Does It Matter Who Wins the Race?

“Yes, there are times when the gold medal only goes to the winner. But not in the race of life, where the winners are those who are superior not to others but to their former selves.”
– Robert Cooper

2013 St. Patrick's Day 8K

How have you bested your former self lately? How have you strived to learn more and crave less?

Have you checked in with yourself when you heard yourself complaining? Have you pouted at the thought of working harder? Had a First World Problem whinesesh (not the good kind with a cheese plate in tow)? At every moment you have the option to remain static, give up, or move forward. And your path will only be your own.

Empower yourself by winning at your own game everyday. You are your own best competitor.

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Leggo My Ego: Mindfulness in the Time of Frozen Waffles

How to Become an Egotistical Monster in 7 Steps or Less!

1. Become Ravenous for Online Attention. Base your mood on whether or not someone liked, commented, or championed something you wrote (or that you found and appropriated as your own). Question everything about yourself if you do not receive the stamp of approval you desperately seek.

2. Assume that Other People’s Emotions or Actions Have to Do Entirely with You.  Ignore the fact that others might be caught up in their own lives and that could seep into their exchanges with you. Treat a negative conversation as an excuse to start feeling sorry for yourself indefinitely.

3. Steer All Conversations Back Towards You. You’ve got the most interesting life anyways, right? Act surprised when others are suddenly disinterested in a person who takes no interest in getting to know them.

4. Spend All of Your Time Patting Your Back Over Past Successes. Get comfortable with the idea that you’ve already grown as much as a human being can grow. Rest on those laurels now.

5. See Everyone as a Competitor. Get angry if someone else receives a gift or an opportunity that you have been coveting. Convince yourself you deserved it more and find no possible way to feel happy for that person, let alone inspired by them.

6. Forget that Someone Else May Know More Than You. Be ashamed to ask for help and assume that you can outsmart anyone in a room. Flaunt this God-like intelligence and try to constantly catch others in their folly. That’ll show ‘em.

7. Practice those Do, Re, MeMeMeMeMeMe’s. Sing the song of your own brilliance, hog the mic and never let the spotlight hit anyone else. Barely notice when your world starts shrinking to include just a faint glow around yourself.

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Life is Not a Competition

When you place all your effort into one-upping those around you, you forget to put effort into yourself. And in an instant, life becomes about the accumulation of things instead of experiences. You race towards that next promotion, or award, or publication, feeding an ever-hungry ego and forgoing the joy of the ride.

And it’s easy to get caught up in it all – the media tells us we need to look a certain way, Facebook friends publicize their successes by the second, your family expects you to become a doctor or a lawyer (or maybe marry one), peers and colleagues ask “what have you done lately?” And suddenly we’re frantically looking around convincing ourselves that everyone around us is more successful and more fulfilled than we are. When in reality, everyone’s trying to strike a better balance to make themselves happier.

I’ve even seen this among the WordPress community (which on the whole is a welcoming and supportive one) with individuals literally begging to be Freshly Pressed to have another accolade that can momentarily satiate that creeping feeling of “does what I do matter.” Here’s a secret: you don’t need that nod in order to make a difference. Whether your page has 5 views a day or 5,000, you never know whose lives you may be touching by sharing your story, photos, poetry, jokes or whatever else you offer. All this to say, focus on making you better. It does no good to waste time on wondering why you haven’t reached some threshold of success that you’re coveting.  Improve yourself and your work, and the recognition will follow.

The next time you feel a pang of jealousy or inadequacy, step back and reevaluate. Are you angry at that person because they’ve done you some wrong, or because you want what they have? If the answer’s the latter, start working to get where you want to be. Because I can’t remember the last time someone got an award for sitting around and grumbling.

Compete against yourself. It’s a worthy adversary and in the end, you’ll always come out a winner.

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