Imagine that it’s a Sunday and…this is it…you just won the race, the Final game, the tournament you’ve always dreamt to win.
It’s now Monday and…how do you imagine your life will be after winning that event?
Will you be happier? Will you receive more professional opportunities? Will women or men look at you differently? Will a major sports brand want to sponsor you? Will you make commercials for sports cars or watches? Will you become richer than millionaires? What do you imagine will happen?
Answer this question and then I will give you the real answer.
But before giving you the answer, I must say this.
“Winning” is an amazing moment that you will remember forever. So if you dream to win something, go for it! I will be the first to encourage you.
“Winning” or should I say “The desire to win” is amazing because it gives purpose to your daily life. You wake up everyday doing exactly what you think you should be doing. All sports are different but I believe all athletes are wired similarly. We need a goal.
“Winning” is amazing because it gives you joy, pride, satisfaction, self-confidence, an experience that you can teach to others and probably a lot of other great positive things.
I will even say that yes, “Winning” brings you all the things I mentioned earlier: the money, the sponsor, the commercial, the attention from others, etc.
Once again, I repeat, “Winning” is amazing. If you desire to win, Go, go, go!!!
There is only one case where “Winning” is not amazing and this is what I want to teach you. I don’t want you to be disappointed.
“Winning” will give you an emotional boost that is only temporary (joy, satisfaction). Therefore “Winning” doesn’t give you happiness. Winning and happiness are two different things.
Let’s imagine that “Happiness” is a cake. You should see “Winning” or “the strong desire to win” as just one ingredient. You might think it is an important ingredient because training and recovery takes a lot of time but still, it is just one ingredient.
Again, “Winning” will give you joy, pride, satisfaction and all the other positive emotions that you see on the face of winners. But not happiness. A lot of athletes are sad, disappointed or suffer from depression after a big achievement not only because they don’t have a goal anymore but also because they realize that “Winning” is not as sexy as they imagined. Again, I repeat, “Winning” IS AMAZING but it’s not the magic ingredient we imagine it to be.
Therefore, if you want to win this gold medal or this trophy because you think it will make your life happier, stop.
Don’t stop desiring to win, of course. But stop having the mindset that winning is the secret to happiness.
France won the 2018 Soccer World Cup just 7 days ago and that’s already it, we don’t talk about the players on TV anymore. I don’t hear anyone about me talking about the players anymore. I, myself, never been a World Champion, but I’ve been European Champion. I’ve even been the first EVER to do something on this planet. So I am speaking from experience. You will feel amazing positive emotions after winning something but they’re all temporary. You will gain great experience from these moments that will help you during the rest of your life. If you want to win, again, go, go, go!!!
I always joke that on the night when I became European Champion, I could have had sex with 10 different women if I had wanted to. If you imagine that a gold medal will make girls or boys more attracted to you, you’re right! But if you think winning a trophy will make you happier, you’re off.
During my professional athletic career, my happiest time was in April 2017. I was in a country that I love (Singapore), the weather was really sunny and I love heat, I had engaging talks in my native language with a really great friend, I had fun conversations with his wife in an Asian language and I love foreign languages, I was training twice a day, doing the sport that I love, etc. During that time, I was crying out of happiness every other day. Happiness is that, a lot of things, big and small, at the same time. And “Winning” is one thing, in the middle of that.
During that time, which, I repeat, was my happiest, I performed really well, finishing 2nd, 2nd and 4th in 3 consecutive races in 4 weeks. I am sure that some athletes (like my old self) believe that doing the small things that lead to happiness are opposite with doing the things that lead to winning. “I don’t want to go out and have fun with friends, I need to go to bed early”, “I don’t want to take the time to read a fiction because I need to do my daily stretching”, for example. But my personal experience and what I studied and my gut feeling tells me that “being happier” and “performing better” are best friends.
Happiness is a cake. Training, competing, racing and desiring to win is ONE ingredient. Listening to music, if you love that, is another. Reading, if you love that, is another. Dancing, if you love that, is another. Spending time with the person you love is another, etc, etc. To be a happier athlete, and probably perform better, you need a tiny bit more of the little things.
“Success is achieving one big thing. Happiness is doing a lot of small things.”
I once read that Happiness is like a PhD in Yourself. If you’re not happy, then you didn’t graduate in this course called “Yourself”.
I’ve discovered over the years that I am very sensitive to music. Sometimes, I hear a song from R.Kelly and everything in my mind vanishes, evaporates, fades away. I know this about myself. If I put some music on, good things will happen. Therefore, yesterday, today and tomorrow, I wake up and , without thinking, one of the first thing I do is to put some music on.
My Happiness cake includes many ingredients: having a goal/project, living in Asia, listening to music, dancing, speaking with strangers, and many others, some that I know and some that I don’t really know yet.
In addition to that “desire to win”, what ingredients do you need in your Happiness cake?
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