41 Responses to “Food For Your Soul: What If You Play the What-If Game?”


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  1. Oohh! The possibilities . . .
    I’m going to start playing right now.

  2. Crunchy Doll

    I have just read this post and thought I am so glad you thought ‘what if’ and just posted it! I have had lots of not so good things happen to me lately and started to think ‘I’m giving up’ however after reading the post it has made me think about things differently. I like a simple life, drama free, full of fun and smiles (who doesn’t?) however others can make my life so complicated and unneccessary. There are some people I cannot just ignore. I can’t change others, however I can change myself and the way I see/do things. I will definitely be playing this game :) xxx

  3. Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic

    what if … i close up this computer and snuggle into a warm bed?
    {night, night}

    thanks for writing this :)

  4. I really needed to hear this. It’s a fantastic idea and I’m going to start playing right now. Thank you!

  5. Jennifer

    I love this post, it’s inspiring. Change can be so hard and this approach makes it simple and, this is very important, it makes it ok to try a different way if the first one doesn’t work. I just found your blog and I’ve been reading the archives. I’m really enjoying it.

  6. Absolutely love this game. Gonna start playing tomorrow morning.. what if I started waking up earlier than I need to be up…….. I wonder.. :)

    Thanks for posting!

  7. ChittyKittyBangBang

    What if I really did use a homemade bathroom cleaner in my tub/shower? If I just stopped procrastinating about it and cleaned the dang thing? This was my thought 24 hours ago. So I did it, and I discovered the “hmmm, those tiles are not actually white, they’re painted to look white, and oh, it’s actually really cheap white paint but that’s ok because I rent anyway” outcome. But, at the same time, I’m not sure it’s ever been cleaner! Pretty simplistic, but hey, no rules, right? Thanks for this reminder. I needed it.

  8. Tanya

    I too am analytical about everything in my life! I take myself way way way too seriously at times. So…..what if I stop trying to control everything(as if I ACTUALLY had any control in the first place!) and allow those around me to make their own decisions and mistakes and learn from those mistakes? What if I stop being so serious and enjoy myself and the journey? I could actually have some fun!!! Hey, I like this game.

  9. Mary P.

    You’ve hit on something important here. From my reading on Jungian theory (I admit it, I love personality tests), I’ve learned about four scales to measure temperment. The fourth scale (and hardest to explain) is called Judging/Perceiving. It’s about how we look at time and decision-making. Judgers view choice as concrete, permenant. They tend to be organized, to-do list, routine kinds of people (and I’m guessing they’re the ones who write all the self-help books!). Us Perceivers simply can’t function that way. For us these things are more fluidic, we are uncomfortable being tied-down. I’ve read we should make May-Do lists instead of To-Do lists, so we have more options etc. Anyway, what you’re recommending here seems like a valuable tool for people like me, for Perceivers (if you like). I like this game. After feeling guilty about my dishes, unmade phonecall, or unused exercise equipment, today I will stop, let go of the guilt, and wonder what if… Thank you!

  10. HeatherHappy

    This was a really great post ;) :) It reminded me of a time, quite a few years ago, when I was living/studying abroadin Europe. I was thinking about going home instead of staying for a second year…and it was a real battle in my head…and my German friends, one in particular, said you don’t want to wake up years from now asking “What if…”…It’s better to try it and know then to have questions and wonder about what could have been. so I stayed a second year, and a third…and it was the best time of my life :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  11. Margie

    I love it. I make Very Big Deals habitually and need to put things into perspective. I have been known to ask myself, “in ten years will this actually matter?” If the answer is no, why am i wasting so much brain power on it?!?! Creating drama for drama’s sake is what high school was for. Lol Seriously, I’m bookmarking this and I’m sharing it with whoever will sit down and read it. Who knows, I may actually give myself some breathing room, and get back into hobbies I used to enjoy.

  12. Orin

    Love, love, love this. I tend to be overbearing and controlling, but because I care about others and want the best for them. I tend to expect the worst.
    I am going to start playing this though and will do my darndest to do it in my most uncomfortable moments….

  13. Kathryn

    Fantastic post. The idea of not being attached to a potential outcome reminded me of the point made in this article:
    Being too focused on achieving a particular outcome may ruin the experience along the way.

  14. Merilyn

    Two thoughts:

    First — Yay! This really is a lovely way to mental stress FREEDOM. I heard a version of this years ago referred to as “What is so terrible?”, and I love it. I didn’t use the word “freedom” lightly, because it really does feel like freedom to let go of the anxiety and be ready to accept the consequences of your choices. Like you said, watch and see and at the very least, you’ll have learned something. And that’s a nice big thing to have happen.
    Second — your anecdote about your husband. My husband is the one who taught me how to stop arguing and to disagree pleasantly. From our first meeting, he defused every argument by simply refusing to argue. He showed respect for my point of view, and showed clearly that his love for me was more important than winning. Because of his attitude, it’s become such a habit for us to get along, find compromises and use large doses of humor that it would be really weird for us to actually argue. He gets all the credit and I get to revel in sweet peace at home. So I totally agree about not giving up on some “what ifs”. If ornery, sarcastic, cynical me can learn to play nice, anyone can!

  15. Molly

    Betty, have been a fan now for quite awhile. I’ve never commented before, but having a few years on you I just want to applaud you for where you’ve gone.in your thinking…bravo!! Also as you make this a “regular” part of your thinking you will find it becomes a part of who you are! Finally there’s hope, because as you age-40,etc,you will find you worry a lot less. It seems to happen with age….smile. Keep up the what if…it’s a great tool!!

  16. MSKM

    Fantastic post…I love your thought processes. For me, it’s worrying about how my ex and his family perceive me and relay that to my children. What if I just decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they think/speak well of me?

  17. Pam

    This is beautiful. It’s like you were in my head and voiced all the things I feel about committing to doing better in various life aspects. “What if” is friendly, non-threatening, and easy on the brain. Thanks for sharing this!

  18. Amy Amethyst

    What a great post! I’ve always been somewhat of a worrier and it’s something that I constantly work on. I think as I grow older I learn when to let things go and whatever happens, happens. My what if lately is…what if I just stop over analyzing and worrying and have fun with life and let the pieces fall into place? It does make things a lot less stressful.

  19. Lyndsie911

    I’m a huge procrastinator, and I’m trying to change up some of my habits so that I will be able to graduate from high school (I’m about a year behind in my schoolwork). I’m also turning 18 in 6 months, taking my first ever driver’s test on Friday, trying to maintain the health of my body, and dealing with peers who have made it very clear that they don’t want anything to do with me unless they can use me. I feel like there is so much pressure on me, and I feel unprepared to become an adult and handle tougher situations when I fail at handling my current situations.

    It’s thoughts like yours that remind me to take a deep breath and remember that this is not the end of the world. I can make it through this. I can regain control over my circumstances by changing my perception, reactions, habits, and by extension, my outcomes. By experimenting with the What-If’s in my life, I can make real, lasting changes that come naturally, not by using force: changes that I’m much more likely to develop and maintain.
    Also, I read a book just a week ago called ‘The Power of Habit’. It really sounds a LOT like what you’ve written, Leslie. It also talks about habits and experimenting with them in order to change the outcomes. It seems really funny that I would read a book and a blog post which are not related to each other in any way, yet they talk about an identical topic. I guess someone’s trying to tell me something, eh? Seriously, though, I would strongly recommend that book to anyone interested in the contents of this blog post, as the book offers a deeper understanding of habits, perception, and experimenting with both in order to affect the outcomes.

  20. Jo Lynn

    Yes! I needed to hear this so badly. Thank you! What if? What if? That sounds like the single best self motivation mantra ever… Thanks so much :) http://www.healbelly.com

  21. Ashley Strachey

    Amazing post. I could definitely apply this to my life.

    What if… I stop worrying about perfection and just start my blog?

  22. JenJulia

    I love this post! I am familiar now with having to just “let things fall into place” as I have been laid off twice in the past 2 years. The first time I stressed out completely the whole time I was unemployed and made everybody miserable, and I eventually found a job. The next time I learned I didn’t have to do that, and now I have found what I truly want to do (at the age of 40!). I am going back to school next month to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and am so excited to have finally found my calling in the throws of something so terrible. In the meantime I have done a workshare for a CSA farm and am loving doing farm work too. Even though you may doubt it, saying “What If” and letting things go often brings about the greatest things in life :)

  23. PATTY

    After a few life-threatening events, I have changed my “when to worry” criteria. Can it kill me? Will anyone get hurt? If not, it’s not a big deal. The end.

  24. cdngrleh

    Great post! I’ve actually been working on re-wiring my brain in much the same way the past year or so. It takes a lot of effort especially at first but it’s really worth it, imo. The greatest advantages I’ve noticed are: less guilt for not reaching my preconceived notion of a good outcome and more joy from taking experiences as they come and not worrying so much about how it’ll all turn out. Thanks for your encouragement to keep trying!

  25. Mrs. Z

    Oh my goodness I needed this post and this change in mindset!!! I am a perfectionist at heart, which means I tend to also be a procrastinator. I am easily overwhelmed by what I perceive to be the sheer volume of things I need to do!

    Like you, self-help books frustrate me even more and leave me even more overwhelmed. But this???? This I can do!!

