Brutalist Framework

Flappy Bird Life Lessons

what I learned over the years

March 1, 2018

Flappy Bird destroys lives.

But, not mine. I got lucky. I was able to learn the life lessons of Flappy Bird. It's dangerous to play without learning them! Fear, pain, and suffering can consume you leaving your soul shattered in pieces. Serious.

I never expected Flappy Bird to be my teacher

Who would. On the surface the game looks like a frivolous distraction for little children: cute pixel art, bright cheery colors, and a friendly protagonist you control by the one and only thing you can do: tap the screen. But underneath the surface there's more. A whole lot more. And... I'm finally ready to share the life lessons Flappy Bird has taught me.

The 10 Lessons of Flappy Bird

1. Overcoming fear of failure

You're dead. Welcome to Flappy Bird. Get used to it. That's right life, death and starting over are business as usual. Too often in life we have one shot, one opportunity to accomplish something and succeed. If we fail at that one thing, we could end up a failure in life. Flappy Bird teaches you that's crazy talk. You'll quickly understand failure is but an illusion, a trivial experience to learn from and start fresh with new found knowledge.

2. Patience: be frustrated at nothing but frustration itself

Although the game initially makes you rage like there's no tomorrow, you soon learn to regulate and overcome negative emotions.

3. Mastering inner joy

After learning to control negative emotions, you realize elated emotions are also judgements, annoying distractions from peak performance.

4. Acheiving Zen: become the bird and nonjudgmental awareness

You realize the bird is smiling at you, can only do one thing, flap, and you find peace in that. Similarly you are alive and can only do one thing, live, and that brings to you a Zen-fully comforting and relaxing inward smile.

5. Outcome independence

You begin to see the lure of a high score for what it truely is: arbitary, irrelevant and a false idol. At first you feel cheated. But with practice you learn to not focus on the outcome, to not obsess over the ending. That's because you find out no matter how far you get there's no next level, not a condition in which you can beat the game, there's not even a "your princess is in another castle" scenario. The outcome of playing Flappy Bird is a simple singular death, and it's gonna be by smashing into the ground or a pipe.

6. Focus on the goal, the happy path, not the obstacles

Initially, I thought Flappy Bird was about focusing on avoid pipes. It took weeks until I realized I had been focusing on what I want to avoid, instead of where I want to go. If you are driving a car and only look at things you don't want to crash into and never look at the road, where you want to go, you'll have a worse driving experience. And generally with life, you'll get better outcomes when you focus on what you want to happen, rather than the opposite.

7. Entering Flow, Wired In, Total Immersion and Intential Focus

I realized peak performance increases the quality of the experience. And in a strange way provides a sense of validation and meaning where before I would often be consumed with dark nihilistic feelings.

8. It's about the journey, not the destination

Eventually I realized playing Flappy Bird is all about the simple act of flappying. And the more this became true for me, the more I came to appreciate the flap. It's about flapping! And whether flappy around boldly, daringly, or ackwardly it doesn't matter, because you are flapping!

9. Radical acceptance

One day it hit me. Each previous moment of the game was preparing me for the next moment, and the current game soon becomes the last game, future games the present games. That's when I understood "radical acceptance". I realized I never did anything wrong. That crash into the ground the first time I played was perfect. Every time I played was perfect. I currently am perfect. And any time I play in the future will be perfect as well.

10. The Meaning of Life

One lesson leads to the next, and the amalgamation of these life lessons answers an age old question: What is the Meaning of Life? In the context of Flappy Bird it is "to flap" and so in life, it is "to live."