Embracing Healthy Competition: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Competing in Life

Story: Car Competition and Family (Source: Google Baba)

Once upon a time, there was a family of four people (Father, Mother and 2 kids) who was travelling to a different city on vacation. They were chatting, laughing, eating and having fun with each other.

Suddenly the father (who was driving the car) realized that another car (same specification) passed by their car. While crossing the car, the driver of the other car looked into the eyes of the driver (father) of the first car as if he is challenging him to drive faster.

Somehow the father felt that the other car driver wants to compete with him and agreed to the challenge. Now the father also increased the speed of the car. The fun, excitement and pleasure in the family suddenly stopped as everyone in the car started focusing on winning the competition. Now, no one was talking to each other, the music in the car stopped, and the laughter was turned into silence.

The competition continued for more than an hour and after that, the first car (with family) could win the contest (although unknown!). The father was elated that he could win the car competition.

But in the process of winning, somewhere the charm of driving with family and the holiday mood was lost and vanished!

Moral of the story: Something similar happens in life too, wherein although there is no competition, we perceive that there is competition. In that process, we lose all our happiness and excitement, to win a contest, which was non-existent!

What is the Meaning of Competition?

Competition is comparison. All of life’s competitions are comparisons. We are constantly comparing each other and being compared to one another. We compare each other in choosing our friends, our lovers, who we want to support, who we want to oppose, and who we can safely ignore. Each of us ranks the winners and losers in our minds to make decisions. Comparison with others is key to competition. Someone has said that Competition is the thief of joy.

Competition in life generally refers to a situation where individuals or groups strive to outperform each other in a given domain, such as sports, academics, career, business, or other areas of life. It is considered a natural and inevitable part of human existence, where people compete for resources, recognition, rewards and social status.

Competition can be healthy and beneficial, as it can motivate individuals to work harder, learn new skills, and achieve their goals. It can also lead to innovation, creativity, and progress in various fields, as people try to come up with better solutions and ideas than their competitors.

However, competition can also have negative effects, such as causing stress, depression, suicide, anxiety, and social comparison, and can lead to unethical behaviour, cheating, and aggression. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between healthy competition and cooperation and to cultivate a mindset of growth and self-improvement, rather than just focusing on winning at all costs.

Whether Competition is Good or Bad?

We participate in a meaningless competition with every other person in the world. There is a general perception that competition is good as it brings out the best in us. But do we ever realize that when we are competing with someone, are we competing as per our capability and strength or in comparison to the capability & strength of the other person? When we compete as per the strength of the other person, we will never win and it will be a no-win situation. However hard we may try but we will never be successful and peaceful.

On the other side, if we understand our strengths and capabilities and compare ourselves against then it will be very easy to compete against ourselves and improve further.

Like in the above story, if we are driving a Mercedes car and the other person is driving a Maruti Suzuki car, we can compete with each other and the Mercedes car can easily beat the other car and can feel satisfied. But the bigger question is what the real strength of a Mercedes car is and whether it has been completely utilized or it is underutilized!

Similarly in the above story, if I am driving a Maruti Suzuki car and competing against a Mercedes car, first of all, there is a very high possibility that I may not win. Assume that I can win the contest but at what cost (time, energy, cost, peace of mind)? Is it worth competing with someone when I know that my capabilities are quite different from the other person’s?

So, there is no question of competition with others but only with me.

How to Avoid Feeling of Competition in Life?
We all are different human beings. The best way to avoid any feeling of competition is to identify your capability & capacity and check how much it is utilized and underutilized. Whatever the gap, we should work on ourselves and fill it. It is always good to inspire others and learn new things from them but never to compete with them.

If we look into the interview of great players from Cricket (Virat Kohli), Tennis (Roger Federer) or Football (Messi, Ronaldo), one common factor in all of them is that they are always talking about themselves and how they are challenging themselves to become better than yesterday.

Ultimately, the impact of competition in life depends on how it is approached and managed. When it is balanced with cooperation, sportsmanship, and a focus on self-improvement rather than solely winning, competition can be a positive force that helps individuals and society as a whole to grow and achieve their potential.

To do that gratitude, mindfulness and positive self-talk can play a very important role in our lives.
Enhance Competence: When we improve our competence, automatically, it enhances our confidence and it avoid us to fall into the trap of competition.
Practice Gratitude: A key element of giving blessings is being grateful for what you have. Practice gratitude in your daily life and learn to appreciate all of the good things in your life.
Meditate: Meditation can help you to focus your mind and clear your thoughts. This can help you to give/receive blessings that are more powerful and meaningful.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you to be more present and aware of the blessings in your life. Practice mindfulness regularly to help you to receive/give blessings more easily.


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