Life isn't a Zero Sum Game

Choosing to be childfree was a very intentional decision. A decision littered with late nights, long walks and a few tears. We thought about our different our life would look without children in the picture, how the decision would impact future choices and plans and it would change our ability to serve. Yet even with all that intentional effort, comments about our free time or 'childfree perks' are scoffed at. "Must be nice.." they say, as if we stumbled into this life and are just so lucky to be where we are. These comments detract from a long, difficult journey and make it seem as though the choices we've made are unavailable to others. Life isn't a zero sum game and we shouldn't be living as though it is.

Zero sum game theory is "..a situation in game theory in which one person's gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so the net change in wealth or benefit is zero.."In simple terms, if one person is winning it means someone else has to be losing. This mentality of 'winning' and 'losing' in comparison to others is fuelled by our own insecurities and fear that we are "falling behind" or missing out.

Newsflash: There is no finite amount of joy or success available in the world. Achievements aren't lifeboat seats, you won't go down with the ship if you don't jump aboard right away.

Just because your friend got a promotion or your cousin bought a house does not mean those things are no longer available for you. Just because I've chosen a path that allows more freedom in my schedule or more downtime does not mean those things cannot be intentionally put in to your own schedule. I'm not 'so lucky', I'm living purposefully. We are the captain of our own ship and it's up to us to steer it in the direction we want it to go. Things don't just happen, people make them happen. I didn't just stumble into this life, I grabbed the wheel and steered my way here, through rough waters and storms, sunrises and sunsets. Now I am enjoying the fruits of perseverance, dedication and intentional living. John C. Maxwell is quoted saying "A passive life does not become a meaningful life.” Passivity will float you out to sea with no heading and ultimately leave you feeling lost. Take time to analyze your life, what things do you like about it? What things do you wish were different? Take that information and form a heading so you can start steering your ship towards that 'ideal' life you want to be living.

Instead of letting the monster of comparison take over, spend more time being grateful for the things we do have. Germany Kent said “It's a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” The more we practice gratitude for all we have and the things we've already accomplished the more we will realize that others success or choices has not cost us anything. We can look forward to celebrating those big wins when they come, but until then we can acknowledge all the small ones that litter the path along the way.

Next time you feel like it "must be nice" or someone is "so lucky" to have something, pause and reflect. Did they work hard to get there? Did they make intentional choices to steer their ship in that direction? What can we do in our own lives to achieve those same goals? Did their success really cost us anything?

“Life is not a zero‐sum game. It owes us nothing, and things just happen the way they do. Sometimes they’re fair and everything makes sense; sometimes they’re so unfair we question everything. I pulled the mask off the face of Fate, and all I found beneath it was chance.”

Benedict Wells