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Too often the achievement of coming in second is treated as though second place is the first loser. In some minds there is only one respectable place to be, and that is at the very top of the biggest heap. In pro sports, commentators head into the locker rooms post-game to talk with the players and coaches who wound up on the downhill side of the scoreboard, grilling them about what went wrong at the very time when they are not in the mood to discuss it.
Thank heaven that in youth sports the commentary is designed to be supportive of the young players. Thank heaven that the community is thinking about these boys and how hard they struggled in that last game, and how much heart they have put into their entire season. When does a person outgrow that level of consideration from others? When does an individual no longer need acknowledgement for successes earned, and compassion when their best doesn't result in the win they seek?
Let's bring the focus to you and your own achievements for a moment. How do you think about those times when you accomplished a lot, but not all that you set out to do? Do you focus on what you did, or what you didn't finish? Moreover, are you someone who makes a To Do list so long that there is little chance that it will be done in a weekend, much less a day? Then do you flog yourself over the 5 unfinished tasks, despite the fact that you completed 10?
When you are mindful of what you notice, you start to realize whether your mental goggles are set to highlight the successes - or the failures - in your day. You start to become conscious of the ways in which you are reinforcing your conditioned patterns of thinking. Do you automatically see the possibilities, or do you see the limitations first? Do you celebrate the achievements and finer qualities in other people, or do you pick apart their shortcomings?
Because we're talking about habits of thought here, it takes an effort to notice them. They operate on a subconscious level (when you're not thinking about what you're thinking). And it takes a concerted, consistent effort to change them if you find that your current perspective on the world is in need of a makeover. This is important because your attitudinal goggles influence your behavior, and your behavior creates your results. Better goggles lead to better outcomes.
There is almost always something good to acknowledge, perhaps even to celebrate. You might have to look for it, but it's there. Start talking about it, start writing these things down, and you'll magnify their impact. Gradually you can shift your habits, change the prescription in your goggles, so that you see more of what's working well in your life. And that will help the good things to grow.