The first job I was fired at was Straw Hat Pizza. I was fired for serving my fifteen-year-old friends a pitcher of beer.
This began my career of getting fired from jobs.
Fired from my job as a shoe salesman for being too indignant, fired as a barista for not being friendly enough, fired as a mortician’s assistant for not being able to handle the heat, fired from my job selling bagels, fired from my job at Macy’s for ringing up my own sale (twice), fired as a waiter for kicking a snobbish customer out of the restaurant, fired as a waiter for not attending to customers well enough, fired, fired, fired.
Final job I was fired at: A high end and crowded restaurant in Sacramento where I was working as a bartender and was fired for being too slow.
I was never good at being a good loser. I felt like all these jobs were beneath me and I was angry about having to work at them. I was a great writer and artist who was stuck being a servant. I was always pissed off. I wanted revenge. I felt unfairly treated. Singled out. When it came time for my firing, I hated the people who fired me. “Who me?” “You fired me?” “Really?” Even though in retrospect I deserved my constant firing, at the time I felt like a perpetual injustice was being committed against me. I refused to give up. I became an alcoholic. I went on Paxil. Shows you were the mind of someone who is not a good loser can be.
I, you, we live in a culture saturated with “winning” messages. We are obsessed with achieving and winning. Obsessed. You are probably chasing after something right now as you read this. “How to be richer.” “How to be more successful.” “How to have the tools of the masters.” On and on. Blogs are filled with these messages. These how to be a winner titles, essays and speakers always forget to add one point at the end of whatever they are saying. “And finally, this is how you will end up miserable.” The constant desire to win, to achieve more, to become better at something is ultimately a recipe for disaster. This is why as a psychotherapist I am interested in how to succeed at failing, at being a nobody, at being obscure, at being an outsider. How to be a good loser. This is I feel the only way anyone can be saved from the misery, high-anxiety and unhappiness that is all pervasive in our Western culture today.
The Italian philosopher Franco Bifo Berardi often talks about how the contemporary global system should be defined as one of absolute capitalism. Absolute capitalism is a system in which the only effective principles are those of value-accumulation (winning), profit-growth(achieving) and economic competition (short term gain for long term pain). All other concerns such as human well-being, life satisfaction, intellectual and creative fulfillment, survival of the planet or the future and mental health of the next generation are subsumed to these greater goals. Basically absolute capitalism, which is only going to get greater with the addition of Donald Trump into the equation, is a system that does not care about what is best for you.
Being a good loser means giving up. Good losers give up. Shitty losers don’t. It is that simple. Why is it important to give up when you lose? Because losing is the fundamental nature of all existence. We all lose in the end. Everything we achieve, we will have to lose. Loss is the name of the game. It is the direction we are all heading in. Trying to oppose this direction is like trying to hold back the turning of the earth or push away gravity. You can’t do it. You will get crushed. This is why you are so stressed out. Don’t take my word for it. Keep being a shitty loser. Keep stressing yourself. Keep listening to Tim Ferris and Anthony Robins. They are making a fortune off of perpetuating a system of absolute capitalism. You will be the one who will ultimately lose.
I think the crucial question and a much less expensive one (have you seen how much those Anthony Robbins workshops cost?) to be asking ourselves at this point in history is, what have I lost at?
Have I lost at keeping the relationship functional and fulfilling? Have I lost at trying to make a lot of money? Have I lost at becoming successful at my dream? Have I lost at enjoying my job? Have I lost at being able to be in great shape? Have I lost at trying to eat healthy? Have I lost at having a vibrant sex life? Have I lost at writing novels? Really make a sober assessment of what you have lost at at this point in your life and then rather than trying to achieve more or do better (absolute capitalism), give it up. LET IT GO. Stop trying. This is how you can get yourself more in line with the nature of existence and the end result will be a less pressurized life..
I’m still working on becoming a good loser. Have not mastered the art yet. If I had, I would not be writing this, since I have lost at trying to “make it” as a writer. But I keep writing anyways. I keep trying and in a way this just keeps me feeling frustrated and unsatisfied. I often tell myself that if I can just give up the need to be a writer I would be much happier in my life. But I can’t seem to give it up just yet. I have gotten better at giving up at many things that I have lost at, but there is still room for improvement. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to be a really good loser and then I can just enjoy whatever time I have left on earth. I will have gotten rid of this spasmodic and infectious need to compete, to achieve, to attain more, to accumulate, to profit, to be more than the loser that I really am and as a result I will finally live in peace.