Coping in a Highly Competitive Society

I come at this from a Humanist perspective.  The key to coping well in a highly competitive society is to really have a good grounding in your goals in life. That is what provides you with meaning and purpose and helps you not be pulled off course by the rat race.

We do live in a highly competitive society. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Competition spurs us to do better and to be better and to achieve more.  That’s all positive.

The problem is I’m not sure people really know what they are competing for.  Neuromarketers have become expert on how to trigger “scarcity” and peer pressure through likes and clicks and feedback and limited time offers. And this works because – we are competitive – innately so.

Clearly, peer pressure and the desire to one up and be seen as better than our peers is a built in response we humans have. We need to fit in with our tribe for security reasons and so we can get caught up in competing to just to fit in. But that doesn't lead to happiness.

What people need to do is find balance. Balance between the need and desire to compete and the need to be happy for the sake of being happy.   This isn’t an either or thing, it’s a balancing thing.

And to balance – we have to think. What is it that we really want?  Do I even want what I am competing for?  Perhaps I should let this go and compete for something else.

It’s an amazing feeling to consciously let go of the need to compete for things that – really don’t matter to you.  Letting go of the rat race, frees up your energy and resources to compete in the things that do matter to you.  And because your energy and time isn’t scattered on things you don’t care about – and you are able to focus on the things you do – because that’s what you chose for yourself, you end up being happier and less stressed.  At least I do.

The key to doing any of this successfully though, is learning how to think more effectively and learning how to calm your brain enough so that the fight/flight response that gets triggered when we are in competition, is deactivated so that we only compete on things that matter to us personally. This is why there is such a growth in the mindfulness/meditation realm.

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