Why we call them cheat-codes

Few things beat the thrill of finishing a difficult video game without cheat-codes.

They are called cheat-codes for a reason. They give you unlimited lives, inexhaustible ammo and the ability to skip difficult stages. In return, they steal the sense of accomplishment you would have felt had you finished the game on your own. Like bewitched items in spooky movies, they grant you power but exact a hidden price.

Cheat codes aren’t limited to video games.

Unearned wealth feels empty. A fortune either inherited or won in a lottery will never feel as fulfilling as wealth that is earned through the sweat of one’s own brow.

Intoxication is fleeting because it rewards us without effort. Even as alcohol leaves us with a hangover the morning after, the feel-good chemicals from a long run or a tough hike linger in the body for days.

Entertainment comes in shallow and deep forms. Watching the Lord of the Rings movies, as magnificent as they are, requires little effort. Reading the books takes several more hours and requires you to recreate the battle at Helm’s Deep in your mind’s eye rather than consume it as post-processed HD visuals on a screen.

Challenge and effort aren’t the adversaries of accomplishment. They are its allies.

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