I took my children on a typical “autumn outing” today – hayrides, pies, etc. We had a wonderful time, and one of the activities was picking sweet potatoes. In addition to just being fun because we’ll get to eat those later, it also showed me a very interesting lesson – as outings with my children so often do.

You see, all three kids were doing the same activity. But each had declared a totally different goal for themselves. My oldest wanted to find the biggest sweet potato she could; each time she did she’d immediately start searching for an even bigger one. My middle child wanted to find the smallest she could find – her obsession with cute, tiny things apparently extends even to root vegetables, and she wanted something adorable. My youngest just wanted the most; he was obsessed with the ever-increasing pile and straining the structural integrity of the bags we had for the purpose.

Same activity, three totally different victory conditions. Apart from the marvellous fact that this resulted in zero arguments or competition between the kids (hooray!), it really demonstrated a lesson that I think we often forget as adults.

No one else gets to tell you what “winning” is. You pick your own games, and you don’t have to pick the ones other people are playing. You can be happy and have fun for any reason in the world. Biggest, smallest, most, least, fastest, slowest, anything in betweenest. When someone else is happiest, we should cheer the loudest for them. And we should pick our own victory conditions – that’s what makes life sweetest.

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