Why You Are Not a Loser – Free Ebook

Our societies have advanced tendencies 
to label certain people ‘winners’ and  

others – logically enough – ‘losers’. Aside from 
the evident meanness of this categorisation,  

the underlying problem with it is the suggestion 
that life might be a unitary, singular race,  

at the conclusion to which one could neatly 
rank all the competitors from highest to lowest.

And yet the more confusing and complex truth is 
that life is really made up of a number of races  

that unfold simultaneously over very different 
terrain and with different sorts of cups and  

medals in view. There are races for money, fame 
and prestige of course – and these attract many  

spectators and in some social circles, the bulk 
of the coverage. But there are also races that  

measure other kinds of prowess worth venerating. 
There is a race for who can remain calmest in the  

face of frustration. There is a race for who 
can be kindest to children. There is a race  

measuring how gifted someone is at friendship. 
There are races focused on how attentive someone  

is to the evening sky or how good they are 
at deriving pleasure from autumn fruits.

Despite our enthusiasm for sorting out competitors 
into neat ranks, a striking fact about the  

multi-race event of life is, quite simply, 
that no one is ever able to end up a winner  

in every genre of competition available. 
Furthermore, prowess in one kind of race  

seems to militate against one’s chances of 
success in others. Winning at being ruthlessly  

successful in business seems not – for example – 
generally to go hand in hand with any real ability  

at the race to appreciate the sky or find 
pleasure in figs. Those who are terrific  

at gaining fame tend to be hampered when it 
comes to competing in the race that measures  

the ability to be patient around thoughtful 
but underconfident three year old children.

We cannot – it seems – be winners at everything. 
Those who appear to be carrying off all the prizes  

and are lauded in certain quarters as superhuman 
athletes of life cannot, on closer examination,  

really be triumphing across the board in any 
such way. They are bound to be making a deep mess  

of some of the less familiar or prestigious races 
they are entered for; in certain corners of the  

stadium, they’ll be falling over, tripping up, 
complaining loudly about track conditions and,  

perhaps, sourly denigrating the whole event 
as useless and not worth participating in.

If one cannot be a winner at everything, it 
follows that one cannot be a loser at everything  

either. When we have failed in certain races 
in the mille-athlon of life, we retain ample  

opportunities to train and develop our strength 
to win in others. We may never again be able to  

compete in the race for fame, honour or money, 
but it’s still entirely open to us to compete in  

the race for kindness, friendship and forgiveness. 
We may even win at the not insignificant race for  

enjoying one’s own company or sleeping very 
soundly and without anxiety for many hours.

There is no such thing as a winner 
or a loser per se. There is only  

a person who has won in some areas and 
messed up in others. And, to go deeper,  

someone whose talent at winning in 
one sort of race means they must  

naturally and almost inevitably mess 
up in alternatives – and vice versa.

We never starkly fail at life itself. 
When we mess up in worldly areas and  

feel dejected and isolated, the universe 
is just giving us an exceptional chance  

to begin the training which means we will one 
day become star athletes in other less well-known  

but hugely important races – races around keeping 
a sense of humour, showing gratitude, forgiving,  

appreciating, letting go – and making do. 
These are the noble tracks on which those who  

have ‘failed’ can finally, properly 
and redemptively learn to ‘win.’

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