Before we get into the topic of societal rat race and what it is doing to our lives, I want to take you back to my childhood. Ever since I was a young boy, I always had a feeling of defiance and audacity. I might have looked like I was following the rules and society’s expectations on the outside but, I didn’t accept the orders deep inside. Until today, I don’t just accept something without knowing what it is and understanding it. For a long time, this part of me never made sense and, I was always confused about it until a few years ago. Then I started to look into it and learn about it. I always knew that if I feel like defying our society’s rules and orders, there must be something fishy. Some sense of control limiting us from reaching our highest potentials.
You might feel how I felt, and from my prediction of my readers’ demographics, I feel that there is a big chance that you do. So, let me share some of my findings of how we are trapped in the modern societal rat race, three areas of control we’ve been exposed to and, how we can break free to live our lives by shedding light on these areas altogether.
Here are the three realizations to escape from society’s rat race and fully live your life.
Realization #1: Money
Money is one of the main reasons why people conform to the societal rat race. Historically, money was just proof of owning gold or silver or any tangible asset used in commerce. Nowadays, money is printed with nothing to back it up. Since everyone accepted the banknotes to have value, then it has a value that drives people around. If you analyze your own life and the people around you, most of the things we do daily are based on money, something that we have given an imaginary value to.
People go to work, make deals, start projects to earn money, spend money, save money, lose money, steal money, etc. Like the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, says, “People work for money instead of money working for them.” We are slaves of our finances. So much so that we have built emotions around it. Fear and desire are the two primary emotions that drive us to create our lives around money and spend our whole life chasing it. A poor man has a fear of not paying his bills and, a rich man has a fear of losing all of his money, and with it, his power. A poor or rich man has desires to earn money because they think money can make them feel good. These emotions are why so many people waste their lives working on jobs that they hate because these emotions blind them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against making money, and I believe money is the reward we receive by doing something valuable (not the only prize). It makes me feel amazing when I monetize my ideas. What I’m against is mixing our emotions with money. Once feelings are involved, then that’s when you’re taking part in the rat race. Once your desire to work and be productive is money, then you’re participating in the rat race. Once you are fearful of what money can do to your life, you will not take the necessary risks to grow yourself and, you will let that fear run you for the rest of your life.
If you manage to cut loose the emotions attached to money, then you will truly understand it. You will gain back your creativity. Your eyes and attention will widen to what’s happening around you and, you will catch the opportunities happening around you. Escape this loop of making money, paying bills and get emotional about it. If you do this, you are a step closer to escape from the societal rat race and you will notice how new doors open in your life.
Realization #2: Pre-defined Life Plans
“You should graduate school, earn a good degree, find a good job, get married, have kids, get old, retire, earn your pensions, and die.” That’s what we’ve been told to do in our lives, and almost everyone is following it automatically. I don’t blame anyone here since our societal system is built around this plan. Not doing this plan will have its penalties and difficulties. However, ask yourself, is this plan what you want to follow? Some part of you (the ego) says yes, that’s stability, security, and a safe path to follow. But when was the last time that the ego has led to us to somewhere meaningful?
Our mind, our ego, loves predictable paths and situations because it loves to be in control of our future. Any uncertainty feels uncomfortable, dangerous, and just wrong to do. However, if you truly understand our nature, planet, and universe, nothing is certain; we live in a randomized world with no control. Our mind believes that we’re in control but, that’s far away from being true.
The first step to break loose from this pre-defined life plan, part of the societal rat race, is to observe it. You need to look back and see how precise you’ve been following it, understand where you stand, and find out what is coming next in this plan. Once you’ve become familiar with it, then the next step is to get comfortable with uncertainties. Start with smaller acts and move up to enjoy uncertainties. Start with little things like going places you’ve never been without a plan, randomly turning on to the streets you’ve never been for no reason, meet people randomly, try random new things, etc. Introduce uncertainties in your life and, after a while, you will realize that you enjoy it! You enjoy it because humans are meant to live in a randomized world. Uncertainties are there to provide us with creativity and freshness in life, leading us to happiness.
Once you’ve got comfortable with living in uncertainties, then start departing from the pre-defined life plan. Start doing stuff that doesn’t fit in the plan (obviously not something illegal or dangerous to your life). Once you have departed, then you will notice that new opportunities reveal themselves to you and, you’re living a happier life.
Realization #3: Judgments of Others
Another trap that we face within our society is the judgment of other people. Like how I mentioned in the previous section, our minds are in love with predictable paths. These patterns were useful in the early ages of human survival; however, our life is not in danger anymore, and we don’t need them anymore. Because of these traits, people in society expect others to act in a familiar pattern. These patterns are also related to the previous part of this post when we talked about pre-defined life plans. When you are not following these life plans, people start judging you, correcting you and bringing you back to the “norm.”
Many of us, including myself before and even sometimes now, are scared of these judgments. Sometimes, the thoughts of these judgments become our nightmare. We are raised within families that have taught us to behave in specific ways. These expectations have turned into fear for us and are limiting us from thriving in life.
Everyone is made in a certain way with different life purposes (Dharma). If the societal “norms” expect everyone to act in similar ways, then we would live our lives as factory-made robots following a specific program. It would be best if you dropped this fear of judgment so that you can escape from the societal rat race.
The first step is again to observe. Find out in which areas you care the most about other people’s opinions. See when you get emotional about others’ reactions. Analyze and understand it. The next step is to push yourself to not intake these judgments, eventually, ignoring them and secondly, start doing what you love and what YOU believe is right for YOU! No matter how other people judge it. By breaking free of these fears, you will find yourself doing what you love and what you’re supposed to do. Your actions will feel correct and, you will be more satisfied with your life; because you will find your Dharma, and you will follow it!
Escape from the Societal Rat Race
At first, every new idea might sound crazy and extremely uncomfortable. Our mind is used to keeping us safe by repeating the safe patterns we have developed (our comfort zone). Our society’s godfathers are fully aware of these traits and have set agendas to amplify them, trapping us in the modern rat race that we are facing. However, humans’ consciousness is so powerful that nothing can trap it, and all we have to do is learn how to utilize it. The first step is escaping our traps and becoming awake to what life is all about. Escaping these traps might take years; however, dedication to becoming better than yesterday is the crucial movement here. Never give up on your self-development and be patient. Trust yourself and trust that the universe will have your back in every stage of your life. Observe and understand the traps, take baby steps to get out of them, believe in yourself and your consciousness, and break free!