Turning Chaos Into Order
If you’re like us, you’re probably feeling more than a little anxious these days. There’s the political circus, of course, but there’s also an ailing parent, the youngest child’s college apps, property taxes, even the dog is pacing around the room at night, the click-click-click of doggy nails on hardwood floors keeping time with racing human hearts. Plus, I’m worried I’m sprouting a beard.
How to put a seemingly out of control world back into order?
We’re taking writer Maani Singh’s advice in a recent NPR story to play an old school round of Tetris to help calm the mind. Bet we can’t play just one.
And there’s research to back it up. Kate Sweeney, a psychologist at The University of California, Riverside, conducted a study that found “Tetris can ease us through periods of anxiety by getting us to a blissfully engrossed mental state that psychologists call “flow."
"The state of flow is one where you're completely absorbed or engaged in some kind of activity," Sweeny explains. "You lose your self-awareness, and time is just flying by.”
But playing video games isn’t the only way to get there. You can arrive at the state of flow through yoga, mountain biking, painting, puzzles, anything that “grabs your attention and doesn’t let it go,” according to Elizabeth Dunn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who studies happiness.
But, really, what could be more satisfying than herding those random little blocks of “tetraminos” into orderly rows of 10, anticipating their demise in a tidy poof of oblivion off the screen and out of your life?
Order restored! Until, of course, the next challenge comes along and rears its ugly blockhead.
According to the Soviet inventor of Tetris himself, Alexey Pajitnov, in an article by Mary Pilon in The Cut, “Tetris fulfills a very simple need. We all have a natural desire to create order out of chaos. The game of Tetris satisfies that desire on a very basic level.”
As Pajitnov says, Tetris is “simple to learn, but very hard to master.” There is no end game other than to keep on fitting blocks into other blocks.
The focus is on the process, rather than the result. And isn’t that the key to happiness, after all?
Play Tetris for free online now.
And tell us in the comments below what you do to get into a state of flow?