Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Competition--Merits And Demerits.

Whenever I see images of sportsmen,or women in sports pages--their muscles taut,facial expression grim,stance defying the law of gravity and adrenalin oozing from every pore--I am overawed by the spirit which drives them.Fierce competition enables them to beat existing records and establish their supremacy.Undoubtedly,a competitive spirit has many benefits.It paves the way for self improvement,motivates us to do hard work,master new skills,give out good performances and win accolades.Competitions also spur innovative thinking,keep our enthusiasm alive and raise our self esteem; thereby contributing to our success and happiness.So far,so good.

Unfortunately a competitive spirit can also have negative effects.If carried to the extreme it will deprive us of rest and recreation.That's not all-it can also generate undesirable traits like jealousy and violent thoughts.Downturns or failures will be hard to digest possibly resulting in inertia and melancholy.Unbridled rivalry goads us to outshine everyone on our radar but there will always be someone who is smarter stronger,or more successful than us;this becomes a relentless chase allowing us little peace or satisfaction.

Today most of us struggle to compete on many fronts--be it education,career,society,friends or family.In order to present a specific image we strive to be seen living in plush houses,wearing branded apparels,patronizing elite clubs and knowing the most influential gentry in town.All this makes a huge dent in our resources and energy levels and still leaves a lot which we hanker for.When we chase so many targets all at the same time stress is inevitable.No wonder so many of us are not satisfied with our lot.But in order to be happy or successful,we need to satisfy our own urges ,do what we think is suitable and important for us,rather than trying to prove to the world at large that we excel in all that is considered the done thing. 


This craving to always eclipse everybody else is at it's worst when it is implanted in growing children's psyche.It is true that children have to be motivated from the very beginning to study hard and do well in life.But it is a crime to rob a child of the natural pleasures of childhood and instead make him into a robot whose only aim in life is to win every time.

When we implant a fierce competitive spirit in a child from the very beginning and expect him to be at the top in every activity we expose him to dispensable stress.Overenthusiastic parents who express their disappointment or displeasure when the child cannot touch the goals laid down by them may  in fact hinder it's progress by burdening it with additional stress and anxiety.Children have certain innate tendencies and predilections which could conflict with their parents' designs.

I am reminded here of a child who often came home dejected due to his friends' bullying.His mother asked him to give it back in kind,to which the child replied ' But I don't like violence and fighting.'His mother's disapproval of his behavior must have deepened his anguish at being bullied.

Actually children should be allowed to develop the spirit of competition at their own pace from their own volition.Too much pushing can distress them.Overburdening them with targets to be achieved,skills to be learned can leave them breathless.This is precisely what is happening today.As soon as schools close for vacations they line up a horde of activities to snare the students back inside their precincts.Dance,drama,debate, art,music,judo-karate-and God knows what else!The parents too vie with one another to have their child recognized as the brightest all-rounder.

But how many toppers can there be in any field?When we lay inordinate stress upon winning are we not relinquishing the rest to grapple with their feelings of disappointment and inferiority best as they can?If only we lay less stress on winning and more upon just doing our best and bettering our performance a lot of heart-ache can be avoided.After all there is a lot of fun in participating and being part of a group---or just BEING !!!!!!!!!!!

23 comments :

  1. Unfortunately in India there are few good opportunities for the vast population so the competition gets stiffer! Every one scrambles to be in the rat race! In rest of the world the scenario is not so scary!

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    1. Rahul thanks for reading n commenting.

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  2. A post after my heart..I always believed in hard work and efforts onlly..then whatevr the result be happy...a class can have only one topper but that doesnt mean rest are not good enough...
    Happiness is derived from satisfaction and hard work and healthy competition not by reaching the top only..BTW I love that ad from Bournvita..

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    1. Hi Renu,i am so glad you liked this post.Somehow i have the feeling that our thoughts on many issues are similar.Thanks for sharing your views.
      But Renu i don't like this ad for Bournvita.

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  3. Compitition is the essence....In fact that keeps us going.Imagine a scene where we would get positions without competing .
    Personally,I am very fond of Bourbita ad where mother runs with the child giving him encouragement in compitition.

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    1. It is good but it should not turn into an all-consuming passion.

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  4. I agree. Kids just need to be kids. With time, they will figure their own life out. Parents should be there to guid and encourage but not push to hard.

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  5. True, after all how many toppers can there be. One should strive for excellence but it should largely be a matter of choice. Some kids are ambitious but some inherently at peace. I am not competitive by nature. I am happy in my zone and so is my son. But the same rule need not apply to others. The right balance is the key, I guess. You can't have it all.

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    1. Very true Alka,like you say-those who dislike competition should be left in peace.Btw both i and my son also fall in the same category.

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  6. Agree with your words, Induji.
    I believe- We should compete with ourselves & try to be better than we were yesterday...
    Comparision & Competition do a lot of harm. Mr. Vikram Karve has also recently written about the same...

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    1. Anita thanks for coming over ,i would like to read his views.
      Lots of love.

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    2. Anita i have read the post--it is great--thanks.Icould not comment as the comment form was taking ages to open.

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  7. Long time back I wrote a post on the ART OF LOOSING.. you are right .. in a race only one wins rest have lost .. BUT the true beauty of win is only known to those who lost ..

    and one needs to take that as a challenge and then work hard and compete with themself to make one better and then take on the world tooo ..

    although I do think that Molly coddling kids is also not a good thing, in todays world when they will have to comepete at every step as they grow up , they need to be taught to be a GOOD LOSER ..

    what we need is a healthy competetion the problem comes when if we lose everyone starts to think of us as a loser , but if we have a good support of family and friends then that loss can actually be something that propells us to new heights by filling us with vigour to do good ..

    just my 2 scents of thought..


    Bikram's

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    1. Nice comment Bikram.You have given a very balanced view of both sides.I totally agree with you on molly-coddling,yet pushing kids too hard is also cruel.Difficult to strike a balance eh?

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  8. Aspiring to be the best that we can be in the areas that we want to do the best we can is the only way I have seen whereby you harness both the powers of competitiveness and do away with the ill-effects. Thankfully, I found that out pretty early in life; unfortunately, I also found that, when I left out impressing other people as a motivating factor, there was precious little that was left that I wanted to do :)

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    1. That's true Suresh.When we enjoy what we are doing then we do want to excel in it.
      Regarding your last line---enjoy! It is not everybody who can just chill out and relax :))

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  9. We have all gone past the spirit of participation unfortunately. It is a race and we are all rats in it..

    Richa

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  10. Push your child too hard and you end up depriving her of a happy childhood. Contentment and not success is the key to happiness.

    I think we should all teach our children to be kind and understanding.

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    1. I agree with you Purba.Today parents' priorities have changed drastically :(.
      Have a nice day,or is it a good night?

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  11. I know - been through that. I have lived most of my childhood trying to win the approval of my parents, trying to be top the class but falling short of the mark most of the time. The spirit is so ingrained in me that I burn myself trying to achieve something. Then the stress created the opposing surge of rebellion that makes me take random decisions that destroy everything I have worked for and start all over again from the bottom.

    I would not put my son through all that.

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    1. You belittle yourself but you have achieved A LOT Karthik.
      Me,i was at the opposite end--there was no pressure on me to do the best i can,but on complaints-my parents were genial folks.

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Thanks for reading my post.I hope you liked it :).