As you face each day, as you face the routine, do you find that you often have days or moments where you stop and wonder what is it all for? Is there a purpose to all this And really – where are we all going?
Some people ask themselves questions like this on a regular basis, while others only in times of extreme hardships or stress. But all of us have at one time or another questioned the purpose of this all.
Through this article we are going to examine the cause of the day-to-day rat race, our motivation for it and then try to find answers for changing to a state that truly serves us and our existence on our own personal path of life.
The Cause of the Daily Rat Race
The alarm clock goes off around 6am. You stumble out of bed as you barely got 6 hours of sleep. You jump in the shower get dressed and run out the door without even a minute to spare for breakfast. Perhaps in between there you had to even make lunches or get the kids ready. Next you drive everybody to where they need to go and drive yourself to your job. You come home for 6pm, you try to assemble a dinner, tidy up the house, put the kids to bed and catch up on some other house chores. You go to bed, but you can’t fall asleep. You finally fall asleep and the alarm clock goes off. Another day begins.
As you read the above description, my hope is that you DO NOT relate to it at all. The sad part is many of us do. Did it sound like your life? And what comes tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that? More of exactly the same.
It seems that in our society today, so many of us are just trying to stay afloat. Never mind actually feeling like we are swimming in enjoyable strokes through life. For most if we are not staying afloat, then we are probably sinking.
It is the same story over and over “too much to do and too little time.” Perhaps that is also one of the reasons why we are so afraid of death – because we are leaving too many things “unfinished.”
Most of our lives always and constantly seem to revolve around “things to do.” We have indeed forgotten our essence because it is not that of “human doings”, but that of “human beings”.
So what is the cause of all this? We think it is happiness, because we are stuck living in the pseudo “if-then” phenomenon. If I do (this), then (I, we, they) will be happy. But living this way leaves us forever in the “wanting” and “waiting” stage. That is why we always feel like we are on the move and constantly have stuff to “do.”
The true cause of it really comes down to one word – money. Those paper and metal pieces that on their own are truly useless, but those are the same pieces that our society instills in us we always need more of.
From an early age, our society tells us to go to school to get a good job, get a good job to buy a house, and work, work, work to have a spouse, kids and buy lots of stuff.
So is that it? That is where we are all headed in a vicious cycle of “make money – spend money?”
Seems pretty sad to me, don’t you think? I mean where is the depth, where is the true enjoyment? Most of us by now sure as heck know that it definitely does not come from material items. So if you have the notion still in your head that money brings happiness – it would serve you better to abandon it. Money can definitely make life somewhat easier, although even that can be argued, but it will definitely not bring any true, long lasting happiness.
But let us step back for a moment and examine the following fact: nobody is forcing you to live this way. Hence if by some miraculous circumstances you are enjoying such a lifestyle, then good for you. But if you are not – then why do you keep doing it? Who are you doing it for? Who are you trying to keep up with?
The answers to these questions, we will cover in the 3rd section on breaking free from this phenomenon.
What do the Statistics Show?
Did you know that statistics show that since the middle of the last century, subjective personal happiness has been on the decline?
That is right, our societies may be getting more advanced, but this does not seem to make us any happier. In fact the opposite seems to be true. So why is that, and what is the link?
For starters let us notice that during those same, past 60 years, we have also drastically increased: the number of work week hours, the number of women working full time hours in the work force, the number of divorces and single parents, and the number of items that keep popping up for us to buy.
Coincidence? Definitely not. We are just putting too much pressure on ourselves and in the wrong areas. We are so attached to status and keeping up with society that rarely do we look at ourselves personally and really decipher what makes sense for us!
As David G. Myers, professor of psychology at Hope College found, it is especially since the mid 1950′s, that personal satisfaction has decreased even more, despite the fact that on a personal level we are wealthier. Here is an excerpt from his research:
“During the last four decades, the average U.S. citizen’s buying power more than doubled. The 1957 per-person after tax income, inflated to 1995 dollars, was $8500; by 2002, thanks partly to the rich getting richer and to women’s increasing employment, it was $23,000. Did this more-than-doubled wealth-enabling twice as many cars per person, and TVs, DVD players, laptops, air conditioners, and cell phones-also buy more happiness? Are those of us who enjoy the abundance of the affluent Western world happier with its “fantastic fineness”-with little levers we can adjust to heat and cool our homes to precisely the desired degree, to release clean water for a warm shower or a cold drink, and to microwave our plentiful food? As research shows, the average American, though certainly richer, is not a bit happier. In 1957, some 35% said they were “very happy,” as did slightly fewer – 30% – in 2002.”
