Happiness & The Need to Win
In the United States, part of the script we are fed from birth is how important winning is, to be American we are told is to never be bested. It leads to a concept called American Exceptionalism which is a blind belief that whatever America does is best? This of course is ridiculous, no person, no ideology, no country is always best or right, all are human creations and to my knowledge there has never been a perfect human.
We are fed on quotes like, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing – Vince Lombardi” or “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning second ~ George Steinbrenner.” Of course, Donald Trump has said, “My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.” Now I used these quotes in a particular order. Lombardi was a great coach and he was talking about football. Steinbrenner was the owner of the Yankees and not known as the most ethical of owners, who symbolized buying his way to championships. Few people would hold up Donald Trump as a model of ethics, integrity or happiness. Finally the image I use tonight, Charlie Sheen and his insistence in the middle of a drug and alcohol fueled meltdown that he was “winning!” He has recently been diagnosed HIV positive and I feel for him but I don’t think I’d consider that winning.
Now this idea of winning has consequences in our everyday life that assault our happiness. People come to believe that winning at all costs is the most important thing. It shows up in the person who steals a parking spot you are quite obviously waiting on. Drivers who tailgate and whip through traffic risking injury to all of us, even in the way whenever you pass someone on the highway they suddenly speed up as you go by. This attitude leads to behaviors that create stress for all of us. This focus on winning teaches us to be less empathetic and compassionate to our fellow humans.
Lack of empathy and compassion toward others has consequences for the self. We get back what we give, when we are empathetic and compassionate, those are the type of emotions and actions that come back to us. Is winning so important? I’m all in favor of keeping score at kids games and in life, in fact we will win and lose and we need to know how to deal with that, but we also need perspective. Do you have to win at getting a parking spot, a spot in line at the grocery store, is it really losing getting passed on the highway? We need to keep perspective on what’s really important in life. To me, being happy is what I consider winning, whether I’m first or fourth or last. So my friends, slow down, take it easy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane