Psych Central


Lessons Worth Learning from the 2010 Winter OlympicsI suppose it’s our fault — just because everything generational usually is. Too many of our kids expect life to be easy and give up too easily when it isn’t. Too many of them are quickly discouraged by setbacks and abandon a goal rather than change their approach. Why? I told you. It’s our fault. We wanted them to believe they could do anything. We wanted them to be happy.

Our resultant parenting style emphasized that trying hard was as good as achieving, that potential was worthy of praise, that stress was a bad thing, and that experiencing failure would damage self-esteem. I’m not blaming anyone here. I was party to all this too. Those of us who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s breathed the air of the human potential movement whether we were conscious of it or not. Self-esteem became a goal, rather than an outcome of living well. Self-actualization became more valued than self-sacrifice. Self-gratification sometimes became the measure of what one did instead of benefit for the whole.

The result of this thinking for at least some of the kids some of the time is that they either set happiness as a goal or are waiting for happiness to magically happen. Either stance is a setup for disappointment. As the athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics showed us again and again, happiness is an outcome of hard work and discipline. It is the result of having met a set goal. It is not the goal in and of itself.

4 Comments to
Lessons Worth Learning from the 2010 Winter Olympics

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  1. Using the medal winners as an example is counter-productive. For every medal winner, there are ten to twenty participants who won nothing, which reflects “real life” more accurately. The real champions in life are the unsung heroes, who receive little or no acknowledgement for their accomplishments.

  2. we cannot give importance to something as inappropriate, we have many important things to be treated as health care, cancer, AIDS, chronic diseases, the earthquake in Chile, the tsunami caused by the same, finally I think it is much more important to the pain of those who suffer the daily, which is why in findrxonline indicate that there are thousands of people who suffer from allergies and require governments to help improve health care.

  3. I don’t think using Apollo Ono’s ‘time out’ as a good thing is a good thing. This father took a 12 year old child and ABANDONED him till he was willing to make the choice the father had lined up for him.
    He wasn’t a teenager, he was a pre teen.
    He didn’t time out him … he abandoned him.

    I was appalled at the odacity of the media to portray that as a good thing that was worthy of the competition. No competition is worth abandoning your child. Not even 15 gold medals in one Olympics (which will probably never be achieved) could justify the psychic damage that will do to a child. He may not be paying the price now, but he will pay the price … some time, somewhere ..he will pay the hefty price of having been abandoned for a sport.

  4. Excellent article. As a VERY amateur marathoner, your words “the pain of regret is far more sharp and long-lasting than the pain of discipline” spoke to me. I’ve never regretted going for a run– but I have regretted being lazy and sleeping in from time to time.

  5. As a champion professional athlete of my sport and an MSW, this is my perspective in comparison to the previous comments. Again, my generation and younger (30-somethings and younger), are wired with the attitude of “A for effort” and “everyone gets a trophy”. That’s is highly unrealistic and growing up with that attitude prepares us poorly for adult life. For example, not everyone lands the job after the interview, and there might be 10 candidates, but only one position. There are no honorable mentions.

    Making an example out of Olympic athletes gives us something to strive for. Yes, there are other noble causes and professions, but most can not relate to specialized professions like cancer research or even the work of a social activist. However, we can all relate to sports because in our minds we all remember as children watching the Olympics and envisioning in our minds ourselves as Nadia or Carl Lewis. As kids we’ve all done sports; it’s valid. We’ve either participated in a sport, or hit tee-ball in gym class. In this forum I don’t have to stress the validity of connecting with our childhood. It’s where we were the most free to dream, and it’s also the time in our lives when someone first told us we couldn’t do it. That’s why inspiration through sports figures works. And that inspiration can be applied TO ALL AREAS of life including the cancer research, the community activism, working on a marriage, overcoming addiction, etc.

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