I recently saw a post on social media where a friend's child was sent home with a note from school saying that the elementary school had done away with homework because it was too stressful for the children.
The statement was immediately followed up by multiple comments talking about how we are making our children "weak" and that the "everyone gets a medal" mentality was destroying our way of life.
This summer, a NFL player was reported to have made his children return their sports participation trophies. He wanted them to know that in the real world you are not rewarded for simply trying. You must "earn" a trophy rather than just having one given to you.
His actions were both celebrated and vilified by people across the country.
We send our children a lot of mixed messages.
Only the strong survive. Be kind. Love one another. No one will give you anything, you have to go out and take it. The world is tough. Don't be weak. You have to win. Just do your best.
But here is my question: How do you really win at life? What makes you a winner? Is it the amount of money you make, how famous you become or if other people want to be like you? How do you define winning when it comes to living?
Well, I hate to break it to you but, you can't. In life, when the game ends, we end, at least physically. We are not given a trophy. For all our fighting, competing and celebrating, everyone ends up in the exact same place, the ground.
The medal you get for winning life is death. There is no finish line. You don't WIN at life, you participate. That's it.
Maybe always trying to win is causing us all to lose!
In all our obsessing over winning and losing, debating over if everyone who plays should get a medal or not, we've forgotten the most important part. It's called 'playing' for a reason. It's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to make us happy.
When life becomes a contest, all the people you are surrounded by transform from being friends, family and fellow humans, to people you are competing against. People you need to beat in order to win.
So how do we fix this? Where do we draw the line between being a winner and being a good person?
We need to start looking at the bigger picture. In life, you can't win. You can only compete and try your best. Winning or losing is a personal challenge. We don't win by beating others. We win by being the best version of ourselves we can be. By knowing deep inside, that each moment we rose to meet our own personal challenge and pushed ourselves to be better than we thought we could be.
Happiness is found by living your true potential, not by winning.
Instead of teaching our children to win we should teach them how to compete, not against others but against themselves. Teach them to strive to do what makes them happy in life. Teach them to follow their passion, wherever that passion leads them.
Because in the end, life isn't about winning or losing... it's about how you play the game.