Call Me Humbug

This past holiday week, my daughter pleaded with me to play the board game “Life”. I tried to convince her to choose another activity but she persisted, asking why I didn’t want to play. I explained that I don’t like the game because it offers me no autonomy and freedom of choice. My fate is determined by a spinning wheel and random card draws. The wheel decides: my job, what house I live in, whether I marry, and how many children I have.

You’re probably thinking that I’m a little off my rocker…but let’s just say, I have a high need to chart my own course.

In the game, the quality and shape of my life is not determined by my will or actions…just the spinning wheel. Win or lose, I feel like a pawn…and that’s not fun for me.

I could almost sleep through the game. And how often do we sleep through our lives, making choices based on non-conscious programming we’ve developed through our relatives, community, church, teachers or friends? How often do we check in with our beliefs and choices and ask how they’re working for us?

S#*!t Will Happen

It is true that things happen to us–beginning with our birth–that are outside our control:

  • Born into a wealthy, beige-complexioned family? Start fifty steps ahead.
  • Born into a poor, melanin-gifted family? Give every other turn to your beige neighbor.

And regardless of your skin tone and tax bracket, you will get injured. You will get sick. You might get fired. You might get divorced. Bad stuff is gonna happen (Believe me, I know).

Still, our circumstances do not define us; our choices create our reality. And our choices result from our emotional state and our thoughts.

We can blame outside factors and remain victims of fate. Or, we can assume 100% responsibility for our lives (the first ‘Success Principle’ in Jack Canfield’s must-read masterpiece).

Instead of sleepwalking through life, decide what you want to achieve and feel. Then envision it as if it’s real. Then create a plan to get there and take small actions daily. Regularly note your emotional state. If you’re feeling troubling emotions, ask what you want to feel instead. Then ask “What would I need to think and believe in order to feel that way?” Angry at your boss? You could stay angry. Or, you could decide that you want to feel ease and compassion instead. You could think about how stressful it must be to be in a job he’s not prepared to do well. Or you could wonder about his potentially lonely private life. Then, with your newly found peace and empathy, you might decide to get certified as a coach and start your own business (as a random example).

You will get off the path at times. You will get frustrated and experience doubts. But if you remain awake and determined to manage your thoughts, emotions, and actions, you will prevail, no matter what life throws at you.

From Pawn to Player

By the end of the game, when my daughter’s car was piled up with more children than peg holes for them, and she lived in a houseboat, trying to make ends meet as a singer making $50k a year…I think she got a sense of what frustrated me about the game.

To her credit, she let me decide what color car I would travel in, and whether I would have a pink or blue spouse. And she made a junk pile of all the random (soul-destroying) spin cards.

I do so love that amazing child.

Here’s to choosing and living your best (woke) life.

I love you.

“At birth, each of us is handed a lens by our family of origin, our culture, our Zeitgeist, through which to see the world. As it is the only lens we have ever known, we will presume we see reality directly even as we are seeing it colored and distorted. How could we ever choose wisely, when our information is biased, even inaccurate?” – Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: how to Finally Really Grow Up, by James Hollis, Ph.D.

Learn my simple model for upgrading any thought and emotion here.

Originally published at


  • Denise R. Green

    Transformational Executive Coach, Best-Selling Author & Podcaster, Work-Life Brilliance: Tools to Create the Life and Health You Crave

    Brilliance Inc.

    Before founding Brilliance Inc in 2008, Denise held leadership positions at Oracle Corporation and Charles Schwab & Co, Inc. She has helped thousands of corporate humans lower their stress, upgrade their thoughts, and manage themselves so they say yes and no to the right things, and live healthy, fulfilling matter what life throws at them. She is a learner and synthesizer who creates tools to help people make dramatic and lasting shifts in their lives with relative ease. She has made her transformational coaching and tools available online so anyone can upgrade their lives from ordinary to brilliant, and become the best version of themselves. For tools to reduce overwhelm, check out