The Way We Perceive Life

I read this article in Times of India few days back when it made me think how people perceive life. People are very much familiar with the concept of ‘Rat Race’. Since the time I have finished my graduation and started working, I have felt the race around me. It was almost like people were pushing you into it. It started with campus placements where everyone was interested in the salary package that their friends were offered. No one was interested in the role that they were offered. Everyone assumed that it will be ‘software engineer’ role. In my current company I take lot of interviews and none of the candidates ask me what their role is. Everyone is interested in the package.  

Comparing yourself with others doesn’t stop at salary package. People compare themselves with their peers, friends, cousins and even family members on numerous factors – car, property, gadgets and much more. We call these things status symbol and these material objects give a meaning to our life. They feed our ego. We feel that we have accomplished something and achieved more than our parents might have in their whole life.

 I am not against material things, but I believe that God doesn’t give man what he wants, he gives him what he needs. We should strive to have everything that is important in our life – like having a home to live, clothes to wear, nice food to eat. But because of the Rat Race, the definition of what is important has changed and people feel that having these objects is important and they work extra hard just to buy these things.

So there are one sect of people who look at life like a race. They want to play the race and win. If they win, they are happy, if they don’t win they are sad. If someone else goes ahead of them they are sad. I think most of us perceive life in this way since childhood.

Other way of looking at life is like a stage. It means that we all have a part or role to play in this life. We do not look at life as a race, but as a stage where everyone is playing their part. People come on stage, play their part and leave. The lead actor has a major part and the supporting actor might have a lesser one. Of course, this would mean that the lead actor might get more remuneration than the supporting actor. But in this case, there is no competition between the actors. Everyone is not trying to out-do each other as they would have in the race. Everyone knows what part they are playing in life and are happy about it. They are happy in their role and in their work. Getting remuneration for what you enjoy doing is just a bonus, like icing on cake.

Hence I suggest that before we start comparing ourselves with others, see what role they are playing and compare that with the role that you are playing. Most of the times you will be happy with your role and will accept the rewards that come with it.  

Finally, I would like to end this with a favourite quote I had heard long time ago. It goes like this – “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”. And that I think makes all the difference in the way we perceive life.


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