I finished SuperBetter a while ago, but I waited to review it because I wanted to do it justice. I can, in all honesty, say that this book has been life-changing for me. It’s one of those rare books that hit home and inspired me to do something about the aspects of my life I wasn’t happy with.
The Backstory of SuperBetter
Jane McGonigal was a researcher specialized in games and gaming culture when she had an accident and was diagnosed with concussion syndrome. All of a sudden, her life consisted of lying in bed, in a dark room, avoiding any and all things that made her brain hurt (light, sounds, everything really). She knew she had a long road to recovery ahead, and decided to use her knowledge of games (mostly computer games) to motivate herself. Gamification, this is called: using game elements in real life. She made getting better into a game: SuperBetter.
After she recovered, she further developed SuperBetter. She then tested it on many people and most reported seeing positive results in as little as 30 days. The book SuperBetter is a description of the elements of this real life game, and it’s mind-blowing.
The Elements of SuperBetter
I can’t describe the whole game here, obviously, but it consists of these elements:
- Ultimate Goal: the reason you’re playing this game, so what you want to achieve in the end
- PowerUps: small, daily actions that give you a mental or physical boost
- Quests: challenges you set for yourself that will help you get closer to your ultimate goal
- Bad Guys: those people, thoughts, or things that keep you from making progress in reaching your goal
- Allies: the people who are helping you get SuperBetter
- Secret identity: your ‘avatar’ when you play, your secret identity that embodies who you are or want to be
If you’re even remotely familiar with games, you’ll recognize many of these elements from the gaming culture. The idea is to make your ultimate goal into a real-life game, using all these aspects to ‘win’. People have chosen SuperBetter goals like living with a chronic disease, finish a dissertation, losing weight, writing a book, or coping with the loss of a loved one, to name a few.
What fascinated me when I read the book, is the science behind each of these elements. This is not a ‘quick fix’ book that promises perfect results. Instead, the author shows how you can make progress, little by little, step by step. She shows the method, but you still have to do it yourself (with the help of allies). It makes the approach incredibly realistic, and also suitable for many different types of goals.
I started playing SuperBetter on April 1st of this year. After finishing the book I knew that this would work for me. I’m going through some pretty big changes in my personal life at the moment, and I want to get stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. So I took the time to design my own SuperBetter game, incorporating each of these elements. I’ve even come up with a scoring system because I’m competitive that way and want to keep reaching for a new high score.
The results so far are way better than I had dared hope. I’ve become more physically active, have lost weight, have reached out to more friends, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of junk, have done some projects that had been on my to-do list forever, I’ve taken up meditating on a daily basis, and have been more productive than ever before. I also made some tough decisions, but made them with ease, knowing what the right direction was. I am super duper excited about SuperBetter. If you want to read more about my SuperBetter experiences, check out this blog I started called Veronica Rey to write down my progress in SuperBetter.
If you’re even in the least attracted to games, this book could be a life changer. It’s chock full of fun exercises and experiments that will already help you improve your mental, physical, and emotional resilience. The science is solid, but it’s entertaining and inspiring at the same time. Can you tell how excited I am about this book?