Compete with yourself
Everyone seems to be in a zone of competition nowadays. Even music which most of us used to play and listen just to enjoy is now being taken too seriously removing the joy factor from it.
Some time back, my husband was a regular marathoner. He always took part in most marathons around him. He was busy at work too so he hardly had time to attend training sessions but just went there directly.
At one such marathon, the participants were from many nations and Nigerians also had participated. My husband did try to keep pace with them but just could not as their pace was too swift. After the event, one Nigerian came near him and gave him a tip he has not forgotten till today. This was nothing on fitness or nutrition but a mental tip relevant to all of us.
“Enjoy running Sir. Do not keep trying to keep pace with others by stretching, sometimes overstretching yourself. I have trained for a month and besides I was running even before. Running is a way of life for us Nigerians like studying is for you Indians. This does not mean I can’t study or you cannot run but we both need to enjoy it and not just do it for competing” he said and smiled.
After this incident, this unknown Nigerian has become a sort of guru for my husband and our family for he had given all of us an authentic piece of wisdom.
Compete with yourself, not with others
Competition is definitely good if applied properly. The best person to compete with is ourselves as we know our own limits so this is indeed the best mantra to follow,
Whenever my children competed academically or in other events, the mantra was the same. “Compete with yourself and never with others”. This certainly helped us and them in leading a complete life without too much stress added on to any area of life. Whenever my friends ask me how we managed to keep our children stress free even during the board exams, our answer is taking the gyan we got from our Nigerian guru, “Do not stretch yourself too much”
We all are made differently and therefore have different skills. I remember the movie Three Idiots, where the protagonist tells his friends, “Imagine what would have happened if Lata Mangeshkar (the famous singer) would have been asked to play cricket and Sachin Tendulkar, the well known cricketer would have been asked to sing”. This of course was in the context of engineering exams but it is applicable in all areas of life. In the area of studies, people wish to only score more marks than others, whether or not they have understood the concept. In art also, many people do not wish to work on improving their skills but just wish to get better marks than others.
This is using competition in the worst possible way for if we compete with ourselves, miracles could and do happen as the benchmark is created by our own selves.
Dangers of excess competition
Stress levels are increasing too much even among people with no real problem but the created problem of competition with another. This has led to too many people not even knowing who they are and what they are looking for. This often leads to addictions and bad habits too. What then is the solution ? That too is within us as we alone can figure out how to lead our lives. This can and does come only with introspection. Using an oft repeated ditty, “We have the power”, we do indeed have the power if we listen to our own selves as we are a limited edition unique piece.
“Everybody competes”, is the worst cliche of all to justify this tendency. .Fitting in with the crowd can be done even by robots. Surely we do not wish to be one among many but stand out in the crowd not by competing but by listening to our own selves. It is a fact that most geniuses listen to their own selves and not others. In our natural state, we do wish to keep learning. An example is a young child left alone in a park. Almost all of them end up learning something for somebody as they are just listening to their own selves. We often keep this natural ability suppressed due to ‘wordly pressures’. This again is something which we can defy only by creating an original life with our inner voice as the primary guide.
When we finish our journey of life, we may think why we listened to others and not our own selves for we all are sent with an inner guide by the creator. It is time we made use of it more and more.
By Jamuna Rangachari