By: Debbie Soufian | Opinions  | 

Why We Should Never Compete

What is the premise of competition? Scarcity. A concise definition of classical economics is the study of how we make decisions when capacity and scarcity are the defining lenses with which we view not only our economy but our thinking. Unfortunately, that thinking is dominated by a lack mentality. When we believe in limitation, namely finite potential or opportunity, we act in ways that work against rather than for each other. Competition is not a righteous act; it gathers around the belief that we think we know what is best for us. It operates under conditions of entitlement where we think we deserve something more than someone else does. Ultimately, we either feel like losers or winners at the expense of others.

In attaching ourselves to an outcome and doing anything we can to obtain it, we place our attachment and faith in forces that have no ability to provide the meaning and innate impact we seek. And this is why we suffer. In operating according to a belief in finite resources, and that we are more deserving than others, we inevitably feel threatened by them. Marianne Williamson, a New York Times bestselling author and spiritual teacher/lecturer, wrote that every relationship is meant to be holy. We are here to help expand and use our good character to love one another.

Because we may believe we should act against each other, we justify this thought pattern by believing that God operates the same way — but He doesn't. God is benevolent, a force of love that He distributes to all of his creations. And if we were created in his image, then we are meant to do the same. Therefore, competing is an act against faith. God has gifted us with free will, and, with that choice, we have the ability to act in or against love. God does not inflict harm, so why must we? Can’t we work with, rather than opposed, one another?

Our God-given role is to heal the world through love. However, rather than asking God for guidance, direction, the privilege to be used in service of repairing the world, we worship our self-interest — perhaps a modern form of idolatry. It isn’t ambition that is wrong. Ambition is healthy as long as the intention behind it is healthy — but ambition rooted in insecurity and competition has the capacity to enslave our inner peace.

If your pursuits are spurred by competition, then everything that you obtain is something you’re taking from others — an uncomfortable thought. Material wealth earned in goodwill, however, with the intention that your abundance will serve and benefit others by being able to support your community, is a worthy goal to strive for. Abundance yields growth and heightened prosperity. When we motivate our careers to be a vessel towards collaborating with and helping others, we heal. In asking God for success, we surrender our inclination to beat, judge or hold resentment toward anyone. If someone obtained something you think you want and do not have, then bless that person. We have no idea what is ahead for us. It is said by Rabbi Yaakov Cohen (in a podcast hosted by Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe called “This Jewish Life”) that when someone acts with love and, therefore, the absence of ego, their abundance is impervious to the evil eye. You can’t help but love these people. In fact, you pray love should be felt by the world.

We all deserve spiritual and material sustenance. We all desire to earn our share with the intention of using it to build and be of use to others and to know the joy of giving. Just because you think you missed out on an opportunity that your peer obtained doesn’t mean you won’t experience it in your own time. Sometimes we confuse improper timing with failure.

Moreover, if you have the intention of a higher moral belief that your life, career and relationships should be used for tikun olam, for healing the world, then not only will any success you do acquire be more sustainable, but you will be gifted with the inner joy that you have contributed to the well-being of the world. Nothing done purely for the self can match the pleasure of service and devotion to something vastly larger than yourself. This is what it should mean to claim piety to God — to attempt our best, take care of ourselves and others and to surrender the mindset that we know exactly what we need; to commit to love rather than its opposite. This way, we will know that what we earn is truly deserved. And, if we do not, we can only trust we are being directed toward something better. This way, we will have never really lost because somewhere along the way we know we connected with a human being that God loves and gave life to. And that is always a win.


Photo Caption: Competition is not a righteous act.