Gamify Your Reality

Situational Awareness, Body Language & ‘Being Present’

In the world of personal development ‘be present’ is the new ‘be confident’

You hear ‘be present’ repeated by everyone from self help gurus, yoga instructors, public speaking coaches to pickup artists and comedians. Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Tantric practice and even Dual N-Back training can help you practice being present but this article is going to focus on the intersection of being present, body language and situational awareness and how they can be practiced by gamifying your reality.

On a simple level, ‘be present’ means that your thoughts are focused on the here and now as opposed to in the past or future.

The Problem: If you spend the majority of your mental energy planning for the future or analyzing the past, it’s difficult to transition to focusing on the present. While planning for the future and analyzing the past are very important, I’m going to do a bad job of executing on future goals or more importantly enjoying the life I’m working so damn hard for or if my mind is stuck in the past or future. Have you ever found that you couldn’t stop worrying about something that happened at work or thinking about the future when you should have been enjoying yourself with friends or family? This is a failure in being present. I’m also going to do a bad job at maintaining high situational awareness if my mind is perpetually pondering the past or future.

Like most ambitious, busy lifehackers my day to day thoughts are probably focused:

  • Future 50%
  • Present 20%
  • Past 30%

I don’t really want to change these proportions, the objective is to change the flexibility of my mind so I can transition robustly from thinking about the future, past and present. Furthermore when I am present I want to be 100% present, not 80% present and 20% worried about some credit card bill I forgot to pay. This article isn’t here to sell you on the benefits of being present for that read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle or checkout the Youtube channel of Tyler of Real Social Dynamics.

The 2nd Problem: Most of the ways that people practice ‘being present’ are time consuming and not very much ‘fun’. It takes pretty world class discipline to consistently meditate for 20 minutes daily or train with a Dual N-Back App for 20 minutes daily.

The Solution: Gameify your reality, constantly play these games in your head to prompt increased situational awareness, social awareness and being present.

Situational Awareness

For people who have jobs like being a police officer, soldier or security guard situational awareness is askill setthat their lives depend on, for the rest of us it’s a way to improve social savvy, build a more robust memory and promote Nueroplasticity.

The James Bond Game

When you walk into a room that is going to be social experience ask yourself: what would Bond would do?

  • Identify the windows you could jump out of.
  • What objects in the environment could you use as a weapon if you needed to.
  • If you weere going to assassinate someone in this room how would you do it and how would you get away with it?

Find a Victim

When you walk into a public place imagine that you are a criminal, a professional mugger who is going to try to shake someone down for cash. Out of a crowd pick a victim fast, instead of being really analytical about it just pick someone intuitively. Then analyze why you picked this person, it’s usually a combination of:

  • Their physical size.
  • How much attention they are paying to the environment.
  • If they are alone.
  • If they look like a worthwhile target (wearing nice clothing, carrying in a nice phone, etc).

Sex Positions

If you weere going to have sex in this room, where would you do it? Which position?

Drug Smuggler Game

When traveling or I’m going through an airport I sometimes imagine that I’m a drug smuggler:

  • Where would I keep my drugs (on my person or in my baggage).
  • Where would I run if I where caught.
  • How can I be disarmingly friendly to security guards and airport employees?

It might not be a good idea to play this game while being questioned by the TSA in the Miami airport but it can sure make waiting at a bus station or on a domestic flight more interesting.

The Car Race Game

When I’m driving I imagine what if another car started chasing me and trying to run me off the road.

  • Where in traffic would I swerve to avoid them.
  • Which off ramps or side roads routes could I take to avoid them.

Since traffic changes so often I play this game every 30–60 seconds, this game could actually save your life as it increases your situational awareness of what’s happening on the road.

Snap Shot

When you start talking to someone take a ‘mental snapshot’ of them where you note their:

  • Upper body clothing.
  • Lower body clothing.
  • Shoes.
  • Any accessory items.
  • Hairstyle.
  • Cleanliness (of clothing, shoes, hair, teeth)

This mental snapshot should entail a one or two second glance up and down their entire body then focus on what they are saying.

Listen for an Assassin

If you are alone in a room with your back to the door imagine that an assassin is going to sneak in and try to kill you, try to listen up, be extra sensitive to sounds of people moving into and out of the room.

Start a fight

If you are talking to a person, imagine if you where to physically assault them. What would you do? A punch, a kick, an elbow? This prompts you to be more aware of people’s body language.

Body Language Auditing

Our body language and micro expressions seriously affect the way we feel, perform and are perceived by others. If I catch myself doing a negative body language expression I will intentionally replace it with a positive body language expression.

Bad Body Language

Good Body Language

I try to do the positive body language expression for 10X the time I did the negative body language expression, if I itch behind my neck for 2 for seconds then I need to smile for 20 seconds.

