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June 7, 2021

Is the Rat Race really Worth the Compromise?

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.”

This was part of the oath that we would take every sports day at school.

For several years after graduating from school, I did not think much about this line. I was probably too caught up in the humdrum of life that thinking creatively about things was not exactly in my scope of work.

However, after becoming a writer, “thinking” has become an essential part of my existence, and quotes and sayings that I had heard years ago somehow seem to crop up in my mind now, and I find that I can relate to many of them.

The quote mentioned above now makes me think and wonder if it is valid in today’s world.

Today, most of us are living in a constant state of competition. We are all running our rat race, trying to get ahead of our peers.

We are so focused on winning our race that we are no longer interested in “how we play.” Our goal is to win at any cost.

Ethics, morals, and honesty seem to have become words of yore, simply because getting ahead of others is so important that we would rather use any means to succeed.

Our race is so important to us that we do not even bother stopping to think about what we are chasing and why we are chasing it.

In our mad rush to get ahead of others, we have normalized words like stress. Don’t we say “stress is normal?” We always find ourselves with hardly any time on our hands.

What “race” are we trying to win?

What “game” are we playing?

The game probably is the “game of life.” And, the “race” is about getting ahead of others in terms of our material possessions, wealth, assets, success, power, and whatever else we can accumulate in life.

We have come to believe that these things will make us happy and make others look up at us. And so we are justified in chasing them.

Unfortunately, we force even our children to participate in our race because we want to flaunt them as a symbol of our success. And the poor kids are a part of the rat race even before they can comprehend what is going on in their lives. They grow up living in a state of competition. The rat race becomes a normal part of their life. 

What are we losing out on in the process?

Our financial and career goals are so important to us that we do not care about our relationships. People around us simply exist. We do not feel the need to connect or interact with them. In most cases, even those people are busy running their respective races.

This has taken a toll on our emotional well-being. Often, we find that even though we may be achieving success repeatedly, we feel a kind of emptiness. We rush to psychiatrists, counsellors, or life coaches to find a solution. Little do we realize that if we spent some time with members of our family, we would not require these entities to fill our emptiness as much.

One of the most repeated lines in today’s world is “I am busy, I don’t have time!” And, we find that we do not have much time for exercise, relaxation, and healthy eating. This impacts our physical health and we rush to doctors to find a cure for our ailments.

When we are busy chasing our goals, we miss out on little pleasures in life. We miss out on the beautiful butterfly on our balcony or the glorious sunset we can see from our bedroom window and the simple beauty that nature has provided us. But of course, we want to experience them. So we take out time from our busy schedules to go to exotic locations for a “holiday” to look at the sunset or the flowers. 

Is this race really worth it when you have to compromise on:

Your physical health? 

Your emotional well-being? 

Your relationships?

Your value systems?

Isn’t it time to pause and rethink life?

Should you not ask yourself where you are heading and why?

If your ultimate objectives in life are name, fame, and wealth, then take a look at the lives of people who have it all—the celebrities in movies and the business tycoons.

If you look at the personal lives of these people, you will realize that even after reaching what most of us would define as the “epitome of success,” many of them have an alcohol addiction, are seeking psychiatric help, or suffering from broken relationships.

But they have luxurious houses, the best of cars, and they are always impeccably attired in the best of brands with the most expensive accessories. 

The truth is that even with the best of material possessions and abundant wealth, we can still be lacking in inner peace.

They have houses but do not have homes.

These are people who have created incredible lifestyles for themselves with their hard work and determination. But after achieving everything, they are looking for substances to fill a hole.

While there is no harm in being ambitious and trying to achieve goals, wealth, or things, what we need to do is establish checkpoints in life where we stop and assess whether we are proceeding in the right direction or not.

Whether the pursuit of goals is hampering any other area of our life.

It is all about conscious living, where we focus on all aspects of life and work toward our goals in a balanced manner.

We may reach our goals later than our peers, but does it really matter?

Imagine leading a life where you do not compromise on your values, but instead, you have healthy relationships and are physically and mentally healthy while slowly heading toward your goals. Isn’t that a better way?

I’d like to think so.

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