I’ve been thinking about something I said yesterday. I said that I don’t want to compete, even with just myself. It’s true, and gets more true the more I think about it.

I have tried for years to motivate myself with competitions against myself or by comparing myself to others and only felt worse or gave up. I’ve finally discovered that the peacemaker in me is much stronger than the competitor. I need to do things because I like doing them, not because I need to accomplish a goal. Yes, to be healthy, I need to lose a significant amount of weight. But I haven’t gotten there so far, and the only time I did lose quite a bit, I was working out because I loved the way it made me feel. Losing weight was the goal, but really, what kept me going every day was the way it made me feel, not the numbers on the scale. I quit because I got hurt and never really went back to it until recently.

In other areas, I look at my sister who is sewing dresses and adjusting them however she feels looks best, and I know I am not at that level yet. However, I know that, once I’m done with school, I’ll have more time to play around with my brand new sewing machine and I’ll get there. I can look at Ed Begley, Jr. (an actor and HUGE environmentalist), and feel like I’m not doing nearly enough to help the planet, or I can look at his life for ways to green up my own. I can be disappointed that I’m not vegan yet, or I can cut myself some slack and realize that being vegan even 50% of the time and lacto-veg the other 50% is better than I was doing and is helping quite a bit to show those around me that it’s not just hippies and PETA who are concerned about animals and the environment. I can read The Tightwad Gazette (and I would recommend the books to anyone who hasn’t read them yet!) and feel bad that I haven’t been able to save enough, or I can look at them and realize that, while I may not do everything, or even much, from the books, it puts me in a saving state of mind and that’s ultimately what’s important.

It’s not always about competition. For me it rarely is. I feel like it’s possible to work together to make us all better people and more able to accomplish our goals. I just needed to realize that I can’t be motivated for long when it feels like a zero-sum game. I don’t want other people to lose so that I can win, not even myself. I want us all to win. I am motivated by helping others. If I finally come to understand that what I’m doing in losing weight is helping myself be around for my kids (thereby helping them), that’ll motivate me. Being thrifty helps create a secure future for my family. It helps teach my children not to be mindless consumers, but to think about what they want and how they are getting it. Being green teaches my children the importance of realizing that we all have to share the planet. That they aren’t the only people who are going to need those resources.

Competition, especially when someone wins at the expense of someone else, is not my thing. It took me almost 40 years to figure that out, but I know it now. I am a hedonist. I do things for the sheer pleasure of doing them. I just need to remember that the next time I start trying to motivate myself by striving to be like others or trying to outdo them. It won’t last.

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