Happiness Tips Relationship

Did Charles Darwin have it right when he put Competition over Cooperation?

competitionLet’s kick this little Tip off with a quote and then I will suggest what I believe this means for us as individuals and our happiness, fulfillment and joy in life.

Greg Bradden tells us in his great book Deep Truth: Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny, and Fate; ‘According to prestigious journals such as Nature and New Scientist, cooperation always benefits individuals and society. In the April 2008 edition of New Scientist, Michael Le Page says this very clearly. He says, “What we see in the wild is not every animal for itself. . . . Cooperation is an incredibly successful survival strategy. When cooperation breaks down, the results can be disastrous.” Le Page is one member of the scientific community now sharing the new discoveries that show us the Darwinian idea, survival of the strongest, is not the rule of nature. It may happen sometimes, but it is not the rule. It is not the law that life is based on.’

Did Darwin have it right (or wrong)?

So the latest peer-reviewed scientific papers are suggesting that maybe Darwin didn’t have it entirely right. Maybe some species evolve by force (like the  old saying ‘survival of the fittest / strongest’ implies) but this is the exception and not necessarily true for humanity. The challenge is that the old saying and belief system associated with it, leads individuals, organizations and industries to believe that if they are not climbing for the top, often at the expense of the apparent ‘weak’, then they will not survive. It turns out that it is cooperation is the key to success and the fruitful evolution of us humans. And this applies at all levels.

  • If an organisation’s staff cooperate well together, it will thrive.
  • If all the cells in our bodies cooperate harmoniously, we thrive.
  • If our business cooperates with like businesses, we all thrive.
  • If we cooperate with the environment it will continue to thrive (and give back more).
  • If we cooperate in our relationships, they thrive.

If on the other hand we applied aggressive ‘competition’ – as Darwin suggested – we would end up with economic hardship, environmental disaster, and the absence of global peace. And yes I am being a wee bit cynical. We may have followed the wrong dude (Darwin) down the rabbit hole.

So what to do?

Lean into cooperation. When you catch yourself being too competitive and thinking in terms of ‘if they win I lose’ – step back for a moment. Ask yourself if there is an opportunity for cooperation (and a bit of WIN-WIN action). Playful competition is ok, but aggressive competition does not lead to happiness. There is a great relationship saying which goes like this: “You can be right or you can be in love.” Sometimes ‘winning’, is not the winning that counts. This is the stuff that counts – happiness, health, harmony, peace, vitality, joy, abundance, connection, etc.

On a very personal note, I have found the more I traveled the world, the more I read, the more I worked on being a better me; the less competitive I became. These days I watch sport with little to no bias towards a team. Even (and I know my mates will throw beers cans at me for saying it) when I am watching a game of rugby between Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps my lack of competitiveness means I will not be a billionaire, I will not live in a mansion, and not even own a car; but in the bigger scheme of things, I am ok with that. I would rather make a positive difference in peoples lives, leave everyone feeling better after hanging out with me, leave a small footprint on the planet and have more fun along the way. Just my thoughts…

What other amazing things is science suggesting 100+ years after Darwin?

  • A living organism cannot be created from non-living elements (so how was the first life form on earth ‘created’?)
  • The whole ape to human process looks a little shaky
  • We are connected with each other and the environment (the space between us is not made up of nothingness) – so what we do always impacts others
  • The end of the Mayan calendar actually is in alignment with a typical 5,000 year planetary cycle which generally means a period of upheaval before the next cycle – so get ready for some major changes in the next 5-10 or so years


Written by Carl Massy – Author of The Guidebook to Happiness. A very definitive guide to the biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to raising your default level of happiness.

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