Learn How to Play Mahjongg

I am the author of a book called Dont Retire, Rewire, so my life is about challenging others to rewire their life in some way. Early this last winter I decided to take my own advice. I wanted to rewire some of my play time and decided to learn how to play mahjongg, a game that originally came from China. I wanted something fun; that I could do with friends; that had portability and that would give my brain a good workout. All of the neuroscience data today shows that it's important to constantly be learning something new that challenges your gray matter!

So let me begin with a few facts and the plan I followed:
1) I didn't know anyone who played mahjongg.
2) I didn't want to learn bridge because it seemed too difficult and serious.
3) I mentioned my desire to learn mahjongg to a friend who also knew nothing about the game but thought it sounded interesting.
4) She and I found a few other women who said they had wanted to learn but for whatever reason hadn't pursued it... yet.
5) We found a great teacher through the National MahJongg League and took lessons.
6) The mahjongg teacher orchestrates weekly games, for beginners and experts, and we committed to play every Monday. The key to doing anything new is to do it with frequency; that's the secret to learning.
7) We all have flexible work schedules, which made it doable (but it still seemed decadent to commit four hours each Monday to fun!)

Still, for me, one of the biggest and scariest learning experiences was the first time I played mahjongg with strangers. None of my gang was available one Monday, so I found myself playing with far more experienced players. Although I was a wreckand kept apologizing for mistakes, they were great and I learned a lot from them. What I realized is that it is impossible to become an expert overnight! Regardless of what we are trying to learn ---you have to be a beginner first! There's no way to get around it! Playing mahjongg has allowed me to become a part of a community of women committed to a variety of passions related to mahjongg! Even something simple like where to buy a mahjongg set or mahjongg jewelry.So whether it's mahjongg, fly fishing, golf, cooking--whatever you want to learn--take a lesson or two or three. Yes, you might look like a fool; yes, you'll be like a kid again just starting out. But you know you're smart and if you like what you are pursuing you know you will "get it" eventually and that there will be new rewards and fun at the other end!So dare to show your vulnerability and decide to try something new---who knows, you just might be good at it.Jeri Sedlar is a writer and speaker and the author of the bestseller "Dont Retire, Rewire."
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