What is the rat race – a race that never ends?

“What is the rat race – a race that never ends?” is a brainstorming lesson on the rat race concept. The rat race concept begins in a laboratory room where two rats try to outrun each other to get food. The reward was lesser than the energy lost during the process. In Today’s world, we are labeled ‘rats’ and try to outrun each other to get more money and power. The more one tries to get closer to the wealth and power; the more one gets into that mire. It is a vicious cycle and no sigh of relief. We lose our family, friends, and the most precious ‘time’ in that process. Let’s find out some fascinating facts about it.

What is the rat race?

The Cambridge Dictionary says that the rat race is a way of life in modern society, in which people compete with each other for power and money. In simple terms, it is an endless race for money and power.

Today, we are living in a highly competitive world. Many people have to compete with others to get even their basic needs e.g., food, clothes, and shelter. This competition has skyrocketed with urbanization and globalization. Further, our negative emotions also play an essential role in accelerating the race. Thus, the causes are both external and internal. Let’s see how we slip into that mire unknowingly.

How does the rat race begin?

A child goes to school. The parents of the child advise him to do hard labor, get good marks, and find a job. The competition becomes tough. However, the child manages to achieve these things.

He finds a high-paying job and improves his lifestyle. His lavish expenses do not coordinate with the reality. He wants to take a loan to manage his costs. Meanwhile, a bank calls him and gives him a credit card. Now, life is super cool.

After a few years, he ties the knot with a beautiful woman and throws a big party. That’s all on credit. After that, he finds another big house to live in. Further, he needs a big car, branded bath fittings, luxury furniture to show off. He has to work harder now to pay his bills.

Soon a baby sits in the family photo. The expenses skyrocket. The couple celebrates a lavish birthday party. However, debt increases with each expense. Therefore, both of them decide to work. Money pours in. Life seems fresh again. However, more money translates to more taxes. The harder they try to make money, the easier it becomes for the taxman to take his portion. Subsequently, the banker says to take a home loan to save the tax. Thus, they buy another home with modern furniture, and a bigger car this time.

Time gets tougher

The couple needs more money to compensate for the expenses. They work harder and harder to get the next promotion. On the other hand, they have become irritated, depressed, and exhausted. They want to leave, but they cannot as they have bills to pay. Moreover, they have destroyed their family life along with other relations. They are in the rat race and trapped. After that, they advise their child to do hard labor, get good marks, and find a job.

A mythological reference

In the Mahabharat, once a Yaksha asked Yudhishthira a few questions. However, two questions and their answers are relevant to the topic. The two questions were who is truly happy and what is the greatest wonder. Yudhishthira had answered that a person with no debts is delighted, and the greatest surprise is that countless people die day after day, but living beings wish to live forever.

Mahabharat happened in around 3000 BC. That means it was around 5000 years ago. However, you can imagine how truly it depicts the present condition. It describes debt as a miserable condition. It also says about the cycle of the rat race. A rat advises his next generation to study hard and get a job, though he knows that this is a trap. It is like living beings wish to live forever; even they see that countless people die day after day. An amazing correlation!

What causes the rat race?

We are not born as rats but become eventually. There are a few external causes, while others are internal. Let’s find out its origins.

1. The Way We are Brought up

The rat race begins at home. Our parents push us into the rat race unknowingly. They expect a lot from us, and thus we have to compete with our mates at a cost. Therefore, our competitive attitude stays with us forever. Consequently, when we see that someone maintains a better lifestyle than us, we try to overtake him, and the game continues.

2. Easy Loans

Easy loans are another reason for the rat race. Today, you can get instant loan approval with a click of a mouse. There are several NBFCs (Non-Banking Finance Corporations) waiting for a response to disburse a loan. Once your CIBIL Score goes up, you will get push notifications to avail loans.

3. Credit Card Culture

Credit card culture is another reason for the rat race. It is a symbol of status. Further, you might have come across people who have a dozen credit cards. They use it as if they are debit cards. A few incentives, cashback offers, low maintenance cost lure the younger generation to take the benefit. The cashless transactions are an added benefit.

4. Social Media Addiction

Social Media is part and parcel of our life. We are addicted to it. People take the benefit of social media to show what they are not. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat are some of the top social media platforms that paints a glamorous picture of the other world. The younger generation who spends a significant part of their daily life on these platforms becomes its victim.

5. The Impact of Movies

Movies depict a picture of society and vice-versa. A two to three hours of a film touches our hearts more than anything. The foreign locations, the costumes, the glamor, the lifestyle, the drinks, the bars, the cars, the muscles, everything creates magic in our mind and heart, and we try to imitate that in real life. Just watch the ‘Dhoom’ sequels and observe your thinking pattern.

6. The Television

A humble beginning as a medium of communication, the Television has changed a lot over a few decades. The daily Soap Operas, reality shows, fashion shows, and even traditional news have become fashionable things. Further, it is difficