Life Lessons from the Sims: Sweet Moments

Life is composed of sweet moments: a pleasant conversation around the breakfast table; a rich and rewarding session on the piano; a butterfly’s visit to the garden; a sunny day when you’re feeling well cared-for and happy. And then the sink breaks. The stove catches on fire. You need a shower. It’s time to go to work. And sometimes, all this happens at once!

It’s not the end of the world. You can fix the sink, put out the fire, take the shower, go to work. And then, once you’ve rested from all that, maybe another sweet moment will come your way again.

I’ve learned through playing Sims that the sweetest moments happen on their own. We can create the context for them and set up the conditions to allow them to happen, but we can’t always orchestrate them.

The other day, in my Wonder Child challenge game, Harrington, the father, Sally, the mother, and Emma, the daughter, were enjoying breakfast together. In Sally’s queue, the action for serenading Harrington appeared. I considered cancelling the action, fearing that a romantic action with a third person around would create an awkward conversation. But I decided to let it happen and deal with the consequences. While she sang to Harrington, Sally looked at Emma. Harrington looked at Emma. And Emma looked with amusement at her mom. Because she felt included in the circle of their family, no awkward moodlets were created, and all three gained relationship boosts. It was sweetness all around!

I don’t think I could have created that moment–it had to happen on its own. But I created the context for it: the cozy breakfast table, the good music on the radio, the delicious food. And I’ve been encouraging the positive relationships that naturally happen between these family members.

It’s like that in life, too. At the office, I can encourage collaborative and supportive relationships with my coworkers. But I can’t always create the magical moments: they just happen, when our combined efforts contribute to projects we feel proud of, when we find a moment to laugh together or to offer needed support, when we feel that we can step up and help out. These magic moments don’t last–deadlines crop up, or office politics assert themselves–but they can return. And when we work to create an environment that allows and makes possible these moments, they happen more frequently.

In the other areas of my life, too, the sweet moments come with frequency when I don’t try to create them but allow them instead. It’s exchanging control for collaboration: with the others in my life and with life itself. I create the context and provide the conditions for sweet and rich moments through self-care, developing harmonious and supportive relationships with those in my life, expressing my cheerful nature, and by letting go, by holding my palms open so these moments can come to me.

When my Sims are tense with low fun, hunger, or hygiene meters, I know it’s time for me to relax, to slowly help and allow them to take care of their pressing needs, to be patient while we move back towards feeling good and enjoying life. And it’s at these times–in my games and in my life–that I remember that sweetness, while not permanent, always returns.