They say a little competition is a good thing. I believe the expression is “healthy competition.” Although this can be fine as long as that competition is for the purposes of fun and is only a game. The problem begins when one’s need for competition extends beyond fun and games and drips into everyday life. If you compete against others in life, you’ll find yourself walking a very lonely path; even if you’re not alone.
The goal of life should be to eliminate suffering; suffering in one’s own life and suffering in other peoples’ lives. If you compete against others for the purposes of personal advancement, comparing yourself to others or for gain, such as money, popularity or status, the only outcome will be suffering. Status in life means nothing. And let’s not mistake status for success; those are two very different things and success can be measured by the efforts and goals you set for oneself. Status is how outside people see you in relation to personal gain. Not so great.
Back in the 1990’s (yes, I’m old) I had my wisdom teeth removed. While I was laid up for a day or two on Tylenol 3’s, I rented a handful of movies to watch. Yes, this was back during a time when you had to actually walk into a retail location, provide your personal information and borrow a playable tape (not DVD) in order to watch it at home. Anyway, I decided to binge on a particular series and rented every Rocky movie I could find. I was a pretty big Sylvester Stallone fan, so it was a no-brainer. There were four movies out, at the time.
When I got to Rocky IV, one of the things I was most amazed with was the soundtrack. One would think that I would have been inspired by the lesson behind the movie, but you can only watch Stallone lose, train and make a comeback then finally defeat one’s enemy before the movies kind of all blend together. Anyway, there’s a song by Survivor called “Burning Heart.” The song was released in 1985, the same year as Rocky IV came out. The movie has some undertones that’s suggestive that the message relates to the Cold War and if I had to guess, I’d say that the song was written specifically for the soundtrack.
Anyway, there’s a particular line in the song that speaks to me and has done so ever since. It goes, “In the warrior’s code, there’s no surrender. Though his body says stop, his spirit cries NEVER! Deep in our soul a quiet ember knows it’s you against you; it’s the paradox that drives us on.” And that’s the message: the true competition is against yourself. Work to be a bit better than you were the day before. Set goals and fight to complete them. As long as you have moved one step closer today than you were yesterday, you’re competing the RIGHT way. But as soon as you compete while comparing yourself to anyone else, the only possible result will be suffering. And that doesn’t work for anybody. Food for thought… ☯️