I think this is Fascinating! You?

Isn’t that fascinating!

I was recently having a conversation with someone, who was telling me about something that was really fascinating to them. I could tell they truly were fascinated because of the emphatic way in which they were describing the event. Of course, it was something that was unfolding on a newscast and pertained to politics, both of which are major turn-offs for me these days; my thoughts were wanting to go someplace else. Eventually, I lost the battle of trying hard to listen and let my thoughts drift where they wished.

Surprisingly enough, where my thoughts took me were somewhere fascinating. No, literally fascinating, because I People on cellphonesthought about the word itself and what is fascinating to me. Naturally, before they had finished speaking I had already formulated my response, which I hate doing because it means that I wasn’t listening, right? Okay, that’s my confession for the day; now on to my response.

You know what I find fascinating?

So, you think that’s fascinating, huh? You know what I think is fascinating? I think that my life is fascinating. Each day I wake, I find a whole new set of challenges. There are so called “bad things” that occur and there are also “good things” that occur. Generally, it is some combination of the two. When you wake every morning, you just never know what the mix of bad and good might be that day. Isn’t that fascinating? With so much fascination contained within my own life, I just can’t imagine why someone would want to turn on the television and watch the fascination with someone else’s life.

Now don’t get me wrong: I totally understand how it is easy to get caught up in these moments. Back in the day, it was just television that drew people into this situation, but today we have social media which just begs us to get fascinated with other’s lives.

It’s you.

Person in silhouette of tv screen of white noiseAs a person who likes to promote happiness within people, I want to ask you: What are you fascinated with? Is it your own life? Through my life, I have known and met a lot of people. Enough to know that all of us have fascinating lives. I like to think of them as stories, fascinating stories. And that’s it. Because each day holds an adventure for each and every one of us. Please make sure that you enjoy your adventure, and if you are fascinated with another’s story, that’s okay; just don’t be consumed by it. Remember, you’re life is fascinating.

Don’t be a Cow! Become fascinated with your own life.

Soulful Quote: ” … don’t be fooled by the radio, the TV or the magazines/ They show you photographs of how your life should be/ But they’re just someone else’s fantasy”  – Songwriter Dennis De Young. Lyrics from the song “Grand Illusion”

Song: Grand Illusion, Styx

Game Exercise/Life Changer: A toughie this week. Go one day without television or social media. Then throughout the day as you pick up your phone to check social media, ask yourself what is the fascination with my life? Believe me. it’s there; you just need to take time to find it.

 

 

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11 BOOKS to read to improve your social skills

Man speaking in front of a group

We are thrilled to be included in this list of books to read to improve social skills.

And we’re in very good company. Please take a moment to look at the list, make a comment or share. It will mean a lot to us. And if you don’t have a copy of Don’t Be a Cow! or would like to share with a friend or family, be sure and take a look!

Many folks have told us we have already empowered them to “find their own paths.

 

Procrastination: Are you guilty? Would you like to end the control it has over your life?

fighting procrastination concept - do it phrase on color sticky notes posted on a cork bulletin board

There are actually two types of procrastination that I learned recently:

  1. Procrastination with deadlines – with this type of procrastination the effects are contained due to the deadline itself
  2. Procrastination without deadlines – with this type of procrastination the effects are not contained, as there is no deadline. This type of procrastination is long-term, can lead to unhappiness, and regrets. He says “the frustration was not that they could never achieve their dreams, but that they couldn’t even start chasing them.”

We all Procrastinate.

I learned this from a great presentation by Tim Urban, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.” Tim goes on to say that he thinks that we are all procrastinators to some extent. I tend to agree; however, I don’t believe that this is a function of procrastination as much as it is a function of not really knowing what it is you want. It is the ole “what do I want to be when, I grow up?” (when your 60). Sometimes it might sound more like this: “when I retire, I’m going to do ‘X.’” If you can procrastinate for 30+ years until you retire, I would say that you are a pretty good procrastinator.

I think this goes beyond procrastination: I call this “cowism.” It’s going through life not thinking about what it is you really want to do and be (Wait for retirement? Really?). 

What happens when we don’t think about what it is WE want to do? We end up following the lead of others. Someone give me a ‘moo’ please, MOOOOOO! Thank you!   

When did we get here?

