10 Life Lessons Learned From D&D
1. USE YOUR IMAGINATION
As adults, we often get so caught up in our daily responsibilities that we either lose sight of or completely forget our childlike sense of wonder. I had mentioned in a previous post how D&D provides a unique creative outlet for anyone interested in self-discovery. There is no limit on what the imagination can create.
Collaborating with other individuals who have different perspectives than you will often spark your creativity. This collaborative creative process can open your mind to new possibilities you had never even imagined or considered before. You might even learn some invaluable life lessons along the way of your journey.
“The power of imagination makes us infinite.” -John Muir
2. BE A TEAM PLAYER
It isn’t always about being the hero and focusing solely on your own personal success, but rather (and more importantly) knowing when to set your teammate up for an epic moment as well. D&D represents the epitome of a team coming together to solve a problem or complete an objective. Each individual reason may vary, but the team as a whole is stronger together and perhaps even better for having known one another.
Within this group of teammates, each person possesses an invaluable role. One which if they were not present the group as a whole would suffer or even perish as a result. You form a sort of symbiotic relationship where you rely on the uniquely specialized skills and talents of each member to carry everyone forward.
A successful D&D group requires mindfulness, empathy, and compassion. Understanding that your time to shine is equally as important as every other individual who is a part of the team. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses while acknowledging that certain areas may not be your strong suit (because someone else may excel in that area). Playing D&D is a collaborative effort that ensures everyone is successful to the best of their abilities.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” -Ryunosuke Satoro
3. FAILURE IS NOT FOREVER
Do not be afraid to try, even if you don’t succeed right away. Let’s face it, we all roll our fair share of natural 1’s in life. But that’s okay. Never give up hope or compromise your dreams for a lesser version of yourself. You will find that going out on a limb is well worth the reward in the end. Not to mention, you are accompanied by a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you have put 100% of your energy towards attaining your goals.
D&D and life are not always about winning and being successful at everything. Sometimes, how you react to failure can be what defines you. Make the most of your shortcomings. Success is also determined by the way you learn from your mistakes and evolve as a character, player, and ultimately as a person.
4. EMBRACE CHANGE
This concept can be very difficult for individuals who are accustomed to a structured and orderly way of life. To let go of everything you have known and what is beyond your control can be both humbling and unsettling. This was probably the most challenging notion for me personally, which is why I chose to create a character who embraced change and the unknown. It represents the core values of the deity I selected for my Tempest Cleric. The dogma states:
“Seek not to hold that which is ever-changing, but instead love the change itself.” -Deep Sashelas
Whether by choice or simply with time, everything eventually changes. Rather than fighting it, why not embrace change and learn to evolve instead? Spontaneity can lead to wonderful outcomes if we only allow ourselves to break away from our comfort zones and regular routines. Who knows what awe-inspiring adventures await us beyond the horizon.
5. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
In a previous blog post, I mentioned how challenging yourself both physically and mentally will set you up for success. Life is always more fulfilling and rewarding when you motivate yourself towards achieving a goal. Ask yourself every day, “How can I do this better?”
There are always improvements to be made, regardless of how successful you have been or how far you have come in life. You will never know the extent of your achievements until you push yourself beyond your limits. Surrounding yourself with individuals who help to challenge and inspire you is extremely beneficial as well. When you challenge yourself, you are opening the door for endless opportunities and priceless possibilities.
6. CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES
No matter how great or seemingly small, the decisions that you make will affect not only your life but others’ lives as well. Good intentions only go so far. Consider who will benefit from your choices and also who may suffer as a result. Weighing the pros and cons of a decision in advance is always intelligent.
Be mindful of your actions. Put thought into what you say and do before it becomes turned to stone — unless of course you have a greater restoration on hand. You have the power to change the world. Use it wisely.
7. NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER
This expression reigns true not only in D&D but in everyday life as well. Far too often we have preconceived notions regarding certain races, religions, or cultures that may differ from our own. This skewed form of bias in turn can distort our perspective on reality. We tend to fear what we do not understand.
For instance, in the D&D setting, Tieflings get a bad rap because they are associated with devils. Therefore people usually tend to either fear, hate, or distrust them. However, I played in a campaign with a Tiefling Sorcerer who was probably the most compassionate and humane member of the group. In contrast, our heroic and brave Paladin leader whom we all followed and trusted, turned out to have an evil self-serving agenda. We never fully knew about his deception until later in the campaign.
People have hidden depths that we may not be aware of, for good or ill. Consider this before making quick judgments and assumptions based solely on what you think you know. Discover the truth for yourself. Over time, your actions and deeds will dictate who you are.
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”Jiddu Krishnamurti
8. IMPLEMENT CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
As satisfying as it is to destroy your enemies in D&D through brute force and battle tactics, I found that it is even more rewarding to outsmart them by using nonviolent acts and spells to resolve conflict instead. During an earlier campaign, our party encountered a combat scenario. I was playing a Cleric at the time, so I decided to use the calm emotions spell on the “enemies” that were about to attack us. My spell succeeded and bought us enough time for one of the more charismatic members of our party to explain our business to them.
After some discussion, both parties realized that we were not enemies after all. Furthermore, each side was protecting something that they valued. So instead of killing each other, we gained an alliance. Win, win! D&D is at its core a team building game through the use of collaborative and creative ways to resolve problems together. Everyone has a unique set of skills and abilities to offer. Working cohesively while finding the less obvious solution together is the most fulfilling method of success.
9. BE GRATEFUL & FORGIVE
There is nothing more self-harming than harboring anger and resentment towards someone in the form of a grudge. Both D&D and life can be filled with our share of tragic backstories, disagreements, and unfortunate events. For whatever reason, although it may not be easy at first, keep in mind that nothing is worth compromising your inner peace. You must be truthful with others and yourself. There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness. Upon letting go, you will be free.
Sometimes life can be as unpredictable as rolling dice. After you learn to make peace with the past, you will be able to fully appreciate all of the positivity that surrounds you. Laugh at yourself and learn from your mistakes. Enjoy the journey and experiences with your chosen companions along the way.
10. TAKE RISKS
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” -Albert Einstein
Taking risks is simple, right? Maybe it’s more difficult for some of us to commit to trying something different when we have grown comfortable with what is expected. Having a strong support system can help tremendously. I believe that the individuals whom you join forces with are equally important to the overall experience of D&D as a whole. The same is to be said for life. If your trusted companions support your decision to take a risk, regardless of the result, your overall experience will be richer.
Every decision that each individual makes has a direct influence on the narrative, which ends up affecting the rest of the party as well. Sometimes the foiled plans, fiascos, and what we do to resolve these situations end up being the most exciting and memorable moments of the entire campaign. Similarly in life, we will never know our full potential and our capacity to succeed if we do not allow ourselves to take risks in the first place. It will be that much sweeter when you get a natural 20. Roll the dice!
If you are interested in learning more, check out my former DM MrRhexx for a wealth of detailed, in-depth knowledge and lore on every topic related to D&D.