While watching my two daughters play the traditional Indian game of “Snakes and stairs“, I realized, at every step, that there was a surprising resemblance that this game has in the journey of our life. There are so many lessons that this game can teach us, including how to go about playing the biggest game in our hands, that is “our own life”.
Let me give you some information about the game only for those unfortunate souls who haven’t had the pleasure of playing this classic game during their childhood, and then I’ll share how I look at this game from the perspective of life and what I learn from it.
About the game
Snakes and Ladders is a traditional Indian board game played in almost all families. Today it is considered a world classic. The historical version of this game was designed to teach players moral lessons and to show the similarity of the game with life and its teachings. The progression of a player on the board from 1 to 100 represented the journey of a lifetime while snakes and stairs represented the vices and virtues along the journey.
Here is my opinion on learning this game. Some of these learnings were historically intended for the way it is documented here, while most of them are based on my personal experience of the journey of life so far.
(1) Virtues and vices
The game has been interpreted and used as a tool to teach the effects of good deeds against the bad guys. The scales represent virtues such as generosity, faith and humility, while snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder and theft. As in life, the game shows that the number of scales will always be less than the number of snakes to remember that a path of good is much more difficult to walk than a path of sins. Despite this, stick to this,
(2) Life is double
One of the most important implicit in the game is the immutability of the two things, the duality of up & down, good and bad, Alpha & Omega, Day & night, etc. Life is not meant to be a one-way affair. You will face both good and bad times. You will face ups and downs. Just like ladders (ups) and snakes (downs), you will encounter the good and the bad around you and you will also do the right things and the wrong ones as you go through the beautiful journey of life. Life is double Accept it this way and you will be able to live much happier. If today, things didn’t go your way (you may have encountered more snakes), this is a part of the game. You have to stay focused and move on. You will probably soon be in possession of a ladder. Keep moving.
(3) Identify your goal
The goal of the game is pre-identified for you. It is very clear that in order to win you need to reach 100. Whoever played the game might have realized how concentrated we are in the game until we reach 100, even if you get a straight or you are hitting any snake. Regardless of what is happening to our competitor in the game, we continue to remain extremely focused to reach 100 challenging all the odds and not get bogged down by any snake bite.
This is exactly how the biggest game (life) should be lived. First, you should define the goal of your life before leaving your home to do anything else. This is the hardest thing to do for many people and most of us struggle to the end of our lives to find the goal of our lives. I always recommend my readers to stop doing anything else before they have found the purpose of their lives. Living a life without a specific purpose is like playing the game Snakes and Ladders without knowing that your mission is to reach 100. Everything you are doing in your life today is useless unless you have defined it purpose of your life.
If you’re running in a vicious circle and you’re part of the so-called rat race, and you’re not sure how you could find the time to identify or pursue your true life goals, you can adapt a process that I adapted a few years ago. First, try to free yourself financially by doing what you are doing today. Publish your financial freedom, you would have bought the time in your favor and then you can really work to achieve your life goals. Make financial freedom one of your most important scales in this life game to reach your ultimate goals or pursue your life passions.
(4) Keep your focus on the goal
Once you’ve defined the purpose, align all your daily actions with the purpose of your life. You must keep your focus on that final goal and it will guide your daily actions to make sure they are aligned to the purpose. If you encounter things you do every day that are not aligned with the purpose of your life, start thinking and finding ways to slowly eliminate them from your life.
(5) Be humble but never give up.
Don’t look down on people who are less fortunate than you. Everything you have with you today is temporary and can be destroyed in a split second. Be grateful for what you have. Likewise, when you fall, don’t give up. Try again. It’s not exactly what you do when you fall into the game. Wait again with renewed energy and fight to the top. This is exactly how life should be lived. Never Never give up in life.
(6) Accept the result
Whatever the result (win or lose), accept it with grace. Don’t be too happy for success and, on the other hand, don’t be unmotivated in your failure. Everything is temporary and life should have a mix of both. This is also the sporting spirit. You lose a motivation, not an excuse not to play again. Convert your negative result into positive energy to counterattack and reach the top.
(7) Have patience
Patience is another virtue we can learn from this game. You could be down and out. You could be the last of the game but if you keep your patience and continue to do the right thing to do, you may soon be surprised how quickly life can give you back, just like in this game. So, be patient, keep doing the right thing, don’t be distracted, annoyed or unmotivated. Life will have a shift … once again. Give it a chance and continue to follow the right path.
(8) Keep moving
At the end of the day, it is not the number of scales or snakes you face in your life that determine your destiny. Did someone win this game just because they got more numbers of stairs? No. Your future in the game of life is determined by one thing, and only one thing – “movement”. Keep moving always ahead. Don’t stop at the feet of a snake and throw away the dice. Keep moving. Get up again and keep moving. You might like to stop for a moment to recharge the batteries, or even make a little cry, but then keep moving again. On the road, learn from your mistakes or misfortunes – until you reach the goal as a seasoned winner.
(9) Enjoy life
This is the greatest lesson of all of them, in my opinion. Never be in a hurry to reach the end of the game. Enjoy the lucky breaks, but realize that constant patches and snakes keep us from coming to the end too quickly and adding spice to our game. Enjoy the journey of this game, the turns, the snakes and the stairs in equal measure. In the end, everyone will reach the final goal, sooner or later. Be a good player, making the most of your trip. Enjoy and love every moment of life.