“How could this happen, and certainly not me!” I hear you say. Careful, it creeps up on you so very subtly, and it can go on for many years. It’s no wonder why so many people feel like they are going through life not living up to their full potential. Feeling like something is missing. Because they are.

The Don’t Be A Cow! lifestyle is the answer. As I lay out in our interactive book, I’m going to share with you a Soulful Quote and Song.

Soulful Quote: From the lyrics from “The Impossible Dream” Man of La Mancha

“This is my quest, to follow that star

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

To be willing to give when there’s no more to give

To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live

And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to rest”

What is your quest?

Song: Digging deep for this one: “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright

Game Exercise/Life Changer: What’s your dream? What do you want?  Find a quiet comfy place maybe even include some comfort food, lean back and allow yourself to dream. Don’t allow the voices of the herd to creep in and tell you things like “it’s unrealistic” just dream and enjoy the moment.

BONUS: Check out Tim Tebow talk about his new book, “This is the Day.”

Have You Checked Your Pride Lately?

What I ‘m talking about is internal pride: That pride that gives us self-confidence, makes us believe in ourselves, and makes us happy and productive individuals.

This time of the year there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of pride in the air. It’s often easy to see pride displayed when it comes to our favorite ball team. But, what about when you look in the mirror? Pride is something we often don’t think about on a daily basis, but pride provides the foundation to who we are. Pride can be a very positive asset; it can also be somewhat detrimental as I think we have all see this displayed in the sporting world.

What I want to talk about, however, is that internal pride. The pride that gives us self-confidence, makes us believe in ourselves and makes us happy and productive individuals.

Which would you prefer?

Now, how I came upon this particular subject matter at this time was from listening to a local radio program. The deejays – I guess they still call them that – were discussing a poll that asked people if they were given the choice of someone giving them a million dollars or the choice to work and earn a million dollars which would they choose? In both cases, a million dollars was guaranteed and there were no specifics on time; therefore, you would have been given the million dollars in the same time span that it would have taken to earn the million dollars.  So, which would you choose?

I was in disbelieve that the majority of people would rather be given a million dollars than to be given the opportunity to earn a million dollars. This is the perfect example of pride, or should I say, the lack thereof.

We all accomplish many things each and every day. Yes, many of these may seem rather small and of no value, but our daily accomplishments fuel the pride that should exist within us all.

Photo of Peggy Wills the "We Can Do it" Model for the poster

Peggy Wills, the “We Can Do It!” Girl

Give yourself some credit

We as humans build on our accomplishments through life. It is these accomplishments that give us a sense of worth, and ultimately, give us self-confidence and pride. What accomplishment is achieved from someone giving you something? The problem is, we develop this disillusion that our accomplishments need to be on the scale of earning a million dollars, and if not, then we consider it useless. When we refuse to give ourselves credit for our daily accomplishments, no matter how big or small, we can develop a sense of worthlessness. A feeling of worthlessness can lead to many places: none of which is good.

I’m fearful that in today’s world, with so much sensationalizing from television and social media, there are far too many people that don’t understand. Hence, why so many people are willing to just be given the million dollars? Remember, when given the million dollars, the worthlessness still exists. It’s just in a bigger nicer house.

I would rather earn $100 than be given a $1,000,000, because the $100 is worth so much more!

I feel like this has had to have been said by someone before me and if so I apologize for not giving credit: If not, heck I’ll take credit! Hey an accomplishment woo who!

Make your Bed.

Navy Seal Admiral Mc Raven explained at a University of Texas commencement why making your bed every day means you accomplish something  at the start of every day.  Accomplishments don’t have to extraordinary but when you stack all of yours on top of one another you have quite a few. Let accomplishments serve as the base for your pride.

Accomplishments are to be built upon and not rested upon. And yes, there are some days where making out bed would be a great accomplishment. I’ve had days where I’ve thought merely making it out of bed was a great accomplishment.

In our Book, Don’t Be a Cow!, our interactive guide on finding happiness, we share soulful quotes and game exercises for each day’s topic. Here’s one for this blog post:

Soulful Quote: 

“If the accomplishments of yesterday are still a big deal to you today, then you haven’t done much today” 

Mikhail Gorbachev

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Make a list of your accomplishments, give special attention to the small ones (at least small in your mind – likely not so small in the minds of others). Use this list as your pride check and use your pride check to improve your self -confidence.