    What if I folded those clothes?
    What if I didn’t eat that?
    What if I cleaned the stove?

    On and on….I guess I don’t understand it, but just saying “what if” takes the pressure of perfection OFF me.

    My goodness thank-you!!!!!

  26. Rachel

    I have actually been playing this without realizing it…what if I said yes? what if money wasn’t an issue? what if I just signed up and went? what if I stick one or two toes out of my comfort zone?
    I’m glad you wrote this post because reading it I realize I want to play it with my children as well as myself. what if every little annoying behavior doesn’t mean that I am raising jackasses? what if they are just being kids? what if I make it more fun? what if we take and extra few minutes to deal with it?
    what if the possibilities are endless? :)

  27. Stephanie

    I used to play “What’s The Worst That Could Happen”, and that was pretty good… but focused on the negative.

    I think “What If…” is even better. Much more positive. Thanks for the new perspective, great timing (as usual)!

    • Barbara McNichol

      “What’s the worst that can happen?” works for me because generally it is nebulous fears that hold me back and the fears are so much bigger than the actual risks involved. Generally the worst that can happen is that things stay pretty much the same as they are if my venture fails. But I’m focusing on What if OMG I COULD FAIL AT THIS instead of What if I try and fail– the worst that could happen is I’m out a few hours a bit of effort etc and maybe something better could come out of it. I think its a personality thing.

  28. daisyglitters

    So much LOL-ing @ “Woman! I am not done!”…and going to the garage to drink beer and fix a car with a wrench or a nut. This I love. Your “what-if” I write this sentence turned into making my day.

    Great advice. I heartily encourage people to “just try it”. You are a real whiz-bang, Leslie! Don’t let those Very Big Deals eat you up!

  29. Kesha K.

    I love you, Leslie. Magnificent idea! You do more than you realize for us ladies and gents here on teh interwebz. I can’t wait for the next situation to come up so I can play this game!

  30. Alexandra

    I take things way too personally. Even when I know it’s not personal, even when it (whatever it is) is directed at somebody else, I still feel like it’s my problem. So I’m going to try “What if I stop being so thin-skinned?”

  31. tinbarn

    fantastic article, as per usual. and so gosh-darn applicable to the real world… slash to most women out there! i have too many what if experiments to write them all down here – im excited to get started. thank you a million!

  32. JuJo

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been playing this game lately:)

  33. Teresa M.

    So I played the game this morning. I have been “no poo” for over a year now and on very rare occasions might put some castile soap in my hair to get all the oil out from a hot oil treatment or oily hair mask. Today I looked at my jar of homemade lotion and thought, “hmmm…it sure does look a lot like hair conditioner. I wonder if that is how hair conditioner got started in the first place…somebody just put it on their head?” So…I washed my hair this morning and put 1 Tblspn of my homemade lotion on my hair, worked it through and left it on for 5 minutes, then rinsed it out real good. Wow! My hair is soft and happy. :-)

  34. alysha

    I have always been a night owl, seriously, since the day i was born, i hate sleep. but during the day i get tired and rundown and i know its because i dont get more then a few hours of sleep every night. Trying to shut my brain off and closing my eyes….. nearly impossible. so what-if i try to go to bed a little earlier each night. I know this will help my focus and energy and so many other aspects of my life….

  35. manda00

    I just had to say….what an awesome thing to read. Seriously great advice that I need to take….”What if, I take this advice and really try it!?”

  36. isis

    What if….. I stop trying to aim for perfection with how my body, skin, clothes, face, nails, hair, relationship, family, job looks like? Or even with how my life looks like??

    I feel much more relaxed just thinking about it already! =)

    Thank you so much for writing this empowering article. It took all of a few minutes to read but it’s so effective and useful!!

  37. wakingthedemiurge

    one of the most overused lyrics on the planet, but-

    you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.

    i’ve been having an absolute sh** year and it’s not over yet. but- crunchy betty i absolutely mean this- your blog was what i needed at the exact moment in time that i needed it.

    i have gotten so wrapped up in all the bad stuff this year i started to feel like a vortex of awfulness. happiness evaporated within a half mile of me. sarcasm became my native language.

    what if i just concentrate on one thing at a time? what if i pick up one project and finish it? what if i decide that i’m ok? what if i don’t dwell on things that i can’t change or improve?
    what if i just concentrate on finishing one project? that’ll do for the first experiment. i’ll pick a project sitting on my workbench and finish it up. good idea crunchy betty.

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  1. […] today about a new game she is playing and she wants all of us/you to try it. It’s called the What-If game. It’s pretty easy to play and the best part is that as long as you play, you are a winner. […]

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