Professor David Myer also states that:
“Indeed, if we can judge from statistics-a doubled divorce rate, more-than-doubled teen suicide, and mushrooming depression-contemporary Americans seem to be more often miserable.”
In his research David also presents data that state the following:
“A further bombshell comes from studies showing that individuals who strive most for wealth tend to live with lower well-being, a finding that “comes through very strongly in every culture I’ve looked at,” reports Richard Ryan (1999). This is especially so for those seeking money to prove themselves, gain power, or show off rather than support their families (Srivastava & others, 2001).”
I strongly encourage you to read his full report on “Happiness” which presents many more fascinating and insightful facts, which you can find here.
So where are we all going? Well not anywhere happy that’s for sure.
Let us therefore revisit the three questions from the first section above:
If you are not happy then a) why do you keep doing it, b) who are you doing it for and c) who or what are you trying to keep up with?
Do you actually know when you are the happiest? For me personally it is when I feel the freedom to be who, what and how I want. It is when I am not on someone else’s schedule but free to express my creations in any way I choose in the moment of now. It is when I connect with nature and not society. It is when I am in a park or in front of the ocean, not in a store or in front of a television.
You may feel the same in many areas. In fact that is our human essence if you admit to it and reconnect with it. We just want to be! Remember we are after all “human beings.”
And where could we be all going? We could be moving toward personal creativity and expression to truly enjoy life to the fullest, but most of us are definitely not moving that way.
I hope at this point you are not thinking how unrealistic it is not to be on someone else’s schedule. The reality you speak of is the reality you create. For example, I will be personally leaving my so called “job” in a few months where I am tied to someone else’s schedule. Do I have a back up? Not anything that would make most people feel secure. But that is exactly it – I am going to create my life and my reality as I go through life. I refuse to live by somebody else’s reality – mainly society’s. I mean don’t get me wrong, I would if it served me and the greater good, but it doesn’t.
The bottom line is that so many of us go through life moving with the “not so happy masses” instead of toward our own personal bliss, because of the following 3 things:
Fear – Fear of what? Well anything and everything from not having enough to not being enough.
Competition – We constantly compete with relatives, neighbors, friends and co-workers for more “stuff”.
Resistance – Resistance to change leaves a lot of us on the same road as the masses, even though we know we do not belong there.
To finish up let us then put this in practical terms. If you do not like where you or your life is “going” then decide today to change. You do not need to have all the answers in this moment, but you need to decide to change and stop the conveyor belt that you are on.
Is it about the house or the car? Houses can always be downsized, so can cars – after all you are not either of them, neither is your worth represented by them. If you are heavily attached to these or any other items and refuse to part with them, then I hope you never complain where you are at, as only you are putting yourself there.
If you are with a partner, then yes it is going to take a very supportive and understanding partner to help you break out. If they are not – that may also tell you something about the quality of your relationship.
If you have kids, stop feeling like you have to give them everything that the commercials show and start teaching them about their own self worth that is measured by who they are and not what they have.
If it is about job security, ask yourself if it really is worth it to go through life in a job you hate for whatever reason just to have it give you what you want. Think about what you are going to say about life when you retire? Where did it all go and with what quality did I live in this existence? I hope you do not end up being one of those people who in their last years say they “got it all wrong.”
Most importantly stop telling yourself you are doing it FOR YOUR….kids, spouse, parents or whomever. You will never be truly happy living life for others.
Breaking away and figuring out life for yourself is not going to be necessarily easy by society’s standards. However, by your standards it will be anything you make it.
If you still need to reflect on this, go out to a major city in the middle of the day, stop and just look around. You may see confusion, you may see madness, you may see unconsciousness and very little if any happiness.
Are you willing to live like that?
Although there are many solutions and personal answers that could be addressed here, look within and you will find many of the answers you need within yourself. I cannot tell you what makes you happy or how each and every situation should be changed for you.
What I can tell you is that everybody deserves to live out life in the happiest and most fulfilling state for them. Along with that everybody has choices in this life, and I mean everybody. But you will never find that happiness or exercise those changes, stuck in the conveyor belt of life with the masses.
So stop feeling tired, drained and run down. Stop feeling like there is too much to do and too little time and start enjoying the moment of now in the way that best serves your personal path of life!