The Falsehood of Competition – Lo Falso de la Competencia

The Falsehood of Competition

After reading Life’s Operating Manual, I started to think more and more about competition and cooperation. In his book, Tom Shayac writes, “Contrary to what we believe, cooperation not competition is the ruling order of nature.” He clarifies this by saying that nature, such as a “redwood tree”, doesn’t take more water than it needs. And if something in nature takes more, then it is killed off. Take, for example, the kudzu vine that “overtakes everything in its path.” However, with time it leads “to its own demise.” How? “By elimintating biodiversity, an essential condition for life.” There is a beautiful balance we find in nature.

Now, let’s take this viewpoint and apply it to humans and to society. 

How do we fare? From where I see- we are in a disarray.You think of things like war (them vs. us), poverty (rich and poor), education (the winners and losers), jobs (employed and unemployed), etc. Isn’t it very obvious that competition is dominant in our society?

Our culture has taught us to compete for everything.

After all, you want to be a winner and not a loser, right? Take school, for example. I can go back as far as primary school like the time I won the first grade spelling bee, the time I memorized a poem and recited it in front of the entire school, or the countless times that I received some kind of academic/citizen recognition. I felt on top of the world! Early on I learned that the more I studied the better I did, and the better I did the greater chance of me being at the top of my class.

Growing up, I felt that I needed to win in order to be someone. Good grades made me feel good, not to mention my parents loved it. I kept it up throughout high school and college, but with this came a lot of stress! You start to wonder about the college student suicide rates and depression associated with this stress.

Education should foster a love and passion for life.  We should be asking what they love instead of drilling them with facts about things that they may not be interested in. Is it no wonder that 7,000 students are dropping out of school every day in the United States?

Competition is an illusion.

The truth is we are hardwired for connection. And what do I mean by hardwired? Since  love is the foundation of who we are, then we are meant to connect to others and to be united. By being disconnected you are actually breaking this unity and creating independence. Thus, competition becomes an illusion as we are naturally dependent on each other- from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. We are one.

Herein lies the beauty of cooperation.

Ubuntu "I am because we are."
Source:www.harisingh.com

In Africa,  an anthropologist went to go study “habits and customs of tribes.” One day he told the children of one tribe that he put candy in basket by a tree, and they are to go get the candy when he says “go.” The first one to reach the basket of candy would win it all. To his surprise, when he said “go” the children joined hands and ran together. When he asked them why they did this, one little girl responded, “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” It was here that the anthropologist really understood the “true essence” of the tribe.  (to read the entire article, click here)

Since we’re hardwire to connect, to be loved, but most importantly to love, then it follows that like nature, we too could live in a state of cooperation. Instead of comepeting with one another, why not help each other out? Like the children of the African tribe, mutual support breeds a harmonious, peaceful, and happier environment and individuals You may say, “Sure, Liz. That sounds great in theory.” It need not be like this. Change begins with each one of us. It was Gandhi who once said, “We need to be the change we want to see in this world.” I honestly believe that a state of cooperation would dismantle much of the suffering going on today in our world as a result of competition.

What are your thoughts on competition and cooperation? 

Lo Falso de la Competencia

Después de haber leído Life’s Operating Manual, empecé a pensar más y más de la competencia y de cooperación. En su libro, Tom Shayac escribe, “Contrariamente a los que muchos piensan, cooperación y no competencia es el orden dominante de la naturaleza.” Él aclara  esto al decir que la naturaleza, como un “árbol de la secoya”, no toma más agua de lo que necesita. Y si algo en la naturaleza toma más, entonces se mata. Toma por ejemplo la planta kudzu que “destruye todo lo que encuentra en su paso.” No obstante, con el tiempo, “la planta desaparece.” ¿Cómo? “Elimina la biodiversidad, una condición esencial para la vida.”  Hay un balance hermoso en la naturaleza.  

Ahora, vamos a tomar esta punto de vista y aplicarlo a los seres humanos y la sociedad.

¿Cómo nos va? Estamos en una situación caótica. Vamos a ponernos a pensar en cosas como una guerra (ellos vs. nosotros), la pobreza (ricos y pobres), educación (los ganadores y los perdedores), trabajo (los empleados y desempleados), etc.  ¿No es muy obvio que la competencia domina nuestra sociedad?

Nuestra cultura nos ha enseñado a competir por todo. 

Al fin y al cabo, ¿quieres ser un ganador y no un perdedor, verdad? Toma la escuela, por ejemplo. Me pongo a pensar cuando estaba en la primaria y la vez que gané la competencia de ortografía, o la vez que me memorizé un poema y lo recité en frente de todo la escuela, o todas las veces que recibí algún reconocimiento por mis calificaciones/comportamiento. ¡Me sentía en la cima del mundo! De niña aprendí que entre más estudiaba, me iba mejor en mis exámenes y al hacer bien  en mis exámenes, sabía que tenía la mayor probabilidad de ser uno de los más inteligentes de mi clase.

Cuando era niña, sentía que necesitaba ganar para ser alguien de importancia. Buenas calificaciones me hacían sentir bien y a mis papas les encantaba.  Durante la preparatoria y la universidad continue haciendo bien, ¡pero a la vez tenía mucho estrés! Nos podemos preguntar ¿por qué hay tantos estudiantes universitarios que contemplan suicidarse o están deprimidos?

La educación debería  fomentar el amor y la pasión por la vida. Deberíamos preguntarnos ¿qué es lo que les encanta hacer? en lugar de repetir hechos de cosas que no nos interesa. ¿No es de extrañar que hay 7,000 estudiantes abandonando sus estudios cada día en los Estados Unidos?

La competencia es una ilusión. 

La verdad es que estamos programados para la conexión. ¿Y qué significa programados? El amor es la fundación de quién somos, entonces estamos destinados para conectarnos con otros y estar unidos.  Al estar desconectados, estamos quebrando nuestra unidad y creando independencia.  Así, la competencia se convierte en una ilusión y dependemos el uno del otro- desde nuestra ropa hasta lo que comemos. Somos uno. 

Ahí radica la belleza de la cooperación. 

Ubuntu "I am because we are."
Source:www.harisingh.com

 En Africa,  un antropologo fue a estudiar las “costumbres y los hábitos de las tribus.”  Un día les dijo a los niños que puso caramelos en una canasta cerca del árbol. Tenían que ir a agarrar los caramelos cuando él les dijera.  El primero que llegara a la canasta se ganaría todos los caramelos. Se sorprendió al ver que cuando empezaron a correr, los niños se dieron la mano y corrieron juntos. Cuándo les preguntó ¿por qué hicieron esto? una niña le contestó, “¿Cómo puede uno de nosotros ser feliz si todos los demás están tristes?” Fue ahí donde el antropologo entendió la “esencia verdadera” de la tribú.  (para leer el artículo, hagan clic aquí)

Ya que estamos programados a estar conectados, de ser amados y, sobretodo, de amar, entonces se deduce que al igual que la naturaleza, también nosotros podríamos vivir en un estado de cooperación. En lugar de competir unos con otros, ¿por qué no ayudar unos a otros? Como los niños de la tribú africana, el apoyo mutuo genera personas y un ambiente tranquilo, armonioso, y lleno de felicidad.  Quizás estás diciendo, “Sí, Liz. Eso suena muy bien en teoría.” No necesita hacer así. El cambio empieza con cada uno de nosotros. Fue Ghandi quien dijo, “Sé el cambio que quieres ver en el mundo.” Creo que un estado de cooperación desmantelaría mucho del sufrimiento que hay en el mundo como resultado de la competencia.

Qué opinas sobre la competencia y la cooperación?

On Being Happy…

Happy
Ever since I can remember I have always been curious about many things in life and I am constantly questioning everything. This has included happiness.  In this post, I include what I believe happiness to be and what friends and family have told me what happiness means to them. This is an excerpt from one of my chapters from the memoir: A Happy Heart of my Own.

“In general, I knew certain pleasurable experiences not only made me joyful, but others, as well. I asked friends and family what they considered happiness to be and their answers ranged from playing their favorite sport, to helping others, or simply being in nature. Marcos, a friend of mine, began his response with telling me that happiness to him meant ‘not being stressed.’ And I couldn’t agree with him more. Since when does stress and happiness occur simultaneously? It doesn’t.  One of my family members, Karina, answered by saying, ‘For me it’s when I run and feel the presence of the Lord and I have this immense feeling of gratefulness for everything in my life.’ Another family member of mine, Gloria, very humble began with, ‘I can’t explain true happiness” and added, “all I can say is that I know it when I feel it. Family, friends, humanity, humility, gratefulness, waking to another day, thunder, lighting, the sunshine, a smile, a hug, even nothing can make me feel happiness! But, I can truly say that I experienced true happiness when I learned self-love, when I leaned in to clear my mind and let peace take over. So, happiness to me turns out to be LIFE itself.’

This same harmony, joy, and peace are seen in my friend Carlos’ definition on happiness. He says, ‘For me, happiness is akin to knowing that I am alive. There is something so special going on this planet of ours, something that we’ve yet to discover anywhere else in the universe and most of us (again, particularly in industrialized nations) act as if we couldn’t care less. We have to stop every now and then and take a step back in wonder and amazement. Put things in perspective and take life, with all its glitches, and treat it like what it is: the best, most unique gift in the world.’

What a beautiful combination of different interpretations on happiness. As each expressed what happiness meant to them, I understood and felt it as a rejoicing in all that proved to be of profound delight in their hearts. What was salient in their takes on happiness was a feeling, a connection, and an alignment with spirit: a complete and selfless, unconditional love of life and love for oneself.

After my family and friends expressed what happiness meant to them, I was left with an unwavering desire to define happiness for myself. I questioned whether mere instances in our lives would be the only defining moments that made us achieve this state or could we live happily all the time?

Here is my take on happiness:

“In many ways, the result of this search for my own happiness led me to believe that it is as simple and as sweet as one’s own joie de vivre. I can’t recall the exact date when all this started to happen, but I clearly remember a consistency that came with waking up day after day and being content and filled with gratitude for the light of another day. Not to mention, how truly blessed I was for seeing my life as beautiful and, even more, living it as such. The great and late pianist of the twentieth century, Arthur Rubinstein, once said, ‘I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.’ Pure and simple. I can think of no better way of expressing this sentiment of a constant state of happiness other than to see life as beautiful and to love it. For me, this has translated as living life to the fullest with joy and peace in our hearts because this is what we feel and have within us; it’s who we are. And when we radiate this love, it follows that we not only see our environment and others in a different light, but we also take pleasure and delight through the benefit of receiving love in return. And, for the first time, I wasn’t seeing my life through rose-colored glasses. Happiness wasn’t the result of luck as I had once thought, but it was the result of my unyielding pursuit of it. I had come into harmony on my own accord and I was truly happy.”

What makes you happy? What do you define as happiness?