You Can Always Have a Winning Experience.

Recently, while listening to a podcast, I heard one of the presenters, a sports coach, use an expression that was new to me. He said: “You can’t always win, but you can always have a winning experience.” He went on to explain that no matter how good you are at something, you can’t always emerge the winner. 

However, instead of writing off the whole event as a loss, he encourages his players to consider the entire experience from start to end. Stop focusing on the failure to win, and start looking for what you gained from it.

This really resonated with me. We all acknowledge, the pandemic is unwinnable. Even the arrival of vaccines will not undo all the darkness of the last months. However, maybe we can still have a winning experience. 

A winning experience is when you look back over a tough time (or, to use the coach’s words, a loss) and find some redeeming feature—something you gained or learned. Think back to a dark period or a horrible situation you have experienced. I’ve been through several difficult periods and, at the time, I certainly did not feel like I would emerge a winner. 

However, when I looked back over those hard years, I saw how much I grew. It wasn’t easy finding those lessons amongst all the awfulness, but I always did. To me, those lessons, those times of growth, are like jewels pulled from a muddy pool. You may need to take your time hunting for them, but they will be there, waiting to be lifted from the muck.

We all love winning! When we win something or win at something, it sweetens our day like a dollop of cream on a juicy strawberry. Our confidence goes up, and often our happiness increases. Even when we win a silly family board game, we feel great. When we were children, there were many opportunities to emerge a winner: academics, sports, hobbies, all set up to award trophies and accolades to those who excelled.

But, as adults, most of the time, we tend not to win. We learn that regardless of our focus, we can rarely really win! There will always be someone doing it better than us—a better writer, baker, or artist. Someone will always be richer, more powerful, famous, popular, or beautiful. If we can’t win, then we need to shift our focus to having a winning experience. 

What have I done to make sure I have a winning experience in my current life? Considering I rarely leave my home, I am short on options! 

I narrowed my gaze to how I stay connected to dear friends and family who I miss so much. This led me to one of the muckiest pools—social media. We are all spending a lot of time on social media. I do so for my business and my blogging, but I also love connecting with those I miss. 

However, on every platform, there is so much that can drive you crazy.  To ensure I could dive into social media and still have a winning experience, I embraced my default setting: Live and let live.

As I said, due to my businesses, I cannot forswear social media, so I had to find a way to be able to participate on all the platforms but still have a winning experience. I achieved this by breathing deeply and reminding myself to live and let live. Now, when I dip my toe in the social media pool, I pick and choose what I read, and like, and where I comment. 

Yes, there is tons of stuff posted on every platform every second of every day, and a lot of it has the potential to make my blood boil, but no one is forcing me to read it—let alone respond to it. I simply keep scrolling and don’t get sucked into the drama. For me, time spent catching up with friends’ lives around the world is a winning experience. I read and enjoy so much of what they share. As for the other posts, well, I leave them lying in the muck. Live and let live.

The second habit that helps me win in my very narrowed down life is to avoid competition and embrace contentment. Now I am not saying I’ve stopped striving for goals or settled for second best. I am simply saying that constantly comparing our lives to the curated lives of others leaves us hollow. And we all know feeling hollow is not a winning experience.

Living in our virtual worlds, starved of face to face contact, we are more susceptible to this kind of comparison-hunting. Our days feel dreary and repetitive, and it seems as though everyone else is doing a better job of living-through-a-pandemic. You made a pie; they baked ten pies. You took up jogging; they ran a marathon. 

I keep telling myself, there isn’t a limited amount of success. If my friend has ten thousand followers on her YouTube channel, I remind myself that she hasn’t used up all the available viewers. There is enough to go around.

Instead of competing, I opt for cooperating. I’ll ask the friend for guidance and advice. How did she grow her viewers to that number? I put aside the comparisons and focus on learning from them. 

In terms of winning and losing, we have all lost to the pandemic. The loss of lives, jobs, health, and homes is tragic. But maybe we can pause and look at the total experience, how we’ve grown, and what we’ve learned. It is up to us to find those jewels. 

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