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October 24, 2013

Lori Brothers: Forget scissors and paper — be a healthy rock

NEW CASTLE — Remember the game Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS)?

A friend of my recently gifted me with a new CD by an artist we both like named Jack Johnson. One of the songs is called “Shot Reverse Shot.”  It plays RPS in the lyrics of the song. “You’re the rock, I’m the scissors. You’re the paper, I’m the rock, shot reverse shot — look what the other’s got.”

RPS is a hand game usually played by two people, where players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The rock beats scissors, the scissors beat paper and the paper beats rock.  If both players throw the same shape, the game is tied.

The history of RPS goes back a long way, according to Wikipedia. There are records of the game as far back as 200 B.C. in China. They called it shoushiling. It migrated to Japan, then throughout Europe and the world. Today in Asia they call it jan-ken. The game is also known today as “roshambo,” “ick-ack-ock” and “fling-flang-flew.”

The point of the game is similar to tossing a coin, rolling dice or drawing straws. It’s a game of risk and chance.

There are now national and international championships and tournaments of this game. The trend began in 2002. Strategies are involved in playing to win. What was once a childhood game played to see who got to sit in the front seat in the car, or who got first ups in a board game, is now considered a sport. Who knew?

A lot of research has gone into the algorithms of the game and applied to other areas. Such recurring rhythms or patterns have been spotted in economics. They are also seen in nature, and are used in some medical applications.

There is a lizard that mimics RPS during mating season. The females will mate with males based on a “Fling-Flang-Flew” of color — orange beats blue, blue beats yellow, and yellow beats orange —  in competition for females’ attention.

There is also antibiotic research producing medications that are grown in labs with the rock-paper-scissors dynamics allowing for the continued competition among strains. They call this “bacterial ecology and evolution.”  Certain strains out-compete other strains.

This proves why knowing your patterns can be so important. Your stronger patterns will beat your weaker ones. Your strongest eating, exercise, or tension patterns are going to out-compete your weaker ones.

Be the rock. That is my suggestion. To me “being the rock” means focusing on your solid commitment to pay attention to healthier, stronger patterns. Solid, good patterns win.

In the real scheme of things if you stay strong, focus on healthy choices, and remain “rock-steady” you will find out that you can succeed through the wins and the losses towards meeting your goals.

In some cases, losses are positive, such as with weight loss or the loss of inches. Dropping your cholesterol level or your blood pressure is certainly a positive loss.

Paper covers rock — we’ll call that denial. Scissors cuts paper — let’s call that honesty. Sometimes it will take your inner rock to smash through other people’s opinions or invitations to tempt you to stray from your true intentions.

If you are beating the odds and winning more than you are losing in your choice making to meet your goals, you’re developing a good strategy. Notice the patterns that get the results you seek and make them your strength. Aim to win, hands down.

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