UNO and the Path to Self-Understanding

No serious pursuit of UNO can be undertaken without an analysis of one's self. Through the lens of self-observation, one can see the underpinnings of attitude and approach, the two key principles of self-awareness.

Attitude: Staying in Control of Yourself

Mindfulness is the seventh element of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is also critical to keeping in tune with your own reactions. Envision yourself drawing the twenty-first card in a twenty-eight card streak of unplayable cards. Anger, frustration, hopelessness, and even despair may start to tear apart your psyche. But if you are mindful of your inner reality, you will remember that all bad streaks come to an end. This mindfulness enables you to stay focused on the task at hand.

Self-Generated Affect is the process of smiling to make yourself happy. Sounds strange? According to Chris Kleinke, a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, the question of whether we smile because we are happy or if we are happy because we smile has been answered. Smiling makes you happier. So if you're feeling a bad attitude coming on, slap a big grin on your face and look forward to the next round! You may even discover your demeanor disarming your opponents, putting them off-balance and clearing your path to victory.

Perspective is how you remember that you're only playing a game. Sure, it's UNO, and it's an important game, but it's just one of the hundreds of thousands of games of UNO that you'll play in your lifetime. Even if you're pulling stinkers and everyone else at the table's holding nothing but Wild Draw Four Cards, take a moment and think of the cosmic irony of the whole thing. If it puts a smile on your face, even better! (See Self-Generated Affect, above)

Approach: Effortless Action

Taoists call it wei wu wei, which means "effortless doing" or "action without action." If you can approach each game of UNO with a sense of the unseen power within all things, you can learn to separate your own needs and desires from the inexorable march of the cards. UNO is a harmonious system, and if you can find your place within this system, you can take steps towards truly understanding yourself.

In the immortal words of Wang Wei (699-759 AD):

To reach the Yellow-Flowered River
Go by the Green-Water Stream.
A thousand twists and turns of mountain,
but the way there can't be far.
The sound of water falling over rocks
And deep color among the pines.
Gently green floating water-plants.
Bright the mirrored reeds and rushes.
I am a lover of true quietness.
Watching the flow of clear water
I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream.

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