Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 16, 2008

Achievement

It’s the Secret to Happiness.

No matter what you do, someone will always have more money, more popularity, better looks, cooler friends, and ‘seem’ happier. The grass is always greener on the other side is an illusion designed to keep the mediocre away from greatness. Let them have their illusions. You are to get the real thing.

People who have achievement tend to have two things about them. One, they work really hard. Two, they love what they do (so it doesn’t seem like work). Most people hate work so that eliminates 90% of people. Others will never connect ‘love’ and ‘work’ together which cuts out a total of 99% of people.

Lately, achievement is not as recognized as it once was. Businessmen are not recognized for their achievements. Artists are not as recognized either. And no, pointless ‘award ceremonies’ are not recognition. Look at the ‘award shows’ and you’ll find they aren’t really about ‘achievement’ as ‘what dress is she wearing?’ and ‘I would like to thank my parents, my partners, my co-workers, my poodles, my servants, etc.” However, achievement, as is properly defined, is still recognized in athletics.

When Tiger Woods appeared, his work was properly acknowledged as an achievement. Golf courses were redesigned based on his skill. His recent close win in the U.S. Open with a torn leg was rightfully acclaimed. However, someone like Tiger Woods generally spends their waking moments ‘practicing’. He didn’t spend his life clowning around. He invested his time, watched his talent grow up to become a large tree that provides fruit. It is said it generally takes around ten years of constant ‘work’ to reach the ‘expert’ status. You can recognize the future winner based on where he or she invests the time. They do not feel they are ‘missing out’ in life. To the contrary, if they had more time, they would ‘work’ even more! They are extremely content and are happy.

Contrast this to the losers of life. Somewhere in their life, their wasting of time with no fruit of achievement causes significant anger (though they don’t know where this anger is coming from). You will know the loser by his fixation to lose himself or herself into a mass movement be it political, cultural, or something else. All mass movements are the same: they all have a ‘devil’. And it is that ‘devil’ that has ruined their lives. It wasn’t the person’s fault! Oh no! In fact, the world, instead of being full of color, life, and magic as was in one’s childhood, it is now full of conspiracies and suspicions. These losers wake up every day in hatred. Their only joy is a bitter schadenfreude (which is the joy of the villain).  You will know the losers that instead of bringing themselves up, they will try to tear down the real achievers. It is like a mediocre sculptor saying, “Why do people care about Michelangelo? He wasn’t that good.” Or it is saying, “Achievement? Those occur only in a talented few that pop up randomly like in a Civilization Revolution game. It does not come from the ordinary.” People choose to be ordinary. It doesn’t happen by accident.

Ironically, the path of the winner and loser will look opposite to outsiders. The loser, who focuses on winning the approval of the herd, is celebrated too pre-mature. The loser is seen as the winner and adorns himself or herself with empty awards, ribbons, titles, and appearances. The winner, before his achievements reach the level where they cannot be denied any longer (and people will deny them as long as possible since everyone loves losers since they make the mediocre feel like winners. Remember, schandenfraude is their joy). On their long path, winners are seen as losers, as fools who don’t get it, for everyone sees them ‘working’ all the time (not realizing work is their joy). The loser strives to be the peacock. The winner strives for the cocoon and, to amazement of all, blossoms out a butterfly.

Let us take a look at two American athletes at the Olympics. First, let us look at this “loser”.

Phelps has won seven gold medals and might win an eighth. He won only 6 gold medals and two bronze medals in 2004. In 2000, he pretty much failed.

With all the attention Phelps is getting, and especially he isn’t married, I imagine quite many young females will dream that if only they could have Phelps. (Correction. The ladies are actually fixating on Ryan Lochte). But the ladies will see him as a loser. In his own words, all he does is ‘eat, sleep, swim’. With devouring 12,000 calories a day, that food has to come out, so you can add ‘pooping’ as a fourth thing he does. And with all that eating, he has to be doing tons of cooking. And tons of cooking means tons of cleaning. Even worse, he stays inside and plays video games. Oh the humanity!

In the international melting pot that is the Olympic Village, Michael Phelps is in his own world, set apart by circumstance and by choice, his universe seemingly contained in a three-bedroom suite and in the contents of his iPod.

A day in the life of an Olympic athlete would seem a kaleidoscope dream of racing and revelry. In the case of Phelps, the breakout athlete of the Beijing Games, it is a window into a monastic life, one in which fast food, fast friends and family are sacrificed for fast times.

And this is how the New York Times story begins (written by a female admirer, hmm?). What shock! What horrors! Poor Phelps! Does he not know he is supposed to be in revelry and craziness, not inside an apartment all day? At least, that is what the non-achievers think.

When Phelps is not sleeping, he plays the computer game “Age of Empires” with his suitemates or watches the documentary “Planet Earth.” Anything to keep his mind off swimming until he returns to the pool for the preliminaries, where he follows the same prerace routine.

What! Video games? During the Olympics!? Watching “Planet Earth”!? You can feel the disapointment coming through the article. Most people would consider such behavior to be the ‘loser’. But yet, he is the winner.

Now let us consider another athlete.

The US women’s gymnastics team blamed stadium officials Wednesday for distracting one of their athletes who went on to make crucial mistakes that destroyed their gold medal hopes.

Instead of accepting her screw up, she chose to blame the stadium officials. Failing is not the mark of the loser. The loser is the one who blames everyone else for their own mistakes. If she doesn’t change, she will have a very angry and unhappy life.

“Why are you talking about this, Malstrom!?” a reader thunders. “You are supposed to talk about GAMES.”

And we are. What is a game but the mirror of character?

What character will you become? Will you be the player who sees the game as comfort? The player who sees the game as something to be ‘right’ about? How about the player who sees the game as something to win? And how will you play? Will you become the quitter? The cheater? Those who demand a walkthrough? How will you play the game?

Replace ‘game’ with ‘life’ in the paragraph above and how does it read?

I’m reminded of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. In it, there was a shipwreck and the people are stuck on an island. Some thought it was a paradise, a wonder, while others saw it as a swamp, as desolation. The spirit of Ariel, when freed, goes not to the sky but to the flowers. The point is that the world is as bright and dark depends on you. Consider “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Where one sees a swamp, another sees a paradise. A child begins life with grand dreams. The tragedy is that these dreams become ‘corrupted’ as the child desires to become the ‘peacock’ of the world. The path of the winner is the path of the cocoon and most mistakenly believe it is the most unappealing life choice of all. And then they wonder why they never ‘win’.

Never forget:

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

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