“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat” said Lily Tomlin, American actress and comedian. That’s an acute and deep analysis of the frenetic chase oriented lifestyle that most people seem doomed to live over and over, all their lives! A blind race after the so-called finer things in life; for money and power and social position and accepted definitions of success; a running in place simply to keep up with the next person; all these factors have combined to make the modern Human a driven creature running, running, till the day they die.
But is this the only possible way to live and be? Isn’t there any other way to have a full, and fulfilling, life? Are the stress and daily angst of the rat race; the associated physical, emotional, and mental health problems; the inescapable evils of a modern life? Not necessarily, as a lot of people around the world are discovering. Opting out of the rat race is becoming a distinct possibility in the age of information, technology and outsourcing and the possibilities have only improved manifold over the last year, as the world, and corporate, have realized the alternatives to the 9-5.
There are numerous stories of people seizing control of their own lives and changing direction in mid-stream. From sales professionals giving up lucrative jobs with MNCs in order to teach MBA, to engineers turning restaurateurs; young people are choosing to walk away from the high stress, high speed, and insane run up the ladder, to do something they enjoy. It’s huge! It’s a risk! But most of them agree, it’s worth every minute of it! They may make less money, at least for a while, but what they gain instead more than makes up for the financial loss.
First of all, there’s a huge fall in stress and angst levels. That brings with it massive health and lifestyle benefits. Occurrence of diabetes and hypertension are sky high in most professions these days. Younger and younger people are being afflicted, and most of them have no family history of either disease. Experts agree that this is caused by the high levels of stress these people function under, everyday. Heart attacks are happening younger and younger, and fertility and libido are way down in most urban centers. Get rid of the stress, and voila! Problems are reduced significantly, sometimes even totally disappear!
Less time spent running after money or the next gadget or the newest television means more time on your hands for doing things you love and spending quality time with family and friends. Creative pursuits, hobbies, and social interaction, all reduce stress further, not to mention make life a joy, and give an immense amount of meaning and fulfillment. And the really fun thing is that you don’t even have to give up on the money! Consultants make good money these days, as can freelancers and business owners. Maybe it wouldn’t be as much as your executive salary package, at least for a while, until you build things up to that level, but the advantages are many too. And with modern technology, as we have already seen this past year, it is highly possible.
So take a serious look at your life, and consider opting out of the rat race. Even thinking about it helps. Feeling like you have an out, anytime you want it, makes the here and now less like a jail sentence and more like a choice.