Are You Competing or Participating ?

This is a question that I was faced with at a time in my life when I started to get fit and join sports clubs in my area. I had never been really fit, I didn’t really know how to swim and I was slow at everything in comparison to my club mates. They had been training for years, Running, Biking and Swimming. The used to laugh at my heart rate, my red face in the pool, how slow I was around the track.

But they had different illusions than I. I wasn’t there with the goal to win races. I just wanted to take part. This low expectation, and the realisation that I couldn’t compete, allowed me to take their teasing in good spirits. I would end up laughing more than they.
I noticed I was easier on myself, I had more achievements and generally got more out of training than they did.
Over time I improved but I was never a competitor. The races that I did do, I was last or next to last. It didn’t matter to me. I was just happy to participate. In truth I was happy to finish.

It caused me to question my approach to life. I was working in a job I hated with people who were competitive in an environment that was much less forgiving. I saw people running after mortgages, promotions, the new car, the latest phone and it left me cold. I couldn’t do it. These things were out of my abilities and priorities. I was just trying to survive.

When I made a conscious decision to be a participant in life instead of a competitor every thing changed. I stop measuring myself to others through my own ignorance of their story or their experience. I found myself much calmer. It didn’t matter who loved me more, or who was better. I engaged more with people and learned from them to my own benefit.
My priorities changed so much that I now no longer have a favourite. I appreciate all. I have dropped the embarrassment around what I have or don’t have, or what I can do or can not do.

I have more appreciation for each individual and the story they tell. I have more down time. I am more creative and yes I am happier. I follow my passion my way, just trying to be the best me I can be today. Yesterday I can’t change. Tomorrow ? Well there might not be a tomorrow.
So today I will walk and see people animals and plants. I will hear music and silence. I will remind myself I am on a planet with 7.5 billion others. Why compete? To what end? I am only the best at me. That is the thing I do well. So I ask how , how is your competitiveness bringing you joy? How is your focus on the goal giving you happiness? Happiness and joy are now. So participate, share, laugh, support. Just for today, drop the competition and see how the others around you might just need your story, your experience. It’s a great help in cracking out of the circle.