What Would an Evil Villain Do?

When facing a challenge or situation that is at all political ask yourself: How would an evil villain deal with this situation?

  • What would Darth Vader do in a morning sales meeting?
  • How would Rasputin deal with his messy roommate?
  • What would The Joker do at a family reunion?

In addition to being just plain being fun, imagining what an evil person would do gives you practice with ethical development and thought compartmentalization, more on this below.

Dream State Detection

As nocturnal adventurer aka vivid, lucid dreamer I try to detect when I am dreaming so I can actively architect my dream environment. The ‘reality testing’ methods that lucid dreamers employ are great practice for increasing situational awareness and being present. By nature the mind doesn’t want you to recognize when you are dreaming, so it’s important to pay extra attention to a few things:

  • Fine print, is very unpredictable in dreams, a lot of times it’s unreadable or blurry, or if you read it once then look away and read it again it will have changed. This is one of the most consistent ways of detecting a dream state. Some people wear digital watches to check this, I prefer to just look at my smartphone.
  • Center of gravity, since your physical legs don’t move while you are walking around in a dream you are essentially floating. For this reason I pay attention to my center of gravity changing while I walk. If my center of gravity is floating or too smooth then I may be dreaming.
  • Dissociated dialog that doesn’t correct itself, frequently conversations you have with your dream’s characters will be nonsensicaland unassociated with what’s going on in the environment. Dream characters will be angry at you for no reason, or they will insist on talking about something mundane while something crazy is happening or they will repeat something inane. Conversations with dream characters are generally emotionally flat, meaning that if the conversation begins angry it doesn’t change to peaceful. How does this vary from the real world? In real life people make absurd statements all the time, however they usually promptly correct those statements or associate them back to reality so they are not thought foolish.
  • Flying from doorways, in dreams you can frequently will yourself to fly, it’s actually one of the coolest things about lucid dreaming. One of the ways I reality check is that whenever I walk through a doorway, I imagine for a moment, that I’m going to fly to where ever my destination is. If I’m dreaming I usually start flying at that point, which is a pretty dead give away that I’m not awake.
  • Light switches, don’t work in dreams as it’s usually impossible to change the ambient light level in dreams. I make it a habit to hit the light switch whenever I enter or exit a room (a good habit for waking reality to save on the electricity bill!)

Wow, wow you’re saying: I thought the purpose of ‘being present’ was to really listen and connect to people and be in a state where I can better ‘soak in’ what’s happening around me. You describing a bunch of flights of fantasy and pretending to be someone I’m not. How does this help? These games are not done continually, you do them for a moment and then focus back on what you doing. The games take anywhere from half a second to 30 seconds to play and they don’t require your complete attention.

How often should I gameify reality? You don’t want to gamify reality all the time because, you wouldn’t get anything done!

  • When you first get started 1 per hour.
  • Then add one game per day whenever you notice to do it.

Eventually when you have this fully integrated as a mindfulness practice you will probably do it every couple of minutes.

BenefitPersonality Enrichment:

One of the disadvantages of the lifehacker lifestyle is that over time focusing exclusively on making life more efficient can make you a boring person. If you spend 40–50 hours weekly working (very efficiently we presume!) and are constantly focused on getting the maximum bang for your buck out of your remaining time, it mentally crowds out the playful, fun side of your personality. Playing mental games, like those above trains your mind to robustly switch between serious ‘efficient’ problem solving modes and creative states.

BenefitPractice of Thought Compartmentalization:

One of the the objectives of personal development should be to become more observant of our thoughts, the opposite of this is someone who feels 100% of their thoughts; this person is their thoughts and their life is an emotional roller coaster that they are out of control of. They are a slave to what feels right at the moment. As a little more evolved individual, we should have the ability to put our thoughts in a ‘glass box’, once our thoughts are in a glass box we have a couple options:

  • We can analyze that thought from outside of the glass box.
  • We can leave it there and return to analyze it later.
  • We can say ‘that’s just a thought’, ignore it and let the thought die.

The games suggested above are an excellent opportunity to practice thought compartmentalization aka ‘glass boxing’. Since a lot of the thoughts that these games generate are absurd, useless or will be totally out of character for you, they make great specimens to be put in a glass box. As you get in the habit of doing this you will start ‘glass boxing’ your other thoughts and will end up being a more objective observer of your reality.

In the comments below let me know how you gamify your day to day life…

This website has +400 pages of information demystifying Lifehacking, Biohacking and Smart Drugsthat’s kind of an overwhelming amount of information. As soon as you join the Limitless Mindset Community (It’s free!) we give you instant access to an interactive infographic which visually breaks the widely disparate topics we cover in exhaustively in our articles, videos and podcasts.

Originally published at

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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