… and if you want to pursue your own path to happiness, or know someone who could use a little encouragement, please consider purchasing Don’t Be a Cow! 

Do you make time for yourself? Meditate

Clock with the words Make time for what matters

Ancient Chinese Proverb: Meditate for 20 minutes every day, if you don’t have 20 minutes meditate for 60 minutes every day.

On my journey through life, I can’t over emphasis the importance of taking a little time everyday for yourself. It’s really easier than you think to get started. First, forget everything you have ever heard or seen about meditating. Forget about the 20 minutes or any set amount of time. It is as easy as doing the Game Exercise below every day. (In our book, Don’t Be a Cow!, every day ends with a Game Exercise)

Soulful Quote:“Remember: In life time is all you really have, and you are your greatest asset. Doesn’t it make sense to spend time with your greatest asset-You?” Yours truly.

Jim Croce musicianSong:  “Time in a Bottle” – Jim Croce

Sing it to yourself! (That should be entertaining! – remember I love laughing and keeping things light-hearted)

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Each day this week, take time out of your day for you. This may even be a pause while sitting at your desk, on a walk, lying in bed prior to falling asleep. Or when you first wake up … or the shower – it’s always a good spot! You may even want to slip off and buy yourself an ice cream cone or some other treat. I’m certain you deserve it.

If it has been awhile since you have spent time with yourself, try answering these questions:

            ❋ Who am I?

            ❋ What do I enjoy doing?

            ❋ What do I love doing?

            ❋ Who do I like being with?

           ❋ What would I eat/drink everyday if it weren’t for dietary restrictions?

Have fun with it! Put no limitations on your answers. i.e. “I enjoy ‘X’ but it costs too much.”

And if you want to take it to the next level, actually write your answers down, and think of other questions you would like to ask yourself. This will begin the process of spending time with you. Who knows, you might discover another you. 🙂

– Joe

 

Be Who You Are! The first step in living a life of happiness!

Be Yourself Quote from Isaac Newton

“Happiness is actually an art of living, which is in us.”

It sounds so simple, right? Be yourself. Be unique. The fact is, I imagine almost everyone struggles with it at times, if not often, within their life time. Why? Because the problem is that when we are truly ourselves, our uniqueness will shine through. This uniqueness makes us different. Although this uniqueness should make us shout from the mountain tops, it often has just the opposite effect. I think some of that stems from a simple matter of semantics: Being “unique” has a nice ring to it; however, when we see ourselves as being “different,” often we have the tendency to go negative and feel “like an odd ball,” or someone who isn’t liked. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Why? Your friends are your friends because of your uniqueness, not in spite of it.

Just remember: your friends are your friends for your uniqueness. If it were for your sameness – and we were all the same – then everyone would be everyone’s friend and eveyone would be the same. My head hurts.

How to: It begins with risk, as in are you willing to risk being seen as who you truly are?

Risk has always been a fascinating word to me. When looking at risk from a dictionary definition, risk always equates with danger or adverse circumstances. But, there is another side to risk. It is the side that also holds the potential for great things to happen. Sometimes it feels like we risk our lives for the great thrill of a roller coaster ride. But there are times when we truly do risk our lives, for better or worse. What I really like about risk is that it is this great balancing act between the possibility of a negative outcome and a great outcome.

In the world of finance, this great balance is described as risk vs. return. In finance this balance is directly correlated. This means that the greater the risk the greater the return. Like Newton’s Law’s of Relativity, this law of risk vs. return is absolute. ( Note: believe in this law. Anytime someone offers you great returns on an investment, the risk is directly correlated. Just like the saying “going out on a limb,” we also have “if it’s too good to be true …” both adages based in truth, and risk vs. reward.) But this is an blog on happiness not finance, right? So what does all this have to do with happiness?

It’s really quite simple: If you want an abundance of happiness in your life, be willing to take the risk. A lot of it. You see, I think most of us live somewhere in the middle. We are willing to risk somethings, sometimes; however, often it’s hard to make the next step toward “risking” being happy. Therefore we have good days and bad days.Take the next step. Take the risk in becoming happier.

