Gamification, a Tool to Beat Depression

A kid playing Donkey Kong Arcade
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a certain word that grabbed my interest (and is still keeping it) that I didn’t know about but in a certain way already had used throughout my life.

I’m talking about “Gamification” which on a simple definition is just the “action to game” something.

Nowadays is very well used among online marketers in ads for us to engage in playing some sort of game so they can redirect us to the webpage and download what they are promoting there (which ironically tends to be an app for a game).

A clear and easy way to use a form of gamification is when we create a scoring system around the completion of certain activities to ensure we achieve some sort of bigger goal.

Let’s see it from another perspective.

By using educational gamification a teacher can use elements of a game to teach students while maintaining an improved sense of enjoyment and hence the engagement and learning/teaching experience will be more smooth and effective.

How to Beat Depression by Using Gamification

Beating depression is not something we can do “accidentally”, we cannot just go with our lives “BAU” expecting that in one day depression will just disappear (that’s pretty obvious, right?)

What is not so obvious is how to battle that depression if we cannot fully trust our minds.

I mean, where would we start? What can we do?

Being honest, I’m not an expert in using this tool of gamification but at least I know where you could start using it to stack the table in your favor against depression.

The one thing I would recomend is to use a list of the things you need to do in a day (and/or week) and assign some fair points to the tasks.

I’ve written about how to use lists before, you can go and check it out here:

Once you start rolling the days completing at least the bare minimum you could add some more difficult tasks to the list that can have (though little) a meaningful and positive impact in your life over time.

Doing it like this will like beating the game… the game or recovering back your life from the claws of depression.

Conclusion

There are more things to know about gamification and this technique (or way of thinking) is very deep. And I know this can sound too simple to use and be considered something effective to fight depression, but in fact, the way to apply gamification is very simple and I truly believe in making things simpler to understand.

Depression is not something that you can defeat overnight, it is well known that time will be necessary to heal this condition and improve your life, that’s why I think using gamification as a way to see this fight like a game you can win, could create a new perspective on how to deal with depression and lastly to succeed in the game.

Why Motivation Can’t Beat Depression

Motivation can beat depression any time and any day. Period!

I haven’t misspelled it. I know what it’s written in the tittle, and surely you will find this to be contradictory. Please, bear with me while I expose my case!

Let’s understand first what motivation is:

Motive + Action = Motivation

By definition from the most renown world-wide-web dictionary (google) 😉
is a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.

Motivation is (with my own words) the “why” we take action toward certain things. Plain and simple.

Divided by its nature. There are two kinds of motivation; one is intrinsic and the other is extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is the one that comes from the outside. An external factor that can create undesirable or desirable conditions for us to do something, or avoid doing something.

“If you don’t eat your vegetables I’ll be mad with you”

“Go to that party and you’ll be grounded younglady!”

“Not going to my job today and I might get fired, better to get dressed”

Intrinsic motivation is the one coming from the inside. An internal incentive that propel us to do something.

Take this quote from Steve Jobs as way to understand it better.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli from Pexels

Quick fact! When we generally speak about motivation we are talking about intrinsic motivation.

Quick fact #2! When I wrote about how to cure depression with motivation I didn’t know that I was actually talking about intrinsic motivation.

But the question still hasn’t been addressed, can motivation beat depression?

Well… Yes & No.

I know, I know, let me explain…

Extrinsic motivation which we will identify better if we call it fame, peer approval, money, etc. CAN’T beat depression.

The reason for this might be related with all of this serving a purpose outside of the realm of ourselves. We cannot manage what others may think of us, identify ourselves with that approval and then expect we are going to be at our best.

Same principle apply to money, if we don’t have “enough” or if we lose a lot of money, we then perceive ourselves to be a failure.

Living with extrinsic motivation not only can’t help us to fight depression, it also creates the perfect recipe for having a life full of misery, anxiety, gloom and desolation.

On the other hand Intrinsic motivation which we recognize better as fulfillment, accomplishment, purpose, mastery, etc. CAN beat depression.

The big difference here (you might have guessed already) is that it operates within the realm of ourselves. We have control of what we can try to achieve and after trying our best to achieve something (no matter how small or big) we identify ourselves to be more successful.

A new question has arisen!

How can we use intrinsic motivation to win the battle against depression?

Discipline is key!

Doing our best and keep committed to fight every single day for what we want to accomplish.

Basically, that novel won’t get finished if you don’t sit down to write at least a few paragraphs everyday.

Six-pack abs are the result of sooo much exercise. Not by being content without the workout and sacrifice.

Fulfillment and wealthiness (not same as money) won’t come to you if you don’t put the necessary work to earn it.

Happiness is also something that we need to strive for, and even defend sometimes.

If we want to achieve something in life, we need to understand that in spite of not having the feeling to motivate ourselves of doing something, the best thing to do is start doing it anyways, without waiting for the motivation to come to us.

Keep doing it every day and eventually (with intrinsic values in mind and heart) the motivation will incubate and hatch inside you.

Last thing I’d love to say is:

Go and live your life with the values of intrinsic motivation, and I bet one day you will beat your depression!

Isandy D. Sanchez