That's all a hint is, isn't it? Recognizing that we're just not looking at this the right way, and asking for help to see it differently. Not only is the current problem solved, but we also gain new knowledge that will help us in similar spots in the future. In my case, fast forward a few years, and the strategies I'd learned were helping me with other, harder game puzzles like those in the PC puzzler Myst. I'd been made a better gamer and thinker by cheating a little.

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Sometimes Keeping Score Isn't the Best Way to Learn (Or Have Fun)

I am awful at golf. I mean real world golf. I do it because it's time with friends, but I'm just plain horrible. The first few times I teed off, I was a tangled knot of frustration and shameful (but creative) expletives. Learning the types of clubs, proper grip, proper stance, proper swing - it was too much. And then, I had a breakthrough: I stopped keeping score.

I stopped keeping a running tally of my mistakes. After a good swing, I was allowed to feel good about it, without the score card reminding me it was but one success among many failures. I had given myself "unlimited lives and ammo." I was a cheater, and I was suddenly having fun being awful at golf. What's more, I was able to focus my attention on what I was doing right, and I was improving.

When a task is too much all at once, a little cheating can give you some breathing space. It can remove a few distractions, and it can keep the experience positive. Of course, there's a lot to be learned from failure, too, but sometimes we should save the bitterness of defeat for after we've tasted the sweetness of victory. It's the same reason we let young children go bowling with the bumpers on, or why we put training wheels on their bikes. These little "cheats" can help keep things fun (and keep confidence high) when you're tackling something difficult or unfamiliar.

Sometimes, It's Okay to Eat Dessert First

When I play guitar games, it's usually for the social atmosphere - loudly and badly banging out rock hits with friends. Real life being what it is, though, our time together is usually limited. Looking back to the first Rock Band, this was a problem. Getting to some of the songs we wanted meant having to play through several songs we didn't enjoy.

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