3 times so far and now I can run a 5K without stopping.
I could go on, but I'm REALLY NOT trying to impress you. I'm telling you I've been a loser in so many areas of my life, but now I've started winning, and I want you to start too!
To win at ANYTHING, you gotta first win at SOMETHING.
Choose your "something" today; slap the 10-Day Challenge on it, and start winning.

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