Playing the Contrarian Game (Part One)

Welcome to the Contrarian Game (free ranger edition). The objective of this game is to become a contrarian. The game requires no software, web services or physical devices. You can play this game with people in your life or in your blog reader. You can stop the game anytime or change your strategy whenever you desire. The game begins with you in the role of a curmudgeon. The character on the right is your brain thinking curmudgeon thoughts. The characters on the left are your brain after you win this game. Get the picture?

The first challenge is easy -- to get you oriented and confident in your ability to play this game. Look around your life for some people who are acting naive, simple minded, unrealistic or wishful. Get provoked by their ignorance. Become opinionated, preachy and self righteous as you set the people straight, show them the error of their ways or deliver some expert content that makes them better informed. When you've completed this step, you can advance to the next level.

The next challenge is to think about what just happened. You need to be careful not to take responsibility, accept blame or consider the effects of what you've done. You need to think about those simpletons who provoked you in a way that justifies your outburst and outlook. When you've thought a lot about their simple mindedness, naivete and lack of realism, you can advance to the next level.

You are now ready to commit to a cognitive strategy to ensure your continued success. By locking into a routine way of thinking, you will free up your mind for more alarming, threatening and unfamiliar entries into your world. All you need to do at this level to move on -- is accept the obvious advantages of adopting a consistent cognitive strategy.

The cognitive strategy available at this next level of the game is called: oppositional thinking. Check it out and see if it works for you. When you see someone thinking positively, react with your own negativity about disadvantages, dangers and expected disappointments . When you see someone thinking negatively, react with positive thinking about advantages, opportunities and likely progress. When you've completed your test drive of this strategy, you can advance to the next level.

You now have a choice (it's a slightly branched story). You can elect to adopt oppositional thinking as your success strategy or choose another strategy that is available at this level. When you've made your choice, you can move to the next level.

If you selected another strategy, you become simple-minded. You rely on a reactive positive cognitive strategy. You think positive thoughts about people's positive thinking. You think negatively about people's negativity. You are hounded by curmudgeons who oppose your naivete. The game is over - play again?

If you selected the oppositional cognitive strategy, you advance to the next level. (to be continued)


  1. This post really made me think. I see these roles and strategies played out at work every day.

  2. Love it, Tom. I know a lot of people who are very well in touch with their inner curmudgeon. This sounds like a "fun" game. Can't wait to read round 2.

  3. Good post (#2 as well).

    Long ago, I found great solace in these words from Will Rogers: "A man is about as happy as he makes his mind up to be." (paraphrase)

  4. Kevin,Tim and Roger
    Thanks for the great comments.