Should You Run the Rat Race?

We’re all too familiar with the story of two neighbours. One of them gets a pay raise and splurges on a flashy car. The other neighbour wants to gain one-upmanship and buys an even flashier sports car. This enrages the former. He spends a fortune upgrading his house, throws a lavish party inviting family, friends and neighbours. The latter doesn’t want to be left behind. The rat race continues. 

rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. The phrase equates humans to rats attempting to earn a reward such as cheese, in vain. It may also refer to a competitive struggle to get ahead financially or routinely.

The term is commonly associated with an exhausting, repetitive lifestyle that leaves no time for relaxation or enjoyment. – Wikipedia

There’s a rat race with enormous shoving and pushing happening these days. Everyone’s racing to some place, trying to be better than the one ahead. Thanks to social media, the race only got tougher and uglier. The emergence of a consumerist society has further placed the odds in favour of the risks. 

By running this race we risk losing this – “Living a life.”

We presume that we’re pushing and shoving our way past others. But in reality we are only jostling against ourselves. This isn’t a race which we win. It isn’t one in which anyone wins. It’s a race against time; and history has shown – that the odds are always in favour of time.

We have established a base line for the type of life we lead in society. We do not want to lose the “Social Status” we have awarded ourselves. There is a constant need to keep up with the Joneses. This fear drives us to work more, earn more and we start the endless cycle of hoarding. 

Enter the Hedonic Treadmill. The Hedonic Treadmill ascribes that happiness will always return to a baseline level, regardless of what happens to people in their lives. At first it seems like the more the merrier. That shiny new car which was exciting to drive doesn’t feel shiny after a few months. That VIP club membership doesn’t make one feel like a VIP after a year. So we head on to the next thing which will satiate our competing desires. 

This puts us in a constant state of flux and worry about missing out on the next BIG thing. Amidst this we lose track of the important things in our life. Enjoying a sunrise, sharing a quiet moment with a loved one, taking a dip into your inner self and experiencing clarity. These are moments that make the possessions you hoard seem completely insignificant. 

There’s insane focus on competing with others. In doing so, we cast away the wonderful world each one of us have created. We can savour every moment of this journey when we walk our own path. We have created our own world to have a fulfilling life. Let us not use it as a barometer to measure success. It isn’t worth expending all our energy chasing happiness only to find that there’s none left to be happy at all. This may very well be the first step in deviating from the life of pointless pursuits. The fear of losing our status in life will start waning and life will be an enjoyable journey.

Often we see the monk smiling in his nineties and the monarch greying in his thirties.

The choice is ours – to either be the Monk or the Monarch.

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