Winning in life makes us happy.
We all may have our different definitions of what “winning” is to us but we can all agree it makes us happy, right?
Sometimes, you don’t have to actually win in life to think you’re winning.
Sometimes, you don’t have to actually win in life to be happy.
Sometimes, all you have to do is feel in control.
Sometimes, winning and feeling in control feel exactly the same.
That’s the challenge.
They’re not even close to being the same experience. This is especially true as the years stack up.
Winning is a feeling.
More importantly, winning is also real, tangible experiences in life that we really want. It’s much more than just a feeling. We want those experiences both now and in our future. We all want to win in life. At least, we tell ourselves that we want to win.
Control is also a feeling. But it’s mostly in our heads.
We all want to feel in control over the direction of our lives. We want to know that, if we do certain things, we can earn the outcome we want most. No one wants to feel helpless. No one wants to feel that, no matter what they do or how hard they work, their fate is not up to them. No one wants to feel that their future and happiness will be determined by random events or other people. No one wants to feel out of control.
The interesting thing is that it takes just as much willpower, focus, energy, and time to get the feeling of control without even winning as it takes to actually win.
Feeling in control can feel just as good as winning sometimes. It can for a period of time, at least.
Some people choose the feeling in control over living the life they really want.
They just don’t realize it.
I’m no different.
I’m certainly no better. At times, I’ve probably been worse than a lot of people.
Unfortunately, it took me most of my life to figure this out.
The accomplishments, money, material possessions, relationships, or the body. Oftentimes, it’s not about those things at all.
It’s all about control. The control that we believe we’ll feel once we have them. That’s what we are ultimately after in life. The control that we feel during our pursuit. A journey where we feel in total control.
What will we do to feel that sense of control? What price are we willing to pay for it?
We’ll dot every “I” and cross every “T”.
We’ll wake up early and get to work. We’ll stay up late to make sure that it’s done.
We’ll make friends out our enemies to get it. Oftentimes, we’ll make enemies out of our friends.
Feeling out of control is the breeding environment for cognitive dissonance. In other words, we’ll make reality the way we want to see it. Not necessarily how it really is. We just don’t know it. We don’t want to.
What’s born is confirmation bias. We start seeing the world and the people in it as ways to gain or regain control over our lives. Even if we have to use our imagination to make it so.
We’ll discipline ourselves past our short term pleasures because we believe that doing so will get us to our bigger, more meaningful feelings and emotions.
Unfortunately, we may discipline ourselves to doing things that will make our chances of ever experiencing the feelings and emotions that we really want later less likely.
Sometimes, both journeys will appear to be the same.
Both journeys will get us to feel in control.
You can’t or won’t change even when you know you must? You stick with a plan that clearly isn’t working just because you want to stay consistent? Aren’t the results you say you want in life more important than you being consistent?
Control = 1.
The life you say really want = 0.
In my case, it was Control = 487 and the life I said I really wanted = 14.
Control was winning. It wasn’t even close.
We’re going to get that control over our thoughts and emotions. Make no mistake about it. The question is how are we going to accomplish that? Will we be totally conscious of it? Will it be a series of carefully planned decisions? Will we truly consider the person we really want to become and the life we really want to live?
Will we focus on short term relief and worry about the bigger picture later on when we get our current situation under control?
What will we do for control?
What will our pursuit of control prevent us from doing?
Understanding this has really made me a better man. Understanding this has made me a better, more empathetic man to other people. Understanding this has made me a better, more empathetic man to myself.
It’s been freeing. I’m far less reactionary.
Growing up, the time our family actually sat down at the table for Thanksgiving dinner would vary greatly. That’s not surprising. It’s one of the most involved dinners of the year. The timing of such an elaborate meal can be a challenge.
I always had to make sure I didn’t fill up on all of the tasty hors d’oeuvres and tempting snacks. It would ruin my Thanksgiving dinner experience. Eating too much before we sat down at the dinner table would literally and figuratively lessen my “hunger.”
Sometimes that would be difficult. I needed relief. I was too hungry.
Let’s say there were some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches available. If I was too hungry and felt I couldn’t wait, I’d eat the sandwiches. If I ate too many, it would compromise the total Thanksgiving dinner experience.
Many times in life, we say we want the best things in life. We say we want to enjoy an incredible Thanksgiving feast with family, laughter, deep connection, appetizers, the turkey, dressing, side dishes, and desserts. But, for some reason, we just aren’t hungry enough to do what it takes to get there.
We sometimes fill up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before ever getting to the table.
Sure, those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taste good. Sure, they curb our hunger when we think we’re starving. But, make no mistake about it, they’re still just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It doesn’t matter if they’re made with the creamiest peanut butter, imported gourmet jelly, freshly-baked wheat bread with the crust cut off, stacked on a fancy, beautifully tiered sandwich tray, they’re still peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Although those sandwiches solved our short term challenge of being hungry, we may compromise the feast we really wanted.
Sometimes control is nothing more than a fancy peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Later in this book, I’ll explain what I call “The Emotion Stack.” I’ll tell you how and why a certain combination of emotions are influencing your decisions in your life more than you might realize. That’s certainly true in my case and the men I have the privilege to work with during one-on-one coaching.
I’ll explain how “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” and “Thanksgiving Dinner” play their parts along with the Money Game, Landmines, Grassy Fields, 18 Miles Away, Parachute Personality, Consolation Prize Identity, and our Chosen Identity.
“Progress equals fulfillment.” says Tony Robbins.
Sometimes, you don’t have to win in life to believe you’re happy.
The feeling of being in control may not deliver on its promises.
Making progress will.
It takes just as much willpower, focus, energy, and time to make progress in your life as it does to feel in control.
You just have to know the difference.
I’ve learned to override my need for control with the appreciation of progress.
Progress is what’s going to get me to my personal, Thanksgiving feast. That’s what’s really going to get to me to my definition of winning.
Skip La Cour
It’s A Matter Of Trust: Confessions of a Recovering Bodybuilder
P.S. If this book passage moved you, make sure you read all of the others I posted too. Reach out to me after you do. Send me an email at [email protected]. Or, fill out the questionnaire at the bottom of each passage and submit it to me.
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