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Go you! Go me!

What is it that makes certain things we see or hear, read or witness, touch us more strongly than others? Is it about us being able to relate based on where we are in life? Or does it strike a chord of truth in us, like the worldview we currently hold is stretching a little and growing? In my blog post called "Our life as a movie", I talk about a short scene from a film that touched me a little extra and that has been instrumental in how I view human relationships and what I believe is one of our main tasks in each other's lives. In this post, I want to mention another movie - although it was the book carrying the same title that first crossed my path - that has made an impact on my life: Tuesdays with Morrie. We get to meet the sportscaster Mitch and see how he is profoundly touched and enriched by many encounters and deep conversations with his now dying college professor, Morrie. Each conversation is a gem in itself, but there is one scene in particular that stands out for me. Through sharing a memory, they take us back in time to a sports game in the college gymnasium where a crowd is cheering for one of the teams, shouting "We are number one! We are number one!!" Then all of a sudden, Morrie stands up, exclaiming, "Why, what's wrong with being number two?".

Many years prior to hearing about this book, I sat with a group of friends at home watching Sweden play an important soccer game. I don't remember which country they played or even what kind of championship it was - this is the level of my investment! - but I know we seemed to be on the winning team. And I remember the happiness and celebration of my friends. But I also remember sitting there on the couch and secretly rooting for the team that was losing the game. Without understanding why, I felt for them and wanted them to succeed too. It may seem like a noble gesture to cheer for someone when being in an advantage yourself, but for me this game was never about winning. If the other country would've reached more goals than us, I probably would have cheered for Sweden. An English-speaking friend once told me about their kids' soccer coach, whose motto was "If you had fun, you won!", and with all due respect to all the players and fans out there, that's a good description of what's true for me regarding sports. Actually regarding anything you can compete in. I've always found it hard to truly enjoy a victory unless everyone involved is happy or feeling good, even if it's just for fun. There are several sides to this coin: being happy for and celebrating others in their successes when we ourselves experience headwinds in life; cheering on others in their setbacks and difficulties when we feel good in our own life. But also cheering on ourselves and each other regardless of where we are in life and regardless of how people around us are doing. In those moments when we find it difficult to celebrate the growth and achievements of others, I think is rarely has to do with malice or envy, but rather that we are reminded of what feels difficult and painful in our own lives, that we come into contact with our own longings and dreams.

So much in society – not the least online – gives us plenty of opportunities to compare ourselves with others and each other on a daily basis. I truly believe that our relationships - both those we have with people we know and those we have at a distance with celebrities of various kinds - are valuable, if not necessary, for us to grow and understand ourselves better in what it means to be human. But the problem comes when we start to think that someone else's life experience is better and more correct than ours, when we start to think in shoulds. That we should earn more money, should look different, should be able to do something "better", should live somewhere else, should travel more and own more. Or less.

When we experience drought in life, when things feel discouraging or difficult, what do we need to be able to root for ourselves? Can we be our own cheerleaders? And what would that mean in practice? My guess is that it would look different to each and everyone of us. For me, cheering for myself is often about doing small, even seemingly insignificant things in everyday life differently and to do this when I notice myself going into my default mode of judging and emotionally beating myself up. Sitting down for a minute and enjoying my cup of coffee. Consciously using kind hands when I touch my face, my arms, my legs. Singing for a while. Going outdoors and breathing some fresh air. Taking a hot shower for no good reason other than it feels good. These are not any life-changing, transformative actions, but they allow the part of me who is fighting for dear life to lower its shoulders for a little while and exhale. And with a little bit of luck, I also remember that it doesn't really matter if I'm number one or number two, because life is not a competition. Go you and go me! Go us! Warmly,


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