Keeping Score

We learn as children to keep score. Mostly it’s us vs the world and we always want to win. Adults introduce games to us with simple score keeping. We learn to check the score whenever we feel nervous about our standing during the game. Then, all of a sudden, the games end and real life begins. We replace our classmates with colleagues, our school bus for our starter car, and our parents’ home for our own small studio apartment. But we never replace our score keeping ways.

We know it’s healthy to start new relationships, new jobs, and move to new communities with a blank slate. But we use that blank slate to begin keeping score immediately. We judge others to make ourselves feel superior. We avoid reality instead preferring to look to our own personal scoreboard for validation. We make friends with those that reward us for winning against others. We mock those who back our rivals. We don’t understand when someone is given praise in the real world who is way behind us on our own scoreboards. We eventually lose the need for any referee, instead making up rules as we go along in life. By the end of our lives we are always the winners. When our grandchildren ask us why we aren’t successful, happy, full of love and compassion, or loved by our peers… (all things you would think winners of life would have) we simply say that we were right but the world was wrong. Of course.

But there is another way. It is natural for us to keep score based on the rules and guidelines of humanity we were taught as children. This acceptance of some sort of measuring stick is not the target of my criticism. But the inability to learn and adapt is unacceptable in the 21st Century. When we feel our own scoreboards aren’t in line with reality we must begin to ask difficult questions. Are we wrong? Is my community wrong? When I was living in a country where spouses commonly cheated on each other, I knew that I was right and they were wrong. I refused to cheat on my girlfriend even though my local friends would have thought nothing less of me. In these cases you must be strong in your convictions. But when I refused to help a beggar in this same country I was looked down upon by my local friends. They could not accept this form of selfishness in the same way I could not accept their infidelity. I used that opportunity to judge my reasoning for helping or not helping folks on the street. My fear of being scammed overpowered my compassion and faith in humanity. I had to risk losing on my own personal scoreboard. And that’s OK. We don’t need to win all the time. We can take the best from where we are as we also teach those around us the best we have learned from the rest of the world. It can be a win/win if we allow ourselves to be wrong.

Everyone likes to win. But it really only feels good to win if we know we’re playing by everyone’s rules. Cheating brings no true long term pleasure. Be aware of your own rules, never stop trying, but also never stop learning. Be aware of your surroundings and do your best to ask questions. Find out why people act the way they do. Search for understanding.


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