Mr. Peterson was our band teacher in middle school. Always a cool, calm character, he was endowed with a lot of patience (especially dealing with us in the trumpet section) and encouraged us to practice and be our best. At the end of the year, we were good enough to compete with other bands in our county.
One of the tests involved receiving a music piece we had not rehearsed, spend 60 minutes doing so and perform it in front of the judges. It was then that I saw another side of Mr. Peterson. Sweating and visibly nervous, he quickly studied the score and went over it with each section. He lost his temper with the trombones and his eyes glowered at the tubas in a way I had never seen. This man wanted to win!
Long readers of our blogs know that we love viewing sports. There is the satisfaction of watching your team win as well as the appreciation of excellent sportspersonship. Olympics, Sweet Sixteen, World Cup, playoffs... you name it and we enjoy seeing these women and men display their art of physical prowess and mental acuity.
In our daily exercises, we also like to push ourselves: to try and do more, cleaner pull-ups and push-ups; increased weight for me and more repetitions for Alice; resistance and strength training. We want to stay healthy!
Recently, a retired doctor-friend of mine recommended a book called Running and Being. It's a Zen-like take on my favorite personal sport. In running, unless you are in a race, competition is only with yourself: to run quicker, longer, injury-free and with faster recovery.
Not for you? That's okay, because daily there are plenty of opportunities for you to grow and "compete" with yourself. How?
Every time someone says, tweets, posts, emails, texts something that "hits your stuff," don't react. You might respond--later--but watch yourself and perhaps even count to 10. I promise you that when you do this over and over again, when you practice training yourself not to react, you will get better at it. You become an agile athlete of the heart.
Weather not cooperating? Relax and release.
Politics bugging you? Relax and release.
Feeling hurt or even physical pain? Yes... even here you can relax and release. This may not literally release your pain, but it will help you not ADD to the ache with other junk that builds up.
Candice Millard once said: "My advice (for what it's worth) for success and happiness: Compete with yourself and root for everybody else."