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Collaboration Not Competition Makes Us Feel Happy & Safe

(Republished with permission. Originally published at NS Wellness providing wellness therapies and health coaching to support mental and physical well-being and boost long term health and happiness.)

A sense of solidarity with others brings us great happiness

We all want to live a happy, healthy and contented lives and recently I have sensed a huge groundswell of people wanting real systemic change to improve our sense of wellness and fulfillment by moving to a society based on shared human and ecological well-being. This has been heightened by the Covid 19 pandemic during which we have had to rely on each other to remain safe. The pandemic has also fostered a growing sense that our future is deeply intertwined with the future health of the planet. The fact is that despite the ‘dog eat dog world’ narrative we’re fed by prominent politicians and some in the media, I believe that what makes us feel happy and safe is knowing that other humans and animals are also happy and safe.

We want safety and happiness for those we don’t know

Recently I watched a series of BBC documentaries on the historical ties between Britain and Africa and was fascinated by the solidarity between ordinary people who were living continents apart when Britain was a colonial power. In the programme, there was a segment about the Lancashire cotton mill workers who went on strike in support of the abolition of slavery in the United States. In order to try and break the support of the mill workers, the U.S based cotton growers stopped exporting raw cotton, putting local workers out of work and into poverty. However, the Lancashire workers stuck to their guns and remained on strike out of solidarity with people they had never even met and who lived an ocean away. But why? Well, they didn’t want their happiness and prosperity to come at the expense of the happiness and safety of others who they recognised as part of the wider human family. They wanted safety for all and knew they wouldn’t feel happy unless that was extended to others.

Happy neighbours = happy lives

I also see this desire for safety and wellness for all in my own Toronto community where we have homeless people who many local residents, including myself stop and talk to and give donations to. Again, why do we do this? Because, making others feel happy and safe is good for our well-being and we want people in our neighbourhood to feel safe in the same way we feel safe. Ultimately happiness is an emotion we want to share, and by sharing it, we contribute to our own overall happiness and well-


Time to shift from ‘survival of the fittest’ to ‘thrival of everyone’

The idea of humans thriving by collaborating flies in the face of the dominant story of human evolution we all know, that of Charles Darwin’s theory of ‘Survival of the Fittest’. But how many of us know that the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ was conveniently distilled from Darwin’s work to serve economic systems where humans are put in rugged competition with each other where only the ‘fittest’ survive? This almost unquestioned idea of competition over collaboration has created huge social inequality and there is mounting evidence that is has made us miserable, even those who have benefited materially from it. But the good news is that other narratives exist and they are gaining popularity. Such a narrative is supported by Austrian scientist Fritjof Capra who has a systems view of human existence where our lives are seen as a ‘network of inseparable patterns of relationships, and the planet is seen as a whole is a living, breathing, self-regulating system. Cooperation not competition is the foundation of this system and Capra and his supporters are calling urgently for maturity of thinking in the global community to embrace this model of human and planetary thriving.

Collaboration NOT competition is the only viable future for our human species

Ultimately all evidence points to the fact that we are happiest when we collaborate rather than compete and it is in NETWORKS that true prosperity and well-being for people and planet lies. My deepest wish and something I work towards, is the day when I ask people what makes them feel happy and well and they say ‘When my own family, the entire human family, the animal family and the entire Earth family is happy too’

NS Wellness offers health coaching and holistic wellness therapies to boost health and well-being.

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