It’s part of human nature to compete. From somewhere circa 700s BC we’ve been testing our physical prowess and strength through the Olympic Games, and flash forward to today- a healthy sense of competition can still be a great asset. But, what happens when our competitive nature causes us to feel an overwhelming need to keep up with, or even stay above everyone else in our work, our relationships, our monetary possessions, or our style?
All it takes is a scroll through any social media site to kick that competitive urge into high gear. There are so many people talking about what they have or what they’re doing, creating, and promoting. Are we truly happy for them, or do our hearts twinge with a feeling of self-defeat because we haven’t done anything warranting a Facebook-official celebration lately?
These feelings can drive us to a repetitive quest to always stay on top – to look better, do more, achieve greater results, or at the least keep up appearances that we are. This exhausting loop can lead to frustration, anger, and even feelings of self-doubt. And since we don’t live in a bubble, feeling this way about our own lives, will also in turn affect our relationships with the people we care about the most.
But what if, instead of giving in to this need to be above or better than others, we chose to simply acknowledge the success of others, instead of tearing them down so we might look or feel better? It turns out, the old adage of “treat others the way you wish to be treated” has some street cred on how we internalize happiness. The Journal of Social Psychology published a study that showed after 10 consecutive days of completing one random act of kindness for others, participants rated their own level of happiness significantly higher.
Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies showed a “positive feedback loop” between kindness and happiness. In simple terms: engaging in one kind deed (for example, taking your mom to lunch) would make you happier; and the happier you felt, the more likely you are to then do another kind act. Thus, igniting a loop of never-ending happy.
When we choose to genuinely encourage someone to do what they feel passionate about, or commend someone for an achievement, it can be truly self-empowering as well. If you set an intention to find beauty in others and put a rest to competition, the benefits could be endless.