“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation
Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations. I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks. So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.
And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.
It’s a win-win. Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.
As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism. And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism. One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it. It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society. It’s a system where no one has to lose. Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can. It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*
But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set. They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser. If you’re doing better I’m doing worse. In reality this isn’t so. With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers. If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them. If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).
But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not. So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them. We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people. But the first part of this is that we have to look for them. So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day). Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved. Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win. And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination. You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred. The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately. It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.
Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others. I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on. This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.” This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend). It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person. So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished. If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser. And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose. Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact. If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.
So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.
*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.