Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Magic Fix #27: Real Winners Don't Compete!

To those who may say that advising our children to practice 'co-operation not competition', in a world that glorify sporting champions and promote dog-eat-dog mentality in a competitive business world, would make them "losers" in the future; I'd say thank god I'm not raising bitches and hounds!

 In our household, my husband and I actively discourage any "competitive mentality" in our children and instead promote and encourage what I call the three C's:


Non-competitive mentality is certainly not popular in our world today and our family would be a clear minority.  Our current society have children pitted against one another from the time they enter school and for some children even before that! Our educational institutions are constantly assessing our children and comparing them to each others. In classrooms and sports teams, around the world, children are frequently assessed according to age and not ability. Somehow, a ten year old child that received a higher paper test score over another ten year old, at a single moment in time, is considered to be a "success" of the education system that blatantly disregarding research on multiple intelligences that debunk such modes of assessment. The child that wins every swimming race, for example, is considered a "success" of good parenting, coaching and long hours of training but the lack of a "childhood" is made irrelevant over, "structure and results." Perhaps more countries should follow the example of Finland, which rank among the highest for academic scores, despite valuing equality over excellence among children, all the while giving less homework and encouraging more creative play (you can read more about it here). In fact, Pasi Sahlberg who wrote the book 'Finnish Lesson: What Can The World Learn From Educational Change in Finland' quotes Finnish writer named Samuli Paronen: "Real winners do not compete." 

Hey, if you are a parent and you believe a little bit of competition harmed no one and thinks that it helps your children "progress and push themselves to the next level", by all means, be YOURSELF! For my own kids though, I will always advice them to run their own race, enjoy every moment "for themselves" because life is way too short to be doing it for the attention of others. It simply boils down to intention; make it your intention to beat your own best and not the best of others.

I would say to my children,  if you love what you do and do it with consistency and commitment, success is a guarantee. If you are losing or is unsuccessful and this makes you feel unsatisfied, angry or sad, you probably shouldn't be doing what you are doing, in the first place! Isn't the whole point of doing something for self-enjoyment and self-improvement, anyways? It sounds simple enough but for many of us, fear keeps us in competition with others.

The momentary euphoria of beating someone or being better than someone else will last only as long as it takes you to become unhappy again. Ultimately, ones life's purpose should be to 'know thy self' and find happiness through other means other than winning and competition.

If my own children say to me one day "Mother, you were wrong, you should have told me to compete, if I did I'd be a winner today but instead I'm just a loser, a nobody", I'd say to them "who are you going to be a 'winner' or 'somebody' compared to? There will always be someone who will be richer, prettier, more fashionable, fitter, faster, fulfilled, smarter and more successful than you but there is only one universal equalizer: happiness. The more relavent question should be, why are you so unhappy?"

In my own journey,  the road has been long and winding coming to realize that the magic fix to finding happiness is co-operation, compassion and creativity, not competition!

The following is a short bio on myself, my journey away from competition to co-operation, contentment and finding true creativity! 

My Early Years: Time Spent in Nature

My early school years were very happy and life flowed easily with little parental interference.

I spent my days in nature, climbing trees, dancing, cycling and creating my own play outdoors.

Nobody drove me to soccer practice or dance lessons, this was non-existant in the country areas that I grew up in Sri Lanka.

I did not get a private school education, the public school education taught me the basics of reading , writing, maths, some music and dance. English was learnt at home, taught  by my parents who were fortunately educated in the english medium in Sri Lanka during the colonial era.

I never had access to a fraction of what my children enjoy in terms of structured education. Great children's literature, such as those written by authors the likes of Roald Dahl and Frances Hodgson Burnett, I only came to know after reading it to my own children thirty plus years later!

If I look at it from the perspective of where I am now, a good education is not a matter of when, it is a matter of if you choose it. Fortunately, I received my education in the best classroom ever, in my early childhood, that is in NATURE and the only competency testing I received was when I was successfully able to avoid snakes, scorpions and spiders without harm and climbed barbed wire fences without wounds and scratches.

My Teen Years: Time in New Zealand

When I moved to New Zealand in the middle of my teen years, it was life changing. I was able to learn more english, read its literature, learn and enjoy more structured sport and receive greater training in these areas. 

