The Pros and Cons of Competition

Very early in life we are taught that competition is good and makes you strive to achieve and fulfill your greatest potential. It sounds great but what is absent from that theory is that sometimes getting wrapped up in competing never allows you to get to know yourself. If you are always consumed with doing better than someone else how can you discover your own goals and dreams?

It seems that there is so much emphasis on winning that society puts on you, and having more than everyone else is somehow analogous to success. Whether it is more success, more money, or more material possessions, even the race to look younger has become a competition. Teenagers are joining the millions of adults getting injected with Botox and Restylane. Nowhere is this more evident than television. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing both adults and children competing against one another. It would be fine if it wasn’t filled with such anger and determination to win at any cost. The message is clearly that winning is everything when in fact there is so much to learn from not winning, mainly humility, and that the reality is that we all can’t win all the time – and it’s ok. The desire to always be number one brings stress and frustration. What about being a good sport and being happy for the winner?

As someone who loves to cook I always liked the food channel. However, recently the same has happened there. Cupcake wars? Must we have a war on cupcakes? What have they ever done to us except be delicious? There are other shows similar in nature on the food network where people run around with a gladiator mentality over a chicken dish! Then there are the shows that pin children against one another in competition. What is sad is that the parents are fully engaged in it as well exhibiting child like behavior. The over-the-top effect may be shock value for TV but the message is extremely disturbing. Clearly competition is present in life and can build character if it is handled in a way that is fair and sends a message that it’s ok not to always come out on top. Perfection is a subjective illusion anyway, isn’t it? It’s all in our heads. It’s what we each deem as perfect. Why don’t we already feel perfect? Because perfect has been perceived as what others believe perfect to be, and we can never really live up to what others think that is. We should only be concerned with how we feel about our accomplishments or lack thereof. Trying to achieve some false sense of perfection only sets us up for failure. There will always be someone in life who has more than you but who cares? Be yourself. We all have our own style and uniqueness which makes us interesting – and perfect! I doubt Mozart, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein or Bob Dylan were concerned with being like everyone else, and they did ok for themselves.

If you find yourself on the treadmill of always trying to top yourself and others, try this…..take about ten minutes a day (twice a day would be even better), and find a place that is quiet to be all by yourself. You can even light some incense or a candle, close your eyes and just ask the question….Who am I and what do I want? If thoughts come into your head, just take a deep breath and ask the question again. Be still and meditate on that each day. Being still and quiet may bring up things that are uncomfortable at first to think about but pushing away those thoughts will just bring them up at a later time. Accumulating toxic emotions that do not get addressed can cause illness so stay with it even if it’s uncomfortable. Over time that feeling will fade. Consider it practicing a little self preservation. And over time you may start to realize who you are and what you want to achieve in life – your way – and in that lies the perfection of you.