Losing gracefully is a far more valuable skill than winning well. Teaching kids to have good sportsmanship is more important than what meets the eye. After all, life is made up of losing moments … mostly.
Damien Riley is a blogger and podcaster who writes a column at rileycentral.blog periodically. He has an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton, he married a princess (now his queen) and together they have 3 children.
How many people in a given classroom/workplace/region can win first place? It’s a small group. The much larger one is the set of people on the way down from the top: you and me. You might argue that you are a “winner” and that you come from a long line of the sort. I say, “Congratulations. When you’re not winning we’ll be here waiting for you.” It’s easy to prepare for a big win and then accept it but how does one prepare for mediocrity?
Most of life is just waking up and making coffee. Some days are full of butterflies when we have something huge going on but more often than not, our lives consist of waking up, feeding ourselves, interacting with others in our work and family lives, and make plans so we can continue the cycle again … thankfully! It could be argued that the best part of life is the mundane aspect of just being you, and doing the simple things. There is no trophy to be gained from that. That’s a shame because in a way, it’s harder to maintain calm and peace than it is to earn an award.
Who says to their doctor: “Doc, please schedule my surgery so I can win one more gold medal.” Not many. We instead hope the surgery will be done so we can continue our slow-paced life of succeeding and “just continuing on.” And speaking of health, why do we all-but-worship youth when it’s natural to be healthy and attractive when you’re young. The real challenge is staying healthy over 50 and upward. But that will win no awards. Doing it I suppose is its own.
Growing up my parents always taught me to be thankful, no matter what. Whether we had a feast at home or a crust of bread. I hope I can get that across to my kids because it’s the most profound wisdom I know. When you’re thankful, nothing can harm you. It becomes a creative endeavor and skill to practice thankfulness every day. What horrible thing can embarrass you if you are happy within. That’s type of person we need to be developing in the world today.
When you need nothing you assume nothing of others. Of course, we all have needs but we can work toward ignoring them. Guess what, they usually get fulfilled anyway in ways we never plan. There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness these days and I subscribe to it 100%. If we learn to live in the moment, there is no striving. We feel the present moment for whatever it is, not longing for a “past win.” It is great to win, don’t get me wrong, but the true and deepest pleasure comes in the ride, the journey, the now. As John Lennon wisely noted: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
I want to be the loser that congratulates the winner and makes him feel great! Spikes are powerful and a win is a spike. Like watching a sunset and wishing you were the sunset, jealousy and bitterness makes no sense in the long run. Think more about how you can be happy losing and you’ll be a hell of lot happier in life. There are many applications here and I know some of you will disagree with these words so I invite your comments as always on this week’s column. I say if you can get comfortable with losing or just getting through your life ok in some spots, you’ll be quite happy and content the rest of your life. If you need spikes to be happy, good luck with that. A great example is the Olympics. Just getting there is an honor just like being alive is the greatest honor there is.