Why bronze medalists are happier than silver winners

Obviously, with so many athletes competing not everyone wins the gold. Some win a silver medal and others a bronze.

Interestingly, an article in Scientific America pointed out that those athletes who win a bronze medal are more satisfied with their victory than those who win silver.


The difference? Bronze medal winners are acutely aware of how close they came to not winning a medal at all. Silver medal recipients on the other hand focused mostly on how close they came, but didn’t, to winning it all. It’s the difference of perception between not losing and not winning.

A not losing attitude creates a sense of gratitude for getting what you got.

A not winning attitude creates a sense of disappointment for getting what you got.

Make sense? If you were expecting a 10% raise but only got 7%, you are more likely to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you were expectinga 7% raise but got 10% you would be grateful. Getting a C+ on a test instead of the expected C- can make for a pretty good day. Going from anticipating an A but getting a B can mar your whole day.

Every once in a blue moon I fly fish. Sure there is the “big one” that got away (told in tall tales). But catching anything at all is pretty exciting and considered a good day. I’m grateful I was able to nab a fish at all even if it wasn’t the gold medal of rainbow trout.

A person’s achievements matter less than how that person subjectively perceives those achievements.

So, how do you not lose when you don’t win it all? It boils down to a well-worn cliche:

“Choose an Attitude of Gratitude”

It’s the difference between satisfaction or disappointment and between contentment or bitterness in the game of life.

How are some ways you instill that attitude in your day to day life? What are some examples?