Competition is bad for the society. It promotes selfishness and egocentric behaviour. Right from our childhood, our parents, teachers and the society in general, encourage us to compete. The better we compete, the more pats we receive. If we do not compete well, we are often neglected and those who are ahead in the competition get all the attention. Academics, sports and even extra-curricular activities foster competition. Even when we grow up and start our work life, we see competitiveness being rewarded at every step. The mass media only adds fuel to the raging fire by glorifying winners. The recent trend of reality TV shows is a case in point. All reality TV shows idiolise the winner, placing him on a pedestal in front of millions of audiences. He gets all the money, adulation and media attention.
With so much emphasis on winning, competitiveness has become a virtue and competition, a way of life. Little wonder then that we are becoming a selfish people. As a society, we are unhappy, unsatisfied and possess low esteem because we laud winning so much.
To be sure, competing in itself is not harmful. It is the attitude of “winning at any cost” that costs us our peace of mind and happiness. In other words, competitiveness is harmful to us only if we fail to remain objective about it. Being objective means accepting that only the efforts are in your control; the outcome is not.
On an individual level, the downside of so much emphasis on winning is a constant feeling of frustration, helplessness and anguish. Competing with only ‘winning’ in mind is a sure-shot prescription for stress.
But competitions, by their very nature, are unpredictable. We tend to forget that we have control only over our own minds and bodies. When we compete, we interact with so many others. Their talents, aptitudes and attitudes also affect us, either positively or negatively.
When we compete with only the end result in mind, then the outcome becomes more important than the actions. Since only one person [or one team] can win a competition, it follows that we want to see others lose. And the dictionary defines selfishness as: the act of placing one’s own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others. Thus, competitions make us selfish.
Ironically, while competitions promote being selfish, they also make us outside-oriented. Everything we do, we do with respect to others. This can never lead us to fulfilment. Winning and losing are external signposts.
In my opinion, to live fulfilling lives we must look inside us to understand if we’re enjoying what we’re doing. Shifting our attention from the outcome to the act of doing can lead to tremendous fulfilment. If we enjoy the process and are happy competing, we always win, regardless of the outcome of the competition.
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