In our book Don’t Be A Cow! at the end of each chapter we offer a Soulful Quote and Song to round out that day’s exercise. Here’s a quote and a song for today’s blog:

Soulful Quote: “Cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far to stand in the light and be seen as we are” -from the song,  “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith

Song: “Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Change – Change to a Happier You

I am always humored when I hear people say things to the effect, “I’m not going to change, I like being the way I am,” or “It’s not going to change me.” News Bulletin: Change occurs, you don’t have a choice in the matter. The only say you have in the matter is in which direction do you wish to change. You basically have three choices:

  • Direct my change to where I want to go
  • Change how others want me to be
  • Happenstance – just drift around going wherever the currents take you

Change Happens

For those who have their heels dug in refusing to submit to change, I suggest you go back and take a look at some photos of yourself, family and friends (people you see on a regular basis) that are five, ten years old. This is really a good exercise for us all to do from time to time. Change is often so slight, so incremental that it goes totally unnoticed.

When we start embracing the change that is naturally occurring in our lives on a daily basis, we can then begin to manage it, lest I say actually control it – well at least in part. There will always be things in our life that are beyond our control.

Use this Technique

Same tree 15 years later

Same tree, fifteen years later

Remember doing fractions in school? Reducing everything down to its ‘least common denominator”? This is also a major philosophy employed in problem solving. Strip away all the minutia, all the distractions surrounding the issue, and get down to the core of the problem.

Now let’s try to apply this technique to change in our lives. Let’s reduce it down to its least common denominator. Change occurs daily (actually by the minute and by the second, but we won’t go there!) For this exercise, I am also assuming you have chosen the first bullet from the list above and want to direct the change in your life, for this is the only way to a happier you.

We must first strip away everything down to the least common denominator. And in the case of change, since it occurs daily, it only makes sense that we consider only the changes of today – this day.

How might this look in our lives?

  • I need to eat healthy today
  • I need to exercise today
  • I need to put a little money into savings today
  • I need to call an old friend today
  • I need to ………………………. today

Does this seem ridiculously simplistic?  Maybe, I also understand that you may say this works with some things but not all things. But remember, problem solving techniques work on all types of problems. Whether its math, what to wear or changing a hairstyle, even a job,  problem solving is a logical sequence of procedures to, well, solve a problem. No matter the problem, it always works.

Putting it to work

Let me put in context from the list above. Today “I am going to exercise and eat healthier.” Doesn’t that sound much easier and more doable then, “I have to lose ten pounds this month”? I get started, I’ve made the commitment to do this diet and jog every day. I will do this by diet and jogging every day.

Day one I sprain my knee. So much for that plan. What next? Change to a new plan!

To incorporate the Don’t Be A Cow!lifestyle into your life, you must learn to embrace and direct the change in your life on a day-to-day basis.

Because remember:

  • “Today is all you have, yesterday is gone, and tomorrow never comes!”

Soulful Quote:“We are the change we seek” President Barack Obama

Song:(From Day 28 – Don’t Be A Cow!)Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude. Jimmy Buffett

Game Exercise/Life Changer:Look back at some old photographs, take one or several with you today so you can look at them throughout the day. Make a mental note: “I have changed.” Then give yourself one little thing to change for only today.

*An exercise guaranteed to help you live a happier life!!

Don’t Be A Cow!Be You, Be Happy!

Self-Awareness | Keys to Happiness

I believe in me text with heart in background for self-awareness

Lately, I’ve seen a good number of articles floating through email pertaining to self-awareness.

And of particular interest to me are the articles correlating self-awareness to happiness. As I scan these articles, it’s not the particulars of each one that stands out, nor is it the commonality or the stark contrast that stands out. What stands out to me, is how we humans have the remarkable ability to make the complex out of the simple.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put anyone down. These articles share good insight, and the supporting research provides validity to the simple-minded such as myself. We even posted one such article on our “insights to happiness” blog on dontbeacow.com. I just feel that too often this type of article overthinks things.

Let me demonstrate my simple-minded approach to correlating self-awareness and happiness:

First of all, let’s break it down into the individual components:

  • Self – One’s own being, consisting of the mind, the body and the soul (or spirit if you prefer)
  • Awareness – Understanding that the soul is the only one of the three that you control 100% of the time, and you certainly can’t control anything beyond the self
    • The Mind – It gets too much influence and commentary from outside sources to be controllable. Plus, the mind likes to do things like make simple things complex to make itself feel smarter;
    • The Body – It can become sick or injured from outside sources far beyond our control;
    • The Soul – It is always beautiful if, like cream, we allow it to rise to the top;
  • Happiness – When you live your life always remembering and being self-aware (yes it requires practice but that’s okay). i.e. stop trying to control things outside of your control.

Now, a few examples:

  • First day of vacation, the body gets a virus. The mind is angry about wasting valuable time off, the soul relishes in the much-needed rest.
  • A beautiful Saturday morning with a final exam on Monday. The mind is anxious because students from the semester before say how hard the final is; the body is worn from a semester of long study especially the past week; the soul understands you know the material front ways and back, and longs to spend the beautiful day with friends and understands the break from study will actually help the brain at test time.
  • The mind worries about tomorrow, a week from now and retirement. The body wears from the worries of the mind, the soul understands that tomorrow never, ever comes no matter how hard we plan; therefore, the soul relishes in the moment!

Finally: How to Get Started

Self awareness Image of a frog made of bronze meditating near a body of water.

  • Meditate daily.It is the only way to shut out the noises of the mind and body. This also takes practice, but be persistent. As with anything, start small; 3 to 5 minutes at a time. The soul will provide step-by-step instructions tailor-made just for you.
  • Believe, believe, believe. Never stop believing!

The cream that rises to the top from within is what we like to call Happiness!

And to get on the path to Happiness, pick up a copy of “Don’t Be a Cow!” my interactive guide to true happiness today!

Tweet, tweet, tweet

Keys to Happiness : Tweet, tweet, tweet

Tweet. Ah, the sweet sounds of the song bird as the sun rises or their signal at dusk of another day’s end. Is there anything as simple or pleasurable as listening to the song of a bird?

But, I know not all of you were thinking about birds when you read tweet, tweet, tweet. How words change meanings over time. Today, I am not interested in how words change over time. No, today I want to look at how a large portion of our lives have changed over the past 10 to 15 years.

Birds chirping in the tree, illustrationTweet. Is there anything as simple or pleasurable as listening to the song of a bird? Tweet. Is there anything more complex in the modern world than social media and all of its nuances?

In years past, life was much simpler, in spite of the lack of today’s modern conveniences and technology. Yes, I understand that part of that nostalgia is a function of age, namely mine; however, even if you are proficient at Insta-this, Face-that, Pinning and tweet, tweet, tweet you have to admit that there is a lot going on within the social media world. Much of this information isn’t even pertinent to our lives; It certainly doesn’t appear to make life any easier. It seems it’s just information out there that absorbs much of our cerebral space, and much of it puts us into comparison/competition mode (see Keys to Happiness: Winning). It can be exhausting just thinking about it.

Again, I ask, is there anything as simple or pleasurable as listening to the song of a bird? Maybe. Read on!

A quick observation:

women circ 1950s drinking coffeeRecently, I was early for an appointment and had a few minutes to spare, so I decided to pop into a local coffee shop, sit down and enjoy a good cup of joe, which I normally would get to go. The shop was quite full, but I was able to find a seat. I had left my phone in the truck and decided not to go back and fetch it. After all, the world could go on without me for 30 minutes. Besides, I always enjoy people-watching and a full coffee shop offered just the place – almost as good as an airport! A good cup of joe and the occasion to observe my fellow human beings. Life was good! Little did I know, I was in for a big disappointment.

As I looked around, trying to be somewhat discreet (nothing worse than getting busted when someone starts watching back), I was amazed to see 99% of the patrons were staring at a device of some sort: a phone, pad, laptop, and one device I seriously couldn’t figure out what it was.

The one percent was me. Now, I am not naturally a very conversational person, but in a situation like this, I will usually try to strike up a conversation with someone as long as the person appears to be somewhat approachable. Nope, not today, not in this coffee shop. Not only did no one look approachable, I could hardly even see a face, as they were so buried in their devices. Even people who appeared to be there together, weren’t talking to each other. Of course, this lack of activity made for some boring people-watching; however, I became so fascinated with it, and curious how long it would last, that I ended up being late for my appointment! I will say that this phenomenon lasted the entire time I was there with not one. word. spoken. There were even two people sitting at the same table who got up and left without saying a word to one another. It was as though there was some type of mental telepathy between them signaling “time to leave.” Of course, all of this lack of conversation got me thinking (I can hear Jane sighing now!).

