Wednesday, June 29, 2011

your greatest competitor: self

This morning, I had a (though perhaps not not entirely original) profound realization:

Essentially and ultimately, the only person anyone is competing with is themselves.
And going along with that, the sooner you realize that truth, the more you will accomplish: whether the accomplishments are outwardly recognized or internally perceived.

I know there are some who would read that statement and have a hundred arguments with which to counter it. A few of those arguments might include the valid point that much in this world is driven by external competition: businesses, athletics, career advancement etc. But to counter an argument such as THAT, I would specify that I did not state you CAN'T compete with entities other than yourself, but rather I am implying that the competition you face with yourself is the only one in which you are inevitably and permanently invested. The longer you let your personal comparisons and competition with others dictate your actions, the more likely you will be to develop behaviors, habits and traits that do not accurately portray the best version of yourself.

Physical Fitness
Every person, body frame, external conditions and lifestyle are all incredibly unique. To aspire to make your body like like a body that is NOT yours is therefore illogical.
Not only is it illogical, but it will also prove to be more frustrating than anything else, since your body is designed to be a certain way, completely specific to you. It will never (easily or naturally) identically resemble someone else's body. The moment you truly accept this and provide for the individual needs of your individual body, the happier and healthier you will be. If you are giving your body sufficient vitamins, minerals and nutrients, feeding it  for the purpose of fuel rather than pleasure--- if you are exercising to strengthen your muscles in ways that broaden your physical capabilities and keep your vital organs in excellent working order ---if you are getting plenty of water, sleep and sunlight--- then you are at your best. If you are doing all of those things, look in the mirror and take note of what you see: because what you see is your body the way it looks when you are taking superb care of it. As is, it warrants no change. Do not neglect it more or care for it less. This is you.

There are few, if any, people in the world whose goals are 100% aligned with yours. Therefore, who can define success in a way that is entirely accurate for the next person? No-one can. In case you were unaware of this, you are operating on your own lifespan (aka timeline). On that timeline, you have your own unique benchmarks. Or perhaps you don't have any benchmarks at all, but rather things you just know you'd like to do before you can't do them anymore. Furthermore, no matter what your timeline or benchmarks are, there are two factors influencing your timeline and benchmarks that are completely variable from person to person: resources, and unexpected interruptions. This is because most resources from which you draw (physical ability, finances, time, permission, possibility) are fallible. They are neither constant nor infinite, and it is beyond your control in most cases to predict or discern if or when your resources will run out. And "unexpected interruptions" pretty much speaks for itself. These interruptions could be the direct result of a temporarily cut or permanently exhausted resource, or the byproduct of circumstance. So, because all of this is mostly beyond your direct realm of control, you must accept that the only way to truly define success is "satisfaction with the way the present is unfolding." Because when you really think about it, you can only influence how it will unfold to a certain extent. So wak up every day and live with intention. In other words, exercise behaviors that actively advance (rather than hinder) your current goals, and be happy each day with the gradual advancement...because in case the ultimate realization of a goal never occurs, you have succeeded, at least, in that you have gained/maintained happiness by having gratitude for consistent progress.

Your Relationship
I'm sure if you take a moment to consider moments in past relationships during which you've felt upset or inadequate, it is most likely a direct result of personally comparing yourself to someone else. Perhaps you compared yourself to a person your significant other used to date, or even love. Perhaps you compared yourself to a person they had a close friendship with, or a person they simply know or work with, or maybe even a complete stranger in a magazine or "unmentionable video" of sorts they maybe owned. The list could go on, but my point is that you likely felt that your own appearance, experience, or some other talent or trait could not possibly match that of whomever you were comparing yourself to. And as a result, you likely felt resentment toward yourself, the person in comparison, and (unfairly) your significant other, who in this case was the unsuspecting bystander to your jealousy. It's human instinct: it happens, and you can't always helping wishing you were better in one way or another. But jealousy is not, in any way, productive. In fact, it is detrimental in countless ways to your relationship. Moreover, it is wildly unattractive. When you begin to feel jealous, turn to your logic. Your significant other picked you. And unless they are an idiot, they probably picked you for a reason. And unless they are simple as a Neanderthal, they almost surely picked you for several reasons... good ones, at that. I mean, give them some credit. Personally, I know that there has to be something awesome about me if I can keep a handsome, successful young man from "sowing his wild oats" with whomever he pleases. And I think it's so great to have such a person, I'm not going to question why. Fact of life, kids: there will always ---always, always, always--- be someone out there better looking, more successful, funnier, smarter, richer, cooler, more cultured, more talented, more exciting, better in bed than you are. It's kind of crappy/funny to think about that, but it's true. So if someone picks you despite that, it means they have found something in you that will never be better in anyone else: rarity. Rarity, meaning a precise, unique combination of talents and traits that fits exactly what they are looking for. Your protrusions align with their gaps. Your strengths align with their weaknesses. Your quirks align with their curiosities. You are rare, and you were chosen. And if you are not only rare and chosen, but also deeply loved, you have much more than most people to be thrilled about.

I'll keep this one short and simple, because it is. You're either good, or you're not. You either believe in him, or you don't. You either live with conviction, or live with empty purpose. And whether you judge or are judged, sit in church or sleep in, volunteer or remain completely self-serving, pray or swear, neither you nor any other human is in competition with you. Whether or not you make it to eternal salvation doesn't usually mean that much to the next person. They can't make you be a good person or believe. And at heaven's gate, God's not standing there with a stopwatch or a score sheet. That "forever" thing? Yeah, that's up to you. And it's a tough competition against yourself and your own human weakness. So if there is anyone in your life trying to guide you in your faith, whether they do so by instruction or quiet example, get after it. Compete with your own lazy tendency to be apathetic towards a relationship with God, and just ask him into your heart already. And yes, it is that easy. It's a long, hard road sometimes, but gaining Christ as a companion is easy at least. And he's got every map, compass, emergency kit etc. you could possibly need for the trek you're making.

Now you've spent a lot of time reading this, so go out and compete with yourself.
Challenge yourself.
Be happy.
Life is really, really awesome.

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