Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Silver Medal Syndrome


It's been fun watching the Olympics for the past week and a half (although my sleep has suffered because of it).  While watching the Olympics, I was reminded of a study that I read in a book by Jeffrey Brown several years ago.  The study took a look at silver and bronze Olympic medalists and how happy they felt about their individual performances.  We tend to believe that the better we perform, the better we'll feel about ourselves.  But, this study reveals something different.

Bronze medal winners were actually found to be happier than silver medal winners.  And, what the researchers discovered was that it was the thinking of the athlete that determined the level of their happiness.  Silver medalists were found to be thinking about how close they had come to winning the gold medal.  So, instead of focusing on the fact that they were part of a very select group of athletes to EVER win a silver medal, they were focused on the fact that they did NOT win the gold and missed out on all of the fame and accolades that would have come with it.  

Bronze medalists, on the other hand, were found to feel happier than silver medalists, even though they performed "worse."  Their focus was on the fact that they had medaled.  Of course they would have liked to have won gold, but their focus was simply on the fact that they were on the medal stand and were able to earn a medal for their country.  They understood how disappointing it would have felt to have missed out on a medal altogether and they were incredibly grateful to have earned one.

This just reminded me of the fact that what we focus our thoughts on has great power and influence in our life.  Those who "win" always seem to get the focus and attention, but what I long to understand, and what I hope you will understand as well, is that "success is peace of mind which is a direct result of knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."  (If that quote seems way to smart to be from me ... you're right.  It's from John Wooden)

The motto of the Special Olympics is "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."  Be brave in your attempts, my friends. Great happiness can be found in that.

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