Everyone loves it when an underdog wins. Their victories are thrilling.
These types of outcomes are unexpected. They rarely happen because most underdogs listen to the rhetoric about how they have no chance of winning, and they accept it. They may say, “We’re going to give it our best shot” or “We hope to make a game of it,” but few people come out and say, “I don’t care what the odds are. We are going to win this game.” Why do underdog stories make us feel so good? It seems to be that the teams didn’t believe that they weren’t supposed to win. When they believe in themselves and beat the odds, it shows us that we can too.
In every case of a major upset, if the underdogs had believed what everyone else said—that they were not good enough—they never would have been able to pull off a victory. But they focused on two ideas:
- it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, and
- anything is possible.
Right now, Millennials must feel like underdogs losing the battle because they came into the game late, and the generations before had a huge lead and then squandered it. The Baby Boomers had social triumphs (civil rights, feminism), astonishing innovations (space travel, computer technology), and prosperity. Now we have underfunded pension plans, a diluted Social Security system, and an aging population ill-prepared for retirement. As the number of people retiring grows, it is not surprising that both Generation X and Millennials feel the stress of supporting a massive retirement system with substantially fewer workers, not to mention other concerns such as their own job prospects and punishing student debt. Consequently, they spend a lot of time looking to the future worrying about how their lives will unfold.
As long as our thoughts remain in the future we will continue to experience stress. Stepping back and observing our thoughts creates the conscious awareness we need to transform the experience of stress into a feeling of peace. That act of observation helps us achieve this by slowing down the negative thought process about our stressful experiences in the external world and shifting our thoughts to the quiet peacefulness of our inner world. Until that shift takes place, stress remains our most unwanted companion.