Why I rejected societal norms and opted to escape the herd
By Peter R
Some may categorise this article under ‘self-help’ but I prefer not to exclusively use that term. Often we get trapped into helping ourselves at the cost of aiding others. By and large we live in communities, surrounded by people from varied walks of life.
By focusing on this communal experience we can enhance our own lives through interacting and helping others. This is the type of self-help that I am proposing. A self-help that does not have a single function but rather helps the individual and the community at large.
Remember, no man (or woman) is an island. No individual can live as such. We all need people for support and interaction. It is this interconnectedness that helps us to live.
As for my own beliefs, I would describe myself as a Spiritual Atheist. I do not subscribe to a worship of a singular entity like Christianity or Islam. However, I do think there is a place for spirituality and community in today’s society.
While I do not engage in any form of prayer, I am not averse to relaxing my mind through Buddhist relaxation techniques and meditations. I believe in a spiritual ecology and respect the pagan principles of Mother Earth.
People are stewards of the earth. We are required to care for our surroundings and treat plants, animals and living breathing eco systems with the respect they deserve, by acknowledging the key role they play in our existence.
In these hectic times we can allow the world to pass us by. We spend too long living in the past and reliving old times or regretting old decisions. Alternatively we live in the future, by planning our moves and listing the many things that we wish to do in our lives.
Future planning is a good thing and being prepared and setting goals is a good thing. But we should not allow ourselves to live out our present lives in the future or in the past.
As the great singer/songwriter John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making all of those plans” and this is very true. It can become a problem when our past or future endeavors start to consume us and we are unable to live in the moment, or in the present.
Peter’s quick tips
Go and hug a tree. Try it out right now. Feel the warm glow and connection with living organism. Go and eat some insects. everyone’s seen the lion king! Become a Freegan. Waste not, want not.
Relax by the river and enjoy the simple pleasures of fishing. Fresh fish are great for the body too. abandon the Search for Utopia. It is a false trial and cannot be found.
The Spirituality of AA and the 12 Steps
Whether you wish to include the mention of (a particular) God, gods or any other spirit being is entirely your decision and the inclusion or omission on such is not the point of listing these steps. T
he point is, rather, the fact that it is good to have a solid routine to follow when we are engaging in any form of ‘meditation’. Again when I refer to meditation I know that you may conjure up images of chanting monks or closed eyes and humming but I mean it in a looser sense of improving wellbeing and encouraging stillness and focus.
These are important things to master when coping with everyday life.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
A lot of people, particularly those who hold 9 to 5 jobs, are often unhappy and bone-tired. Some are even desperate for something new.
Holding a job can become very exhausting. This is especially so if the pay isn’t that great. You work for long hours and yet get very little compensation or recognition for the effort that you put in. This can pile on the frustrations, but you need to continue to work because you need to make a living.
But what if there’s a way to make a change? An escape from the Rat Race?
The Rat Race Concept
The present urban working life is characterized by unpleasant, constant, and grueling competitiveness. It is not surprising that it is referred to as the rat race.
The 9 to 5 work lifestyle that enslaves modern society is a rat race. People are like rats in a maze competing relentlessly with one another to get to the cheese first. The cheese is a miserable recompense and yet rats persist in competing for it.
Holding a job requires you to compete with your co-workers to get a pay raise or a promotion. You put in long hours. Everybody wants to get ahead, oftentimes at the expense of family life, leisure, and reflection.
The rat race typically involves the lack of work-life balance. You have very little room for independent and creative output. Holding a job usually involves long commutes, high-level stress, and a general dissatisfaction with life.
The Rat Race and Society
Society clearly supports and enforces the concept of the rat race. Almost everybody seems to think that material gain defines success. Every little child is bombarded by the message – from his parents and the school system, that if he wants to be successful in life, he has to study well, join the workforce for a well-paying job, get promoted, and get rich.
Our culture dictates that material success is the be-all and end-all of all our efforts. It is the primary consideration. Relationships, contentment, and personal happiness do not even come close.
It is not far from the truth to say that everybody is enslaved and held hostage to the dollar, pound or currency of choice.
People who are employed have to contend with multiple problems. They have to cope with heavy workloads and hectic schedules. They have to deal with a work environment that is largely competitive, goal-oriented, and coldly impersonal in character. They have to deal with stress and anxiety.
People often feel that they have no control over their lives. They run from one task to another. They handle multiple responsibilities. There is very little room for creativity, a satisfying high-quality home life, and personal satisfaction.
It is not surprising that there is a large percentage of unhappy, desperate people who suffer from emotional fatigue, depression and burnout.
Our present-day society seems preoccupied with material possessions and comforts. It attaches great importance to money and the comforts and luxury it can buy. There is very little room for cultural, intellectual, and spiritual values.
Consumer materialism has led people to accumulate debts. There are many individuals for whom work becomes a means for self-preservation rather than an occasion for economic advancement. They accumulate a pile of bills from leading luxurious lifestyles that they can hardly afford. Now they have to spend the rest of their lives working to pay off their debts. Their jobs have become a form of slavery.
A lot of people are sick of it all. They want to break free from the rat race. They are fed up with the long back-breaking work hours. They want to break free from being programmed to purchase things that they don’t really need. They want to be free of debt.
How to Break Free
A good, well run company is responsible for seeing to it that its employees are given the resources to manage their increasingly demanding roles. It has to find ways to enable their staff to meet targets (even demanding and ambitious ones) through the application of reasonable time and effort. It has to provide technical and managerial training to help their staff cope with work demands. Many now provide stress management training like meditation, relaxation techniques, energizing hypnosis, and other similar ones to enable its employees to effectively manage mounting pressure.
That being said, it is your responsibility to acknowledge ownership of your life – and to see to it that you live your life in a fulfilling, joyful, and holistic manner. It is your life – live it.
Here are some suggestions which you may find useful:
Consider your options.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about how to make a living.
Nobody dictates that you have to plod your way Monday to Friday on a 9-to-5 work schedule. Nobody says you have to hop straight into a full-time desk job right after you graduate from school. Nobody can do anything if you decide not to suffer through 40 years of full-time work. You can opt to retire even before you reach 60 – and nobody can do anything about it.
Listen to your own drummer.
Do not allow your parents or society to dictate what you should do. If you want to leave the rat race, go right ahead.
Don’t live to keep up with the Joneses or to impress your neighbors.
A lot of people work or get into debt to buy things (which they don’t really need) with money (that they don’t actually have) just to impress their neighbors.
A lot of people fall slave to having to work hard simply because they want to impress other people. They let other people define their sense of worth. They buy things they can’t afford to impress their neighbors. They accumulate huge debts and live paycheck to paycheck.
Are they happy? Being a slave to the dollar will not bring you real happiness. In fact, it steals your joy.
Get rid of the notion that your success is defined by your wealth.
You don’t have to amass possessions simply to send the message that you are successful.
Do you really have to borrow money to finance another car? Do you really need a luxurious 2500 square-foot house for your family? Do you really need a lot of state-of-the-art equipment and appliances? Do you really need all those designer clothes?
If you live simply, you don’t have to put up with a job you don’t like.
Take a look at your spending habits to find out how you can cut expenses. If you have a family, get them on board.
Minimize going to expensive restaurants for your meals. Make it a habit to prepare easy, nutritious, and appetizing meals at home.
If you are single, you may want to consider moving back to your parents’ home for a while to save money. Or you may want to share an apartment with some friends so you spend less on rent.
Look at your subscriptions. It is highly probable that you don’t need all of them. Cut those that you don’t use much.
Watch DVDs with your family or friends instead of shelling out money to go to the movies. Prepare some popcorn.
Get rid of the cable but maintain the internet.
If you have student loans, look at the possibility of having them refinanced.
Manage your life.
Your life is so much more than your job. It is just one aspect. You have to spend time in quiet reflection to think about what is really important to you. If you want to have a rich and fulfilling life, you have to pay attention and spend time on areas other than work. You have to make time for family, friends, and other social relationships. You have to include nutrition, sports, relaxation, and other fitness and well-being concerns. You have to incorporate philosophy, religion, love, fulfillment, and other similar issues.
Maintain a clear personal vision.
You have to determine what is truly important to you. You have to reflect on your values and strengths. You have to have a clear purpose in life. What are your life goals? When you know all these, and incorporate them in your life, you add meaning to your life.
Have the right mindset.
You don’t have to stop working full time right now. But you do have to open your eyes to the possibility of quitting your 9 to 5 job. You have to consider other options like a passive income scheme or a business that incorporates passion (teaching scuba diving, blogging, or doing graphic design) and the opportunity to make money.
Rising Above the Material
A person who can’t break free from the rat race shows certain characteristics. Shee lets other people define his self-worth. She thinks that being successful is defined by the lifestyle he lives and the possessions she accumulates. But is she truly happy?
A person who is truly happy has joyful, enriching, and emotionally-satisfying relationships. They feel whole. They feels at peace with themselves. They have nothing to prove to other people. They do not feel the need or see the value of endlessly pursuing material gain. They live simply in the way they see fit.
Take a close look at the society that tells you that success is defined by material wealth. It is filled with people who are overweight, frustrated, stressed out, unhappy, and in debt.
Research points out that suicide is the Number 10 leading cause of death in our country. It probably has to do with the fact that a lot of people in this land of milk and honey are depressed from the miserable realization that they live in a dead-end society.
More and more people want to stop being part of a community that is consumer-driven, boring, spiritually empty, hollow, and enslaved to money.
As the great Pink Floyd song once stated: “It doesn’t have to be this way”. There are alternatives. You can break free of consumerism or materialism. You can get out of the rat race.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share this article if you found it useful.