Is there anything as simple or pleasurable as listening to the song of a bird?

Kids in line looking down at their phonesBecause of our devices, we are now able to carry our own little world around with us everywhere we go. In so doing, how many other worlds are we missing out on? I thought beyond this coffee shop and all the other places and opportunities where we no longer engage with other human beings. Below are a few, from recent memory:

  • Airline flight – The conversations with the person sitting next to you. Now everyone has headsets, blocking out all around them. Back in the day we had to engage in conversation out of shear boredom.
  • The local Watering Hole – After 5, that is, or at least after work anyway. I had to check my theory, and much to my chagrin, I found the same situation I experienced at the coffee shop. Even the bartender kept checking her phone once she knew everyone’s glass was full. I even tried staring at one person and they never even knew I was starring at them. Ha! I’m not a stalker, this was a test!
  • The grocery store – I was bent over getting something, as someone approached from behind talking. I started talking back in response, as she had asked a question. As I stood upright and turned around, I discovered she had been asking the question of the person with whom she was on the phone.
  • Standing in line. Anywhere – And the list goes on and on. I would  love to hear where you have noticed a lack of conversation in your life.

Is there anything as simple or pleasurable as the song of a bird? Yes!

Conversations with total strangers, for one. Think about it. Going in, you know that you are going to walk away from that conversation and likely never see that person again. No biases or prejudices going in or coming out; No strings attached, no agenda, no need to impress and no need to be impressed. Just a simple conversation with another human being about anything or maybe even about nothing. A brief divergence out of your own world and into someone else’s.

Has the erosion of the art of conversation made us less tolerant of others?

Strangers at park having a conversationI like to think of these encounters as meaningless conversations. I like to refer to them as meaningless because they are harmless, but by no means are they meaningless. In fact, as I have already eluded, these conversations have great meaning: What they do is allow us to enter into someone else’s world, someone else’s space. We do this without trying to convert them to some other way of thinking or try to understand a point of view. That’s not what these conversations are about. And, in any event, most of the time if they say something you disagree with, just smile and nod (Yes, I understand that there are people out there who will argue with a brick wall if given a chance). But, why argue? While standing in line or waiting for your plane? What is the point? Just listen and talk; It’s about as simple as it gets.

These conversations – with no judgment or preconceived notions – will bring more meaning and satisfaction into our lives than many of us realize. Wow, could we use some more of that in the world.

I love having my phone and having access to friends and family at anytime. I also love setting it aside at times and engaging a stranger in some meaningless conversation. I hope you will do the same. With so many complexities in life, try enjoying some of the simple and pleasurable ones, and see how much happier your life becomes.

Who knows, maybe one day you and I will bump into each other and engage in a meaningless conversation! Cheers!

A. Regular Joe

Keys to Happiness: Winning

Winning Cup

“Winning isn’t Everything. It’s the Only Thing!”

“There is No Such Thing as a Moral Victory!”

What a time of year for the sports enthusiast! The 2018 baseball season is catching full stride, there are playoffs in hockey and basketball, the NFL draft, the professional golf tour is in full swing, no pun intended (okay maybe it is :-). And, for the non-professional enthusiast out there, you’ve got college and high school softball, baseball, and track that are wide open, and youth baseball and softball diamonds are full … and lest I forget, summertime swimming leagues.

Today, so much of our lives are built around the sports world. There is absolutely something for everyone, as the above-mentioned list didn’t even mention tennis, soccer, bicycling, cricket … well, I think you get the point. Now I know that even with all the options available, there are many of you out there who are still not impressed. Just never got into the sports “thing.” That’s fine, I have found my own interest has waned quite considerably over the last several years; however, there is no escaping the impact that sports and athletics have on our society.

I admit it, I’m a sports junkie

Before I continue, I must admit that I have always been somewhat of a sports junkie. Much more so as a kid than I am now. Beyond the actual competition, which I love, there are so many life lessons contained within the sports world. But, sometimes I do wonder, if somehow, we have allowed the sports mentality to enter into the other parts of our lives, and vice versa? Do we turn other aspects of our lives into a competition? The win-at-all-cost attitude, after all, for some people, it is the “only”thing. Maybe we treat our sports with too much emphasis, taking it too seriously? Instead of treating it as recreation, which it is? (Excluding, of course, that small percentage of those for whom sports is a living).

Two cases, to illustrate the point

Kevin Costner drops the ball in the film Tin Cup

Kevin Costner, in the film, Tin Cup.

Here are two cases to illustrate the point I’m making: One from the cinema; the other from television. (This is sort of ironic for me because I watch very little of either tv or movies.) The first comes from the movie Tin Cup starring Kevin Costner. Costner is a professional golfer with a chance to make it onto the big tour. To do so, he must win the tournament he is currently playing. He is playing the last hole, and all he has to do is hit a safe shot short of a lake, then a nice short shot over the lake onto the green, make a two putt and he wins. Okay, to the layman maybe not so simple; however, he’s a professional and he tells his caddie, “I can reach the green from where I am, I don’t need to lay up,” (a golf term for this particular type of shot). His caddie begs him to lay up and roll to victory. But, Costner can’t do it. He knows he can make this shot – in his mind –  he has to make this shot. He goes for it, and naturally, it finds the lake.

“Play it safe. And win”

His caddie says, “that’s okay you still got this, just play it as we talked about before.” I might also mention that as this is unfolding the sportscasters and analysts are berating his actions. They agree with the caddie. The crowd is also mumbling the same, “play it safe, and win.” The crowd had been pulling for him because he was such an underdog. He looks at his caddie and says, “I can make this shot.” He drops another ball down (the penalty for hitting the ball into the water hazard) and yes, hits it into the lake. He continues to hit several more balls into the lake and has totally eliminated himself from competition. Alas, he drops a ball and hits it like he should have done the first time and it rolls up on the green to within a few feet of the hole. The crowd roars, the media people rejoice as everyone watching has now been emotionally drawn into his struggles. It’s as though everyone can all of a sudden relate to the struggling golfer. They have all realized that maybe there was something going on here larger than the game of golf. At first, they think he is merely having an ego trip, trying to do something against the odds. When in actuality, all he was really trying to do was prove to himself that he could actually do something he believed he could do. Is winning always about out-doing a competitor or is winning about internal victories?

Is It Worth It?

The second illustration comes from the sitcom, Everyone loves RaymondRaymond’s daughter is in the Girl Scouts, and Boxes of Girl Scout cookiesit is Girl Scout cookie time. Raymond vows that this year his daughter is going to be the number one seller of cookies. In the past, another girl has taken this honor as her mother makes sure her daughter gets the prime location at the grocery store and wherever else Raymond and his daughter might go to sell cookies. On this occasion, Raymond and his daughter get to “the spot” early and claim it. The other woman and her daughter arrive and make claim to the spot. It ends with a big fight between the two adults – all to see which girl can come out victorious in the Girl Scout cookie sale. Yes, I understand that nowadays they can get some pretty nice prizes for selling ‘X’ number of cookies, and yes, I realize that this was just a show, but I think we can all agree we see similar things played out in life every day.

This is what I refer to as bringing the competitive sports world into other aspects of our lives. Isn’t the point of selling cookies to raise money for the Girl Scouts and its mission? Aren’t both parents supposed to be working towards the same goal? Shouldn’t they be wanting to help each other and help their daughters succeed? Look around in your life, work, church, school, social circles, and volunteer organizations; I think you will find plenty of examples.

“Winning isn’t Everything. It’s the Only Thing.”

Yes, as long as you are the one who defines winning. To Costner, winning was internal. It was more important to him to be able to make that shot then to win the tournament. When we define winning as overcoming those internal battles, it is okay to extend it beyond the athletic field. When winning is about out-doing a competitor, it is best left on the athletic field.

“There is no such thing as a moral victory.”

Maybe true on the athletic field, but I hope you won’t allow athletics to carry over to the rest of your life. For a happy life, winning (overcoming the internal battles) is a moral victory!

Jane & I hope that you won’t allow the herd to define winning for you. We also hope that you can remember when you are involved in an athletic competition and when you aren’t!

Don’t Be A Cow, Be Happy!

Joe

Related: The Story behind the infamous ‘Tin Cup’ scene