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“Happiness is within you” Part 3 – Living your life through the success of others

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The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics coverage made me reflect upon the sudden infatuation with patriotism, where each viewer had eyes only for the athletes representing their countries, but even more so, where everyone was flaunting their athletes’ successes or was appalled by their underperformances. Ironic isn’t it; As if the reputation of an entire nation rested solely on the shoulders of one man or one woman. But in which way should individual success have an impact on collective pride, given that apart for the financial contribution made by the country of origin and for its commitment to supporting these athletes through the development of various programs, isn’t success much more personal than national after all? Moreover, considering the reality of mass migration on a global scale and therefore the fact that our societies are increasingly multicultural, hasn’t the concept of national pride based on a territorial or even racial notion become archaic? In the end, the country in question has very little to do with the athlete’s success, for it is the athlete alone who ultimately, through his perseverance and dedication, succeeds in surpassing himself in the hopes of reaching a podium. So, this tribal reflex of flaunting our success as a nation seems to me inappropriate since, shouldn’t it rather be the success of the individual that ought to be celebrated whatever his or her origin?

This is how I came to realize that much more than an element of national pride, this reflex where we come to identify ourselves with one of these athletes becomes a means of living through another, as opposed to succeeding ourselves. The same goes for all those sports enthusiasts who identify themselves fully with a particular sports team and for whom a defeat can lead to having detrimental effects on their health. As if the performance of a team would in some way determine the person they are. And yet that is precisely what happens. This sickly and unhealthy behaviour that permeates our society ensures that to rejoice and identify in the successes of others averts all the anguish that one would face trying to actually achieve something for himself. Consequently, many come to pledge unbounded allegiance to a sports team of their choosing, as if they were a part of it. It is then that, unable to satisfy themselves with their own successes, no matter how small, they try to live through those of others. From that moment on, the danger becomes that their destiny no longer belongs to them. They find themselves at the mercy of events out of their control and can only hope for the best. Thus, rather than taking control of their lives and becoming the decision makers within their own lives, just as those who regularly buy lottery tickets, they come to live only in hopes of winning the jackpot.

And so, as I mentioned in the second article of this four-part series (insert link to the article, “Overly Comparing Ourselves to Others“), to compare ourselves with others or even worse to live through the successes of others is in essence playing the ostrich with respect to the person we ought to be. When we assume the role of admirers, we become not only spectators in the lives of others, but also, spectators in our own lives and hence prevent ourselves from full self-realization according to who we truly are, or at the very least who we could become.

So, more than anything, if your objective is to get out of this immobility which prevents you from taking control of your life and from initiating a process of awareness that would allow you to gain the confidence necessary to realize yourself, by yourself and for yourself, you will need to grasp that happiness cannot be attained through others (personalities, sports organizations or others), but rather through the potential of realization that can solely be found within you. Just as I’m doing here by writing these few lines, affirm yourself. Take your rightful place, stop procrastinating and identifying yourself with others and go beyond your limits, whatever they may be. Stop being spectators; instead become authors and actors of your lives. We all have an Olympic performance to offer in our respective fields if only we take full advantage of the talents that are ours.

So be it The Utopia of Modern Happiness”, “Overly Comparing Ourselves to Others” or “Living your life through the success of others” one can easily recognize that none of these approaches actually bring genuine happiness.

I therefore invite you to read the conclusion of this series of four articles that will be entitled “Happiness is within you and nowhere else” where I’ll describe the path towards true happiness.

Join the discussion

  • Wonderful article and great series so far! I look forward to your conclusion.

    I just wanted to mention something that may be worth pondering about in regards to your reflection on the Olympics.

    When it comes to big countries such the US and Canada, your reasoning makes absolute sense. However, when it comes to small countries, often less known or countries that have struggled over the years, to have their athletes win, actually puts them on the map. Also, it allows them to be seen in a good light. With media narratives constantly demonizing certain nations to serve their geopolitical agendas, very often entire peoples are affected. So I can understand why having this national pride, allows them to cope and works in some cases even on their self-esteem. If the media was neutral for instance when it came to wars and things of that nature, good people would never be demonized or smeared, but they don’t. So in a way, having media attention, recognizing the talents of their nation and being celebrated for a win actually tends to balance this grand scale.

    I do understand your perspective coming from North America and you illustrate a very good point. I just figured you might be interested in a slightly different perspective on this specific matter.

    As I said, great work! Definitely worth putting a lot of thought into 🙂

    • Sabrina, point well taken about having a North American perspective. Nevertheless, I feel your comment is solely but understandably based on the majority’s reality and understanding of the world as they know it and as it truly is. And that is what, in my own little way I’m trying to change with my blog and more specifically with those articles. That’s what my whole philosophy on life tries to be also, “Don’t be like everyone else and think like everyone else … dare to be different, dare to reflect”. The bullying/condescending attitude of the big guy, whether it’s a big country or a simple individual in the school yard is one and the same. It’s all based on power struggles and on strong egos. But once you find a way to happiness from within yourself as I advocate, once you find a way to elevate yourself above it all, you no longer need to identify yourself to others’ successes. So you are right that, with a conventional way of thinking, it can feel good for the underdog to once awhile feel worthy of something. But the question one should ask is, if you truly know your self-worth and love yourself for you are and in doing so find ultimate happiness by being of service to others, does it matter what the rest of the world thinks of you? Ultimately then, there is nothing left to prove to others as it truly doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks and since you’ve proven it to yourself in the process. So many thanks for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my conclusion to this series of four articles. I truly believe that happiness is therefore nowhere else but within you. You simply have to make the effort to look for it and you will surely find it, regardless of which country one comes from. Respectfully, Jacques.

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