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Most people who know me, know that I love the game of chess. The game seems to be endless in its ability to challenge me. I have also discovered a great many life applications from the game. I began teaching chess in therapy to assist with impulse control, problem solving, thinking ahead, and focus. What I didn’t plan on learning was a very successful battle plan which is to control the center of the board. I have found that if I control the center of the board I can win the majority of the time, if not all the time.

After much thought I began to realize that the plan works in my private life also. If I control the center of my life I am healthier. I am focused. I remain emotionally stable as I face problems and challenges.

What does that mean to control the center of your life? What is at the center of your life? Most identify that their family or faith is the center. Everything else seems to revolve around what is identified as at the center. If I am focused on maintaining the health of what is at the center, then my relationship with my wife, children, friends, and family seem to be more in balance.

Occasionally I will place a barrier in the middle of the chess board that keeps players from moving into the middle four or six squares. The game becomes much more difficult and for some people it is an overwhelming addition to the game. I liken this to ignoring the center of our lives. When we ignore the center we are missing what holds us together. The hole in the middle represents a void, or a missing part. Trying to live without addressing the center hole is very overwhelming, and requires a lot more energy and effort just to make it everyday. While there are some who just want to “make it or just get by” I don’t find that kind of life very satisfying. I want to get out of life everything I can, and to do so requires that I play with the complete “board” and with a laser focus on maintaining my center.

I work hard to remain focused on what is important in life, and this includes keeping control of the center of my life. I am sure there are many things you can put at the center of your life, but I strongly recommend that you have something in the center that is bigger than yourself. Something that is dependable, reliable, trustworthy, caring, kind, strong, peaceful, supportive, intelligent, and benevolent, just to mention a few. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found much that can fill that order. Money, sex, drugs, food, material possessions, and even other people don’t seem to measure up.

In our world of endless challenges, economic uncertainty, and a lack of commitment and passion, what is at the center? Spend some time searching within yourself for what is at your center. What is most important to you? Where do you get your strength, your ability to keep going, your feeling of success and satisfaction? Do you rely on things that are fading away? Don’t be “hoodwinked” into believing that others have your best interest at heart. Search for yourself what is worthwhile and real and lasting. You were created for greatness and a purposeful life.