The Fleeting Feeling of Victory
photo by Brendan Lynch
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Have you ever felt like you would be eternally happy if your team just won one championship? Maybe you have followed your team with ever-increasing intensity, longing for a championship or a repeat?

Perhaps you have witnessed your team win it all. What elation, especially if it is an overtime nail-biting clincher! There are few feelings like it.  And few are the moments when you experience it in your lifetime.

Crosby’s goal on Ryan Miller to win Team Canada their 2010 Gold Medal was one of those moments for us Canadians.  But how is it that the joy seems to wear off so quick?

What surprised me is that I woke up the next morning feeling depressed, even after Canada had a record number of 10 Gold medals on home turf.  It wasn’t only the Olympic Cauldron that was extinguished.  It seemed that my anticipation and elation was also extinguished.

I remember many of us moping around after Vancouver’s Stanley Cup loss in 2011 and how the devastation seemed to last longer than any good feelings ever lasted after a victory.

I am not alone in this observation. Here we have a rare glimpse into an honest victor who won the world stage, but went through the same emotions:

“They say my victory at Wimbledon forces them to reassess me, to reconsider who I really am. But I don’t feel that Wimbledon has changed me.  I feel, in fact, as if I’ve been let in on a dirty little secret:  winning changes nothing.  Now that I’ve won a slam, I know something that very few people on earth are permitted to know.  A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad.  Not even close.

The next person who phones is a reporter.  I tell him that I’m happy about the ranking, that it feels good to be the best that I can be.

It’s a lie.  This isn’t at all what I feel.  It’s what I want to feel.  It’s what I expected to feel, what I told myself to feel. But in fact I feel nothing.”*  -Andre Agassi

I haven’t ever personally won a major championship, but I know the joys of winning vaporize quickly while the pains of losing seem to linger.

In my personal experience winning isn’t everything and it certainly doesn’t last.  I have found the camaraderie and friendship with my fellow players much more rewarding than any fleeting win. If I can look in the eye of my fellow player and say I gave it all and they can do the same, that is satisfying. I still do want to win though. I just wish I could remain in that state.

Why do we long for victory that lasts?
Why are we devastated emotionally by loss so much more than we are elated by victory?

*Andre Agassi.  Open:  An Autobiography.  New York:  Knopf, 2009. 167.

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