Probability of Winning Is Proportional to Acceptance of Losing

Volume 2, Issue 16

Sharing techniques to attain and maintain Observer and Flow (Zone) states, in earlier posts we described the Yerkes Dodson Law and explained why we perform best when our motivational arousal is moderate rather than extreme, and why ancient Greek and Indian philosophies esteemed nonattachment which we redefined as “losability” the mental/emotional acceptance of outcomes divergent from targeted or desired outcomes.

We also linked motivation to values and therefore recommended a rethink of what you want out of life so as to reset yourself for a fuller life with more capability for creative effectiveness through these two higher states of consciousness, Observer and Flow.

To the degree that you are afraid of losing a match, the more likely you are to lose it; that is the corollary of the title for this week’s post. You get out of this fear by understanding it, the same way you get out of any fear. You might realize in this process before the big game or other big moment that your fear stems from other people’s opinions or judgment of you, and you might decide that it is ignoble for you to be driven by such things. You might then find yourself able to discard such a base motivation and suddenly experience a lasting fearlessness that allows you to win the big game by simply playing it as a game, enjoying the process without attachment to the outcome — the very conditions that cause Flow. This applies to every challenge you face every day, even those you don’t normally think of as challenges.

Perhaps all of us at some point in our lives have gone through the following thought process, which leads one to become motivated by something larger than oneself. This might happen when one has just been called up to be sent to a war zone. One thinks of the option of conscientious objection, running away to Canada (if one is an American), and realizes that some gut feeling inside holds you back. One might then face the possibility of dying on the battlefield. Then comes the thought, well it might be OK if I die, so long as my family is taken care of, and I have prepared for that so they will be. It might be OK if I die so long as America lives and goes on to rekindle its idealism and help lead the world to decency, fairness and justice.

At that stage probably only a few of us — perhaps those who are philosophers — think further down this same track. Well, dying might be OK so long as Earth humanity survives and learns from its mistakes and goes on to a better way of being. And then: well, even if Earth is destroyed, that might be OK if the universe goes on and evolves highly idealistic and kind races. Or even: well, dying might be OK so long as there is a benevolent God and such a God is happy with all outcomes.

There is inherently no operational difference between the first stage of latching one’s motivations to something larger than oneself — e.g. one’s family — and the later stages all the way up to God. In all cases one has already accepted the ultimate losability. I may die, but I’ve set my family up well, they all know I love them, they will grieve and miss me but their lives can be happy with the strength I have imbued in them by example and by loving communication. I can die knowing that my family will be OK — my country will be stronger for what I did while alive — the human race was enhanced by my accomplishments — the Universe and God will certainly be all right with me dead — hopefully I will have added some value along the way, and the universe learned some lessons from my mistakes.

When Bucky Fuller, despondent over a lost love affair, decided to commit suicide he reached the highest realization of his life up until that point: he was now free and could go on living. By agreeing with himself to give up life, he discovered that was harder than giving up the lost woman, and the attitude shift required to decide on suicide had freed him from the cause of suicide. From that point on he had true perspective on what is large and what is small. Perspective is what allows a sense of humor even in the most menacing situations — grace under fire — true courage, the virtue upon which all others are based according to Winston Churchill.

These are the utilitarian values of an attitude of losability.

Best to all,

Bill

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