Recently, I ran across this post by Brad Warner, a Buddhist teacher that I follow: Be A Loser.
The last paragraph and a half were very enlightening, because it echo’s the way I’ve recently discovered seems to be a way to reduce stress.
…my usual policy became that if someone wanted to defeat me in a battle, I would allow that person to defeat me.
I realized that the “winner” in these conflicts usually has more trouble than the “loser.” So I would allow the other person to be the “winner” and deal with the trouble they created for themselves by being the “winner.” As the “loser” I always had less responsiblity and less work to do. It was a great strategy.
Being raised a “man” I was taught to fight every injustice. Stand up for myself in every situation and go down swinging. Unfortunately, those sentiments don’t always work in the real world. What I should have been taught is to learn to pick your battles. There are times that you must stand up for yourself and you cannot be a doormat, but there are also times when a conflict is so stupid and so meaningless, it’s just easier to lose and walk away. You end up winning in the end.
A prime example would be the whole concept of going above and beyond. I’ve always been that guy who worked extra hard and wanted to be the best. It helped me in some jobs, but not my current one. Going above and beyond only got me extra work with no extra compensation. It got me put into bad situations where I was mistreated and made to feel miserable. It took me a couple of years, but I realized there is no light at the end of this tunnel. There is no grand promotion or recognition. It’s just more tedious work and be taken advantage of.
So, I pulled back on the reigns. I withdrew but still stayed productive. I get my job done, and done right, but I don’t go above and beyond. I don’t put in any extra effort. I shy away from any extra tasks and I don’t look for kudos. I come in, do my job, and go home. I collect a paycheck and that’s it. And you know what? My life got a lot better. I mean, shockingly better. My anger and frustration at work was reduced significantly and every day is a little more tolerable. I look forward to the day I find a new job and hopefully my work ethic will be rewarded, but until then, I’m happy to be the loser and go home happy.