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For many things in life there is an element of competition.  If you go for a job interview, you’d better show that you’re the most suitable candidate or you will be heading back to your old place of work next Monday morning and not settling in to the new company.  If you’re a sports fan, you will be cheering for your favourite team to bring home the trophy, and will quite possibly feel crushed and cheated for a while should they walk away from the final without the silverware.  This kind of competition can be exciting, necessary and rewarding, and the taste of victory can be sweet indeed.


What happens, however, if we look through the lens of competition in all areas of our lives?  The song Everybody’s Free by Baz Luhrmann of the late nineties has an interesting take on whether competition is always a good thing, when it says:


“Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind,

The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself”


I think these lyrics raise an interesting point, and illustrate a pitfall that we can all stumble into when comparing our lives to that of others.  One thing that counselling has taught me is that each person I see is entirely unique.  Even if I were to engage in two separate therapeutic relationships with two neighbours, who grew up on the same street as youngsters, went to the same schools and then got a job at the same company, their stories would be very different (even if many of the ‘facts’ were the same).  It is easy to look at someone from the outside and envy what they have, try to emulate their success in the hope of replicating their achievements in our own lives.  What I have come to realise is that even if we were successful in doing this to a degree, it would not necessarily make us happy or content with our ‘lot’.


I wonder sometimes whether contentment (the ability to sit in the armchair and think, “you know, I’m OK, and this is OK”) comes not from beating off all the competition, but rather from realising our strengths and weaknesses and working to shore up the former and address (where possible) the latter.  Knowing what we can change and what we would do better to accept can be liberating and can lead us away from a life where we it is OK only in comparison to what so and so has done and got.


Would you agree with my assessment that contentment may in the long run be more important than competition?


Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy


Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com


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Contentment Not Competition

Contentment Not Competition | Ashwood Therapy Blog