In 1995, a study was carried out by Victoria Medvec (Kellogg prof and YPO resource and negotiation guru) and Scott Madey and Thomas Gilovich on the effects of  winning an Olympic medal. The study showed that athletes who won the bronze medal were significantly happier with their winning than those athletes who won the silver medal. The silver medalists were more frustrated because they had missed the gold medal, while the bronze medalists were simply happy to have received any honors at all (instead of no medal for fourth place).

This is the tyranny of awards, grades and competition. If competition makes you better and helps you live bigger and enjoy your accomplishments more, then that’s great. Too often, though, competition creates tears in kids, self-flagellation in adults, and ruthless treatment of others in some settings. What’s the point?

It dawned on me recently how many things I pursue that are not “in my genius.” These are the things at which I am average at best, but that I do a lot and get a lot of joy out of (until, of course, I compare myself to others and my illusive potential, whatever that means). Running, swimming and golf come to mind.

What I do well with little effort, I do with no consideration of how I am doing compared to others. I don’t finish a coaching session and do a victory dance and think of how I compare to my friends who are coaches or to Tony Robbins. I get joy doing it, period.

Where in your life are you robbing yourself of joy and presence because you compare yourself to someone or something? Maybe the answer is gratitude.