Comparison and Competition

American culture can be very competitive.  Advertising media, to take just one example, constantly entice you to compare yourself to others and to acquire newer, flashier or more expensive things to catch up and get ahead of others.   There are many temptations in life to compare ourselves to others, but to do so is to take the wrong path.

We might be tempted to gloat because we think we are making greater progress than someone else, but if we knew all the facts, we might learn that the person we are tempted to gloat over, is operating under disadvantages that make the notion of competition with him or her ridiculous.

We might be inclined to feel depressed if we think we are not achieving as much as someone else.  Again, if we knew all the facts, we might see the situation differently.  Someone who is faster in a race or better on the athletic field might just have a significant advantage in genes or might just be practicing harder because for him or her succeeding in this area is a greater priority than it is for you.  Someone who has more and better material goods might have zero net worth because they put low priority on saving and you put a higher priority on saving, or they might have inherited big bucks from rich uncle Charlie.

Comparing progress with others in Taijiquan is also the wrong path.  Someone who is progressing faster may be benefiting from superior innate abilities.  Maybe they are progressing faster than you because they are willing and able to devote more time to class attendance and practice at home because they have made progress in Taijiquan a higher priority than you have or they don’t have as many other responsibilities or priorities as you have.  And it is just the reverse if you are feeling somewhat gloat-worthy because you seem to be doing better than someone else is.

The only meaningful comparison in Taijiquan, as well as in life in general, is with oneself.   Are you allocating your time and effort according to your priorities.  Is your progress toward each of your goals appropriate to the priority you have assigned to the goal?

As for your Taijiquan instructors’ view of your progress in Taijiquan and the priority you give it, if you are happy, we are happy.

About Qi Elements Taijiquan & Qigong

I am the director and chief instructor at Qi Elements Center for Taijiquan and Qigong in Herndon, Virginia. I have been a Taijiquan and Qigong seminar student of Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming since 1996 and am certified by Dr. Yang as a full instructor of YMAA Qigong.
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