Go For the Bronze! Who are you comparing yourself to?

I love the Olympics! I honor the intent that nations come together in peace and bring their best of the best to compete in sport. And I am so inspired by people who commit everything they have to fulfill their passion and strive to reach their goals. These athletes have forfeited so much of the ‘normal’ life most enjoy, to devote their time to training for their sport. They have spent countless hours in the gym pushing their bodies beyond exertion, following extremely strict diets, day after day, year after year, all in the hopes of shaving a tenth of a second off their time to stand a better chance of winning as they compete against the World’s very best. Parents, family, and friends have sacrificed to support them in their effort. They are accustomed to winning. They have always been a stand-out  athlete in their sport, most since the time they were in elementary school. They have become accustomed to beating their competition and standing on the highest podium. And now they have worked their way through the ranks, eliminating their competition, they are the last ones standing to represent their entire country on the world’s biggest athletic stage…the Olympics!


All eyes are on them as they stand on the Olympic awards podium. They did their very best. Their performance was as good as they have ever been, they gave every ounce of effort and mustered up every hope and dream they had, and they finished at their personal best. But on this day, someone else’s personal best was better. They are not on the top podium, they will not be earning a Gold Olympic medal to bring back to their waiting friends, family, and Nation.


Who do you think is happier – someone who wins an Olympic Silver or an Olympic Bronze medal?


Research says it is the Bronze medal winner. What? How can someone who finished third be happier than someone who finishes second? Turns out the level of one’s happiness depends on whom they compare themselves to. The Silver medal winner is comparing himself or herself to the Gold medalist who took first place. The Silver medal winner is thinking, “If only I would have not taken that one day off, if only I would have not had that piece of cake at my nephew’s birthday, if only…. I could be the one standing on the top podium receiving the Gold medal.”


Whereas, the Bronze medalist is saying, “Whew, I beat out all of the others in the  field to make it into the top three and win a medal!”  Our happiness often depends on whom we compare ourselves to.


Who are you comparing yourself to? Do you often compare yourself to someone who always seems to be able to have more than you?

Try reframing your thoughts, and think of all of those whom you have more than. If you have a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in, clean clothes to put on each morning, running water, electricity, and a healthy meal each day you are more blessed than the majority of the population of the world.  Research suggests that when we are grateful for what we have we are happier than when we focus on what we do not have.  Gratitude…it is the #1 key to happiness.


May your day be blessed,

Dr. Rhoda


Resource: "When less is more: Counterfactual thinking and satisfaction among Olympic medalists." Medvec, Victoria Husted; Madey, Scott F.; Gilovich, Thomas. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 69(4), Oct 1995, 603-610.

Rhoda Wolle