competition

Competition is a …

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As I attended a 6:30 am Bikram yoga class this morning I observed an interesting set of behaviors playing out between my fellow yoga mates. For the purposes of setting the scene, I would like to just mention 6:30 am is not my usual yoga time. I prefer to attend classes at 8:30 am or 9:30 am in order to be in a smaller class setting.  The smaller classes tend to have around 6-9 people in attendance. I like to think these smaller classes provide the attendees with individual attention for learning and growth, hence my reason for liking them. Might I also mention the added bonus, this particular type of yoga is practiced in a room that usually reaches temperatures of or around 105 degrees.  Not an ideal setting for a packed class if you ask me but let’s get back to my story.

As I attended this mornings packed session I came to the realization that the smaller class attendees are less inclined to compete. Not so sure if this is a good or bad thing but I would love for my readers to share their insights.

So here’s what I observed. This  mornings class had around 20 attendees. It was packed with students stretched from wall to wall. As the class was getting ready to begin, a yoga mate made a comment about how the packed classes tend to motivate him more. He said that the added pressure to keep a pose in front of all the other students kept him focused. He then added that he would never want to be the first student to fall out of a position let alone sit out for one of the poses. I looked to see the reaction of other students and i was pretty shocked to see several people nodding in agreement. This interaction really made me think.balancing stick

Now I haven’t been a yoga practitioner for very long but I can recall what drew me to the practice. Yoga is typically practiced to center ones mind. It is said that yoga promotes the stilling of the mind’s disturbances so you can experience life at its deepest and most profound levels.  It is practiced to relieve the stress and tension of ones daily routine in order to  promote a more peaceful state conducive to confidence, grace and calm efficiency in pressured situations.  These are the things that drew me to practicing yoga. I desired a sense of peace and stillness. I yearned for some form of exercise that would not only promote physical health but would impact my mind in a positive way as well. I wanted to reward myself with 90 minutes a day to clear my mind of its daily stresses and devote sometime to just be. No random worries or concerns of the day or week would be allowed to invade my mind during this “alone” time. I would have 90 minutes to break from the worries of my world in exchange for a very gratifying sense of release.

So how does competition come into play? The male student that commented in my class this morning really caused me to question why social settings constantly have a tendency of being just another venue to compete. Must it always be about looking better or being the best? I personally joined yoga for the reasons I mentioned above. If  I were to devote my 90 minutes to looking around the room to see which one of my fellow yoga mates was about to drop first I would be doing myself a huge disservice. I would lose sight of my own progress in the class and in addition I might start to place added pressure on myself to think I’m not doing as well as I should be in comparison to some of the other students.

Now I know a little competition can serve as a motivator for some, but isn’t there a healthier alternative? Being in the moment and building on your own strengths and abilities might prove more beneficial. If you can focus all of your energy on your own actions and allow yourself to be the sole judge of your progress you will begin to see how less critical you are of yourself. Put less of an emphasis on what others might be thinking of you and more emphasis on what you are doing in the moment.  What ever happened to the art of learning? Perhaps learning has become more about learning to have a competitive edge rather than learning for personal growth, development or more simply just for fun. Be confident in your actions and own them. Your strengths, abilities and talents are unique to you and therefore should be embraced. Namaste. Now let’s do yoga in peace! Ambition In The City

“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” 
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Losing sight of your own uniqueness: Never Satisfied, Never Happy

“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.”― Aeschylus

Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.”

I had quite a reaction to this definition when I first read it out loud. As I read the words I wondered if I ever really  felt this strongly towards another human being. As I admitted that the answer to this question was YES, I began to ask myself,  where do these feelings come from and how can one  learn to use envy as a motivator rather than a distractor?

Envy often leers its ugly head when we perceive that we are lacking something in our lives that someone else has.  As human beings I think it is easy for individuals to feel envious of other people at one point or another. When we get this sense we tend to look at our own lives with dissatisfaction and thus project our feelings of unhappiness and resentment on the person we would like to compare to. As we focus our energy to think negative thoughts about the other person we lose sight of our own unique abilities, characteristics and accomplishments. By feeding into envy we allow ourselves to be pulled further away from our own potential for success.

So how do we reverse the negative effects of envy to motivate us to be better? Here are some helpful tips to combat the harmful side effects of envy.

  • Recognize and embrace your own individuality 
  • Learn to adopt the mindset that the success of others DOES NOT negate your own.
  • Look to those you admire for inspiration. Appreciate and Emulate.
  • Acknowledge the origin of your envy and use it to motivate you. Instead of letting envy distract you, let your drive to be better motivate you. 
  • Break the habit of making comparisons. Why waste your time comparing yourself to others? There is no better person to do the job of being you than you. 
  • Stay focused. Only you can ensure your own happiness. 
  • Enhance your skill set. Learning doesn’t stop the minute you graduate school. Learn from those around you and seek guidance from the people you want to emulate.
  • Determine a plan of action. How can I be better? Organizing ones plan of action is the first step to achieving the things you want. Be realistic and strategic 
  • Acknowledge  your limitations and learn to adapt. Determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie and make them work for you.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Those who succeed have put in the work. 
  • Give it your best and you will never feel disappointed. 

You are a unique individual with unique abilities and characteristics. There is no other person that is exactly the same as you. When you learn to be content with yourself and with the uniqueness you contribute to this world then and only then will you be truly happy.

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Friedrich Nietzche

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Friedrich Nietzche 

-Ambition In The City