If you could choose 3rd or 2nd place, you’d choose second, right?!
However, I would suggest choosing 3rd. Here’s why:
Study after study shows that of the three podium spots, 2nd place demonstrates negative emotion towards their results, whereas 1st and 3rd place showed more positive results. Silver medal winners seem to do an upward comparison to the gold medal winners, and bronze medal winners do a downward comparison to those who didn’t win medals at all.
Nascar Driver, Dale Earnhardt, is quoted as having said, “2nd place is the first loser.” This mindset is called “counterfactual thinking.” Second place individuals simply feel like they could’ve taken first, had they made fewer mistakes, or worked a little harder.
Although having a competitive drive is important in sports, when it comes to our fitness, counterfactual thinking isn’t a healthy mindset to have. Think about it….There will always be someone more athletic, with superior genetics, talented, or a younger–there will always be an outlier who simply makes “1st place” in the gym look easy. Trust me, we shouldn’t take anything away from these folks since behind the scenes, there are usually unseen years of discipline and hard work.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to 1st place simply because our circumstances are different, or we haven’t put in the work. If you do, that perspective will leave you frustrated and possibly burn you out, taking you out of the race completely.
If we must compare ourselves to anyone at all, draw a comparison with the rest of the world who are pretty much sedentary. The fact that you’re doing something at all and making better decisions, that’s winning.
If you can’t take 1st, change your perspective, and be grateful to take 3rd…..or, even to be in the race at all.