A few years back, the Collection Development team here at CLP began sharing what we call “SuperBetter Moments.” The idea came from a TED talk by game designer Jane McGonigal.
In the video, McGonigal shares the story of creating SuperBetter, a game intended to help people overcome challenges, build resilience and increase happiness. With over seven million views (and a subsequent bestselling book), there’s a good chance you already know about her work, her story, and her SuperBetter game, but in these challenging times it seems worth (re)discovering.
Here’s a very condensed version of how SuperBetter came to be. After suffering a major concussion, McGonigal was confined to bed rest, with strict rules and limitations on what she could and could not do. In a nutshell: not much.
As she spiraled into despair, depression, and anxiety she realized she needed to take action. Focusing on her strengths, skills, and interests, she decided to gamify her recovery and become “Jane the Concussion Slayer.” She asked her family and friends to become her allies by helping her identify ways she could “power up.”
Her power-ups were small things she could do to add joy and help her feel stronger and happier. Things like cuddling with her dog for ten minutes or taking a short walk. She discovered that as soon as she started playing the game her suffering stopped. Her symptoms didn’t disappear, her pain didn’t go away, but they no longer ruled her life.
As she recovered (and did a lot of research), she realized that her simple game could help anyone improve their health and well-being, whether they were facing a challenge or not, and SuperBetter was born. In a nutshell, the game helps to build physical, mental, emotional, and social resilience.
My team and I aren’t really gamers, but we were all really drawn to one idea in particular. McGonigal talks about the 3-to-1 positive emotion ratio, which states that if we experience three positive emotions for every one negative emotion over the course of any time period (an hour, a day, a week), we will increase our health and ability to successfully tackle any problem we are facing. And thus, our “SuperBetter Moments” were born.
For us, this often takes the form of sharing a funny video or article, an adorable pet photo (our own or those of others). Or we take a break to see how many answers we can get on a couple of Book Lover’s Trivial Pursuit cards (it’s hard, y’all!). We’ve found these shared experiences to be a helpful way to connect and support one another, two things I think we can all use a lot of right now.
As the people who select many of the things you can borrow from the Library, we like to think you can find plenty of options that help make you and your allies’ days super better. Maybe it’s a sports or movie trivia book from Hoopla, a laugh out loud book to read or listen to, a stand-up comedy special to watch, or the meditative art journaling course in CreativeBug.
Whatever challenges you are facing, the Library is here to help you find your very own “power-ups.”