Monday, July 16, 2012

Gaming, Willpower, & Davening

I hear that one of the biggest reasons that people don't daven more is that there just isn't enough time.  Who doesn't wish that they could have few extra 'bonus' hours in the day to sleep, read, relax or get work done.

I recently watched a TED talk by Jane McGonigal titled The Game that Can Give you Extra Ten Years of Life in which she discusses how her background in gaming, research in psychology, and recent illness brought her to a discovery of how to lengthen one's own lifespan.

The lecture is interesting and engaging and my motivation in sharing this speech was McGonigal's comment that "willpower works like a muscle; it gets stronger the more you exercise it".  Isn't this one of the basic tenets of teaching?  When I think of my personal davening habits, I often conceptualize it as a type of spiritual fitness.

One final teaser for those that haven't been convinced to take the 19 minute plunge, McGonigal explores the concept of post-traumatic growth, a psychological concept that often gets overshadowed by post-traumatic stress syndrome.  "Is there a way to get all the benefits post traumatic growth without the trauma - without hitting your head in the first place?" McGonigal asks.  She explores four kinds of strengths or resilience that contribute to post-traumatic growth - and shares exercises that you can practice (many of which are part of our normal tefilla experience).  One example is her advice to "not sit still" - seems like a good prooftext for shuckling (rocking in prayer)! 

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