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“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.” —Anonymous

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We have all heard of “Keeping up with the Joneses” or we have been guilty of being envious of others.   Who hasn’t gone out and bought something newer and better than their best friend or neighbor purely based on envy or jealousy?  “He bought the iPhone 8 and I only had the iPhone 7.  So I went ahead and bout the X.”  This happens all the time, but why are we competing?

Why Do We Compete?

Society has kind of built up our need to compete.  Go to any juvenile recreational sporting events and listen to the parents talk on the side line.  “He is the best around.  No one is better.”  Go into work environments and watch workers compete for the manager’s attention and a raise.  Some workers even point out what others are not doing wrong in order to make themselves look better.  Hell, even Facebook set up a system where users compete for Likes on posts.  You may be thinking what’s the big deal there?  I am sure Facebook did not set up their Likes functionality for competitions, but that is what some have turned it into.  YouTube set up a subscriber count, which is a nice way to let everyone know how popular your channel is.  But people have turned that into a competition as well.  Look at the latest competition on YouTube between T-Series and Pewdiepie.  It was the talk of the town for some.

Who Are We Competing With?

Competition can happen between anyone, but typically happens with someone we believe to be at our same level.  For example, if you and your buddy are trying to start a company, but his company is more successful than yours, you could become jealous.  But why is that?  His company has nothing to do with yours.  Or maybe you and a friend started a YouTube channel and your friend’s channel already have over 100,000 subscribers where yours is only at 20,000.  People tend to feel this competitive nature, coupled with envy and jealousy, towards people they believe to be on their same level.  “I need to do better than them.”

Who Aren’t We Competing With?

We don’t tend to compete with, or become envious of, people that we believe to be on a completely different level.  For example, you only have 20,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel, where Pewdiepie has over 93 million subscribers.  Are you jealous or envious of him?  Probably not, as you are on different levels and you don’t know him personally.  Thus, there really is no competition there.  Are you ever envious or jealous of your priest or pastor for how successful they are at speaking or motivating people?  Or how many people respect them?  Probably not, as a priest or pastor is on a different level and not even seen as your “competition.”

Competition Is Good

Don’t get me wrong.  Competition is a good thing.  It makes us strive to be better, work harder, and make positive changes to help us reach our goals.  We need competition.  Competition is fun.  Competition will ensure we have the best resources at our finger tips.  Someone who is in the lead sets the bar for where we want to be.  Competition is great but can be experienced the wrong way.

The Wrong Way

Competition is experienced the wrong way when we let jealousy and envy take over our minds.  No one likes to lose nor do we want to be second place in anything we do.  But when losing or coming in second brings out the worse in us, that is when a wrong turn was made.  It is obvious that there is no room for happiness in your life if you are constantly consumed by envy and jealousy.  I listen to my kids get really mad when they lose a FIFA Soccer game on X-Box.  It makes me question why they even play if it makes them so mad. With that much anger, how could happiness fit in?

Compete With Yourself

We need to measure our progress, not others.  We need to see where we are today and then measure our progress towards our goals tomorrow.  If I have 20,000 subscribers on YouTube and my goal by the end of the week is 30,000 subscribers, I should be measuring my success from today to tomorrow, not how many subscribers my buddy got on his channel.  There is no shortage of subscribers just like there is no shortage of money.  We don’t need to try to be better than anyone else.  We should simply try to be better than ourselves.  We have to measure our own progress, figure out where we need to improve and adjust, and then keep going.

Final Thoughts

There will be no room for happiness in your life if you are consumed by envy and jealousy.  If competition takes over your thoughts, you will lose focus on what it really takes to be successful and happy.  You can control your progress and growth from day to day, not your competition’s.  Keep your focus on trying to be better than you were yesterday.  Reflect on what you did right and what you did wrong.  Find happiness in joy in your own growth.  Don’t waste cycles competing against a friend or being envious of their success.  Remove jealousy and envy from your life by understanding that you need to grow as an individual and you are your toughest competition.  Once you understand this, there will be plenty of room for joy and happiness in your life.

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