Lowering the Intensity

A part of the Overcoming Negativity series.

Let’s illustrate this concept with an example.

So there I am, Ryu versus Ryu (Street Fight II Turbo). After a relatively easy victory against Dhalsim, I’m on to the second match: “Japaaan!” But no matter what I did, I couldn’t defeat him. He was my mirror image, yet he was better in every way. “Fight!” “Ha-do-ken!…Ha-do-ken!” Fireball after fireball came at me — and when I got rocked, he closed the gap to finish with a Shotokan-style throw. No matter how many times I pressed “Continue”, I couldn’t get passed him.

While you were partying, I studied the Ha-do-ken. I’m no noob by the way, I studied the moves. Down, down-right, right + punch! “Ha-do-ken!” Boom, fireball. I can perform the Sho-ryu-ken (Dragon Punch) and even the Hurricane Kick. Maybe I’m just too slow against a computer, maybe I buckle under pressure, I dunno. But then my son, my dearest little boy wanted in on the action. I told him of my failure and he vowed to avenge his father.

His favorite character is M. Bison, and he used him to easily defeat Dhalsim, just like dad. But when he got to Ryu, it was the same story all over again. No matter what he did, no matter which character he continued with, he couldn’t get passed Ryu either. I told him he better throw in the towel for now — it just wasn’t going to happen today and it’ll only lead to frustration. He listened like the good boy that he is. Well, at least for a few minutes.

I was in the kitchen and heard him say, “Hey dad! I’m doing a lot better now!”. I go check it out. He tells me how he went into “Options” and turned down the “Difficulty” setting to as low as it could go. Suddenly he’s breezing through every opponent in the roster — even Ryu. He ended up beating the game and was proud of himself for doing so. He went from being mired in frustration, to feeling like a champ. There’s a good lesson there, and it’s this:

If something is too tough, stop, you’re only going to make yourself angry — then simply take an easier route. That’s it. And that’s exactly what this Overcoming Negativity series is about: lessening the intensity of life. Life can be as hard or easy as you make it. If you’re a masochist and you want a tough life, all you have to do is focus on negativity, let pessimism be your prevailing philosophy — and boom, life becomes a hellish nightmare of continuous fireballs flying at your face.

As a player in the game of life, you definitely want obstacles, but not insurmountable ones. Ultimately, whatever you jump over doesn’t matter, those hurdles contain the significance you grant them. In my case, I stubbornly believed that Ryu needed to be defeated at the default difficulty level. I was wrong. Once we cease our stubbornness, we can go from loser to champion simply by selecting an intensity that’s more rewarding. And in fact, I just turned down the difficulty level and beat Street Fighter II using Ryu — it works, I feel great. “You win!”