Everyday Inspirations


~ a better you ~

Learn to love what you have, not what you don't.

Competition is a natural part of being human. Like many things, it's something most of us either love or hate. There are people who were born to compete. Others would rather hold a tarantula.

While competition can be healthy (not to mention a great way to prove your dedication and drive), it can also be a source of unnecessary stress. Most of us unconsciously hold mental competitions all day long. Who's the fastest car on the road this morning? Who has the best hair today? Who got the most recognition for that project? Who has better plans for this weekend?

The constant need to win can be exhausting. It forces us to constantly push ourselves to the extreme -- and not in the good way that helps you finish a marathon or a master's degree. It's that extreme of being too harsh on ourselves -- too focused on things we don't do perfectly, rather than on things we do well.

I'll admit it. There have most definitely been times I've wanted to say or do something first, just because I was having a mental competition with a loved one. I've also been on the outside, watching friends try to "beat" someone else. It can be over something silly (I mean, really, why do we care whose hair looks best?), but it can also be over something big, like a job, house, or opportunity. Isn't it the pits when insecurities prevent you from feeling genuinely happy for someone?

Luckily, we can overcome unhealthy competition.

I have a talented, smart, beautiful friend who has indirectly taught me a lesson about competition. This friend is fabulous. She has a great job, gorgeous house, beautiful life. But not once have I ever heard her deny the opportunity to mentor a friend or share the secrets to her success. Her self-confidence has taken away any need to compete with others. She doesn't need to hoard information in the hope of becoming happy. She already is happy. Best of all, she wants everyone around her to be, too. So how do you get the same thing?

Determine what you really want from life. I know what it's like to not know what you want. When that happens, it's easy to just grab at every little thing that comes at you in the hope that something will feel right. Doesn't work, though. In fact, you get even more stressed out by trying to do everything. Take the time right now to determine what your top three goals, needs, or wants are at this time. Then let go of everything else you really don't care about.

Share good news. Let's say you've been asked to volunteer your time for a local organization. You're only semi-interested, but you do it anyway because you don't want to miss out on an opportunity. Or worse, you don't want someone else to have it... even a friend who would really enjoy the experience. Result? Stress from unhealthy (imagined) competition. Now imagine telling your friend about the opportunity. You gave it up, but doesn't it feel good to help someone else reach for his dreams? (Bonus: karma loves when you help out others.)

Call out competitive thoughts... and competitive people. Easier said than done, but start to train yourself to stop bad thoughts in their tracks. When you catch yourself thinking, "I could do that better than her!", immediately order a stop in your head, then redirect your thoughts toward something positive. And don't be afraid to say something to people who are competing with you. Try, "Just so you know, I think it's really awesome that you're doing so well. I hope you know I'm sending you good thoughts."

Ask for help. If you're really aching to learn a particular skill or to try something new, ask a friend with experience. Everyone loves to help out others and she'll be flattered that you look up to her.
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10/20/2010 02:38:22 pm

Great post Ash!! It's so funny how once you know what you want how going for things you don't like seems so silly. Law school is obviously competitive, but when I discovered that I didn't want to really be a traditional "law firm" lawyer, I didn't really care who was working for what firm and who was on Law Review, good for them, but it's just not for me! I'd rather work for an Intercollegiate Athletic Department or the US Olympic Committee and LOVE my life. So many people get suck in how they don't measure up, only because they haven't taken the time to discover what they really want.

10/20/2010 11:55:54 pm

Beautiful insight, Haley! I totally agree. And I can only imagine the competitiveness surrounding you in law school. Kudos to you for listening to your heart and making your dreams happen. I love watching you get involved with your passion and I have no doubt in the world you'll have an amazing career. :)


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