Or — How I used FarmVille to change my mind.
By Cathleen Hulbert
(A mutual friend, Julie Herron Carson, recently introduced me to Cathy through this blog post. I could tell we were kindred spirits, playing with the sometimes challenging task of staying positive. I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.)
For those of you who use Facebook, it might interest you to know that FarmVille is now the most popular application on this social networking site. A million people use it. Some pay actual money to get things for their farms. But you don’t have to.
I love Facebook but I resisted this game for a time. After all, I am busy with “important things” (or Important Things as it would be said in the books of Pooh). I am a healthcare social worker, a slayer of dragons and a writer. No time to waste, says the adult side of me. But I do have a lively inner child. And there is a very bright, active 9-year-old in my house. Games are played with a positive purpose, computer games included. Fun is an absolute requirement before bedtime, particularly on stressful days. We became neighbors on FarmVille, exchanging tips and stories about how things were going on our farms. It was fun chewing the fat with this kid I adore and sharing our thoughts about farming. That is how all of this began for me.
So a typical FarmVille spread includes these things: Horses, cows, chickens, goats, pigs and maybe a circus elephant thrown in for fun. Crops are a staple. That’s the main point of the game, the planting and harvesting of crops. Farm bling and buildings are present on the typical virtual farm. They include toys such as benches, hay, wheelbarrows, a toolshed, a workshop, a covered rest tent with a little drink inside, wagons and even houses, all of which can be bought at the marketplace with points that you earn for being a good farmer. When it’s time to do something productive and farm-like to one of the cute animals, say milking it or collecting its eggs, they actually get a little halo to tell you they need some attention.
It’s sweet, really. Can you imagine your spouse and your children getting a halo when they needed some attention? It sure beats sprouting horns.
Anyway, the point of this blog is that I have noticed a highly positive shift in my life experiences since I started playing FarmVille. No, I have not lost my mind. And no, I’m not being paid by the FarmVille designers to say this. If I knew how to actually reach them I would complain about the fact that there are no Farmville cats and dogs. Why are their elephants, but not dogs? But I digress.
There are different types of crops from which to choose. You can create your own crop shapes (not necessarily crop circles, but something like it), choosing symbols that mean something to you. The T-shape is the Mayan symbol for spirit. That’s one of the symbols on my farm.
So I started thinking. What if playing FarmVille could play into my not-evil plan to change my negative thoughts into positive ones? And what if my time management skills came into play, allowing me to accomplish “meditate daily,” “radically change your outlook on life” and “have some good, clean fun” all in one simple little game? The wheels started to turn as I calculated the time-saving benefits of playing FarmVille.
Soon I had jotted down some little mantras to go with each crop that I planted and harvested. I say them to myself while I work on the farm a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the evening.
Most of my mantras are about planting and harvesting, but when I’m tending to the animals I see them as book agents producing fantastic results for me. Eggs are contract offers in this little mind game. Milk hasn’t been assigned yet, but I’m still thinking about it. Trees get fruit that has to be harvested, and while I’m working on the trees I repeat to myself that I am standing tall in the world. Pumpkins equal “abundance of good things.” The grapes are “grapes of laugh.” When I plant cotton I’m thinking about “cotton-pickin’ fun with all of the success in my life.” When I’m harvesting those cute purple eggplants I’m thinking about “egg-citing things coming my way!”
Pineapples allow me to say over and over, “Hawaii, here I come.” This is relevant because my novel takes place in Hawaii. While I’m thinking positively, I see myself spending more time in that lovely place when my book becomes a screenplay then becomes a movie. Hay, it’s going to happen.
When I’m harvesting those strawberries, I know that I will be berry happy when I realize how blessed I am. I have not yet reached the mastery level that allows me to plant corn, and many of you might be thinking that there already is plenty of corn here. It’s okay. I have to be this way sometimes. It helps restore balance to my universe.
So when the aloe vera blossoms show up, I say over and over that all is very well, or “aloe vera well” if I feel resistance and want to sneak one past my subconscious. If you do this enough, your subconscious mind resists less and less and actually seems to get into it. At least mine has.
Therefore, I just know it, deep in my heart, that FarmVille is one of the reasons that I have started experiencing incredibly wonderful things. In fact, wonderful things seem to be lining up, like rows and rows of crops, to manifest in my life. (No agents are waiting to be milked, but I’m still working on that one.)
There’s nothing magic about it. What is magical is that I found a way to change my way of thinking with a simple little game. I must have been really ready.
Skeptical? Squash those thoughts and have fun. Have some grapes of laugh. Pig out on joy. Horse around for the heck of it. And plant your dreams in fertile ground: the happy playground of the mind.
Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in the healthcare field and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She also is the author of “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination,” a time-travel tale about love, forgiveness and redemption. She lives in Roswell, GA. For more information about the author and the book, go to www.cathleenhulbert.com.