More opportunities became available to me, more easily; I embraced it fully and tried to do it to the best of my abilities. 

I took on leadership roles and very much enjoyed giving back to the community, this was when I was in my element.

I went to university and did an under graduate degree in History, took on three jobs while I studied and travelled across the world to many countries but competition or grasping for a vocation had still not entered my psyche.

I never felt that I was missing out in life or jeopardizing my future. I was doing what I loved (for most part, except for some dull uni papers!) and received all that I needed to sustain my life-style at the time.

My Early Twenties: Time Lost in Translation

Suddenly, bored with academia I yearned for more creativity in my life. To do a fine arts degree felt too indulgent at the time. What!? You want to do yet another useless degree? So, I did a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Technology instead, as it was called at the time because simply calling it 'Fashion Design' would make it sound way too practical and unacademic.

I won several national fashion competitions at the time and winning was not hard. All I had to do was ignore my own inner asthetic/creativity and design to please a panel of judges. When I did step out of the bonds of convention, I was rejected and that did not feel good; I did not enjoy competition! 

To become a good competitor in our society, you have to conform.

For a number of years, I was content to received false security by the media attention for my work. All the while, I was lost in translation, not understanding the fashion world at all. The fashion world did not sit right with my desire to be an individual, not to conform to expectations and not compete in a cut throat industry. I felt myself getting further away from my true nature.

My Mid Twenties and Onward: Time in Spiritual Partnership

Meeting my husband, my soul mate, my life partner changed my life and was the catalyst that drove me to start up on a brand new journey: towards co-operation, compassion and TRUE creativity. 

I had lost my desire to compete in the fashion industry in spite of my early success. I needed to find my true nature and raise my spirits once again. When my first child was born, I started teaching children art  from home and so went some of the happiest years of my life. I started with four children and it grew into almost 100 children that I taught regularly, by the time I shut shop when we needed to move due to my husbands work.

In my early years of marriage, my husband helped me to recognize some cracks in my personality such as the need to please others and receive their approval. 

Due to this weakness in my personality,  I mistook this happiness I received from teaching children art, as my calling to become a schoolroom teacher. I returned to university to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching and sacrificed much time with my own children & husband who needed me at the time.

Although, I am a qualified teacher now, I am not likely to ever work, strictly as a classroom teacher, because I realized too late that the current educational institutions did not encourage creative freedom instead it is stifled with a constant stream of meetings, assessments and reports. What I realized from this experience was that I was desperately seeking acceptance, approval and the recognition from others!

After years of bumbling through life and only after my plans were interrupted by the birth of two more wonderful children, I finally learnt what I needed to know:

I paint, I write, I design, I sew, I teach, I am a mother and a wife not for the approval, appreciation and applause of others or even to be like someone else or to be better than another but ONLY for the approval, appreciation and applause of one person: me, myself and I!

This understanding has freed me to live my life on my own terms, to write my own blog and do many things that I would have normally been too afraid to try without fearing disapproval or rejection.

When you live your life in co-operation, compassion, creativity and not in competition, life unfolds in miraculous ways towards, ultimately, what we all desire: HAPPINESS!

Blessings to all of you and thank you for reading my longest post EVER! I hope that my story, my mistakes, my lessons will help you also in some way along your own journey.

Leave me a comment, I love to hear from you too.


  1. YourAmmi,no great fan of the ~magic box~
    Did spend time with it,
    To find when she was to get her ~golfing fix~
    With all her cronies at the club.
    Her squeals of delight did assure,
    Those in the household including the cat.
    Were made aware she had discovered something
    Your ~magic fix~

  2. Dharshi - I love this post. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your journey. It was truly a treat!

  3. Thank you Monica! We just returned from a holiday, I didn't see your comments until today. I am usually very reserved with my past, many people only know me as 'the wife of...'! I felt I needed to write this post because I wanted my children to know that happiness does not come from what you "do" necessarily but what you "become" and the people you touch with what you do.

    Thank you for stopping by, it is always a treat to have you make a comment!!! x

  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    Astrology in India

    1. thank you Rattan! I am happy to have you in my small circle of readers. love from Dharshi x


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