In the end, what really matters?

I have been observing something in the people around me (including myself) for quite some time now. People are trying to outdo themselves. Think about it, when was the last time you:
- sat calmly without thinking of something that needs to be done?
- told someone close to you how important they are to you?
- took a walk in the park (not a fitness exercise)?
- noticed the beauty of nature around you?
- sat down and spoke to your kids/spouse without TV in the background?

On the other hand, you might have:
- snapped back at someone who didn't deserve it?
- abused the driver of another car on the road?
- forgot a date that was important for your family?
- excused yourself from a non-business social occasion?
- delayed that medical check-up yet again?

I think the root of our stressed lives is that we forget to prioritise. We always give an unbalanced weightage to work, and completely forget to give time to ourselves. Everything revolves around work and we have to consciously take out time for 'leisure'. Time-outs have to be planned weeks/days in advance and we have to work harder to 'deserve' that break. And it's not as if this is the management's mentality, it's what we have come to expect ourselves.

We are never satisfied. We want more and more. We earn money to acquire material things, but we forget to enjoy them. Come to think of it, do we really need everything we covet in the first place? Fact is, we have come to equate happiness with more money, more material things. I think we have forgotten what happiness really feels like. Remember childhood, when little things used to make us elated? And they were not necessarily could be a hug from mom or a good game with friends. No more do we think like that. Everything has to be material-ised. You fight with your wife, you buy her diamonds. You are not there for your kids, you give them cell phones/game consoles. You don't have time for your parents, you send them cheques.
In the end, we are actually losing a lot. We are losing time rapidly. We are playing havoc with our health. We are acquiring 'success' and 'status' at the cost of our happiness and contentment.

Upon closer observation, I noticed that the following people are most affected by this unending race:
  • High-flying executives - They are constantly overworked, at their own behest. They schedule time with their families. They are ready to lose their today for a better, richer tomorrow.
  • Working women - They don't really have a choice because they are unable to escape their traditional responsibilities. If they shirk, they are labelled bad mothers and wives.
  • Students - They have to pass brutal competitive exams in order to join this unending race and ultimately lose out on their childhood.

Our competitive society does not let us think differently. Few are encouraged to be artists or writers or musicians - unless they get a big break. In short, you cant stop until you have a Merc in the garage of your three-storey villa and a big farmhouse in the suburbs.

Capitalism is, of course, feeding the fire...the lust to own more...and we are blindly following. I confess, I am not completely unaffected by this either. But we have to draw a line somewhere. We have to learn to love and be happy. We have to stop this self-destructive rush to the top.

Take a deep breath and think about how you want to live your life. Do you wanted to be surrounded by status symbols or do you want to be truly happy? In the end, that's what matters. And that's all you will have left.

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Venky said...

The dangerous thing is that it is not just the high flying exec and the housewife or the student who are in the rat race. There is this compulsive hurry by almost everyone to reach what is commonly hailed as a ‘better level’.

But the definition of what is a higher level seems to be have been warped for almost all of us. Possessions, like you say, are the yardstick. The other factor is ego, a really fragile one that fuels most individuals – from the plumber at the back-end to the cabbie on the road to the CEO – push himself to the front any which way. One whole new generation is learning – a random look at their parents is proof enough - that a short-cut is the right way to get to the top of the ladder. And the best short-cut to winning what is supposed to be a ‘prize’ catch is pursued with frightening vigour, and most often, than not, accompanied by a nasty sneer. The fallout in terms of sanity and health is irreparable.

Maybe, more people should consider what Hemingway once said:” I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently.” But rants apart, maybe more of us should try a little to get things in order.

Vishal said...

The problem in winning the rat race is that you still remain a rat.

Consumer said...

HA HA, look who is talking about making a little effort for his health.Enough said.

Amodini said...

Very true. Which is why I'm always amazed when in India I see rickshawallas (the cycle kind) take their afternoon siestas - that is so anti-rat-race !

Enigma© said...

That is wat happens dear in this world. You dont want to be a part of this so called rat race.. but u cant help urself from it. Even i keep wondering why we're like this. But after all. We too are in race. and we cant help ourselves out of it. That is wat is the problem with middle class families. Even if u beg to differ, the society and its norms never allow u to do so.. Even i posted a similar kinda blog.. chk mine if u find sm time..

ApplesH said...

This happens I think around the world. It is the same here in Manila (Phils.). Everyone seems to be stressed out and complaining about the balance of their lives or rather the lack of it.

Nice blog! Do you mind if I link to you? Thanks!

yves said...

Hi again Tarana,

I'm traipsing through your blog, and noticing how much I like your style, your approach to those things I also find important to say and live. That poem about dawn, that review of Hussaini's book (Amandeep our Indian lectrice from Delhi had actually spoken to me at work recently about The Kite Runner some days back), and the condition of Indian women... and then this article on What really matters? I've sent the link to my wife who's on a student exchange in England right now.

PS I remember now who introduced me to your blog, it's Amodini.

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