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.