Life Is Not a Competition
Can you name the happiest man on earth? What do you think he owns?
You probably think about the luxuries in life. He may be a billionaire with a huge mansion and a fleet of cars. Or you think about a celebrity who is almost as rich and oh-so-famous!
Then as kids, we believed that we’d be happy when we came first in class or won a race or got praised in front of everyone. It was all about being the ‘best’ and owning the fanciest, flashiest ‘stuff’.
It seems that we have been ingrained with a competitive mindset. Darwin speaks of the ‘survival of the fittest’, doesn’t he? It is our natural instinct to cutthroats and then move forward. This is probably why we have play life like a game.
This was the scenario when I entered the halls of my alma mater. The class of ’97 had gathered for a reunion. I could see my classmates boasting about their designations, their kids and some flaunted their trophy wives.
The automatic response to ‘wow is life?’ was to compare bank accounts. If someone asked about the children you instantly mentioned their grades and colleges. The hall was like an exhibition of all the success we had garnered over the years. Talking about failure was taboo here.
Amidst the hugs and handshakes, all eyes were searching for one name. Michael Andrews, the ‘golden boy’ of our crowd of hooligans. He was an all-rounder, captain of the football team and valedictorian in the final year.
‘‘Where is the champion?’’ I inquired.
‘’Oh! Didn’t you hear John?’’ my best friend replied in hushed tones.
“What?’’ I asked bewildered.
His silent whisper and solemn expression led me to believe that we had lost our shining star. I wondered why no one had informed me. I looked on the walls for an obituary or relic that commemorated him like it did for the men we had lost over the years.
“Nothing to worry about,’’ assured William detecting the panic in my voice. “It’s just that Mikey works as a football coach here’’
William then burst into a fit of giggles like a ten-year-old but stopped when I did not mimic his reaction. Then he rolled his eyes at my indifference and pointed to the man in question.
Just like before Michael stood out among the wannabes. His eyes sparkled with mischief and his face softened with compassion when his eyes met mine. I was a below average student who tagged the team as a ‘towel boy’. Yet, this superstar still recognized me amidst the crowd.
Over a glass of wine, I heard my idol’s story. His wife had died and he had no choice to give up the sports career and come home for the kids. Surprisingly, he said that this life fits like a glove. He didn’t have to worry about the press, the games or the money.
This encounter taught me that:
Life is not a competition. It is a series of happy memories disrupted with sad ones. The only way we win is by spreading joy and happiness with whoever we meet.
I wish everyone was like Michael and accepted the small victories instead of chasing after the big ones.
A Selection of Joy & Happiness Quotes
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ~
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ~
“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” ~
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.” ~
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