The difference between striving to be better and competing

In a previous article we pointed out that striving to be better is an essential element of happiness. We also pointed out that a balance between mind, body and spirit was an important element in the Olympic games from their inception in 776 BCE and remains so today.

Five days into the 2012 Olympics and there is already a breakdown of both elements. Four badminton teams – two representing South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia – were rightly dismissed from the games for striving to win at the expense of being better. The motto “faster, higher, stronger” expresses the ideal of striving to be better – not winning.

Of course winning and medals are part of the Olympic games – indeed, part of everyday life. But those come as a result of – even reward for – striving to be better.

Those in the Olympics, and in everyday life, who embrace the right spirit find joy and happiness, and in turn inspire others. A good example can be seen in the two U.S swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte who the media label “rivals” but in reality “compete” with the spirit of being better and enabling the other be and do better as well.

After a race they embrace each other and one can see the joy in their faces.

Another element that seems to come into the games, and which may produce negative emotions is that of competing to please parents – or anyone else for that matter. Some athletes have remarked in interviews that they want to do whatever it takes to make their parents happy – or not to shame them.

This is indeed a pity; more on that later. In the meantime, share your comments and suggestions here. You can also send me an e-mail or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

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