There exists an unfortunate paradox of being human:
Our most valuable victories are those which go without praise
When you win a game, you receive a trophy. When you perform well at work, you are awarded a raise. However, there are no trophies for the real victories in life.
There is no external praise when your worldview changes and you start to view strangers with kindness. No tangible prize exists for when you watch a little less tv and read more books. There will be no podium when you gain self-acceptance and love yourself for being you.
Yet, these are the most significant victories one will have.
Social media is a prime example of this. Scroll down Facebook and look at the warm responses for those displaying to the world their new car, some sport contest won, or a nice dress worn. The “likes'” come pouring in.
We have this sort of false self we portray over the internet. It’s a facade of highlights we believe our peers will deem noteworthy. Albeit nice mementos of this life, the previous accomplishments pale in comparison to our greatest victories.
When was the last time you saw a Facebook post read,
“I didn’t win any games today. I didn’t buy anything of value. I’m actually quite broke and still live with my parents. But today I felt a little more comfortable with who I am. I love myself a little more than I did yesterday. I recognize that my only enemy is my own view of myself, and I am going to change that.”
This is deserving of a “like”.
No one stands to congratulate your efforts when you are alone in your kitchen and choose salad over pasta. No one sees when you try your hardest in your final set of a workout. No one sees when you spend time studying self improvement.
There are no immediate rewards for these actions. This is why so few people partake in them. Yet, as Mark Twain put it…
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
I believe we should spend a little less time on activities deemed valuable by our peers, and more time investing in the unseen victories that yield the truest accomplishments. In the near future, you will not find many “likes” for turning off the tv and picking up a book. There will be no trophies for sitting alone in a room and redefining your own values. I doubt someone will be waiting to give you a celebratory pat on the back for forgiving those who have wronged you.
We must become our own source of praise, and we must recognize our achievements as they occur. We must praise ourselves for making the right choices in solitude. We have the ability to reinforce our own positive behaviors, and are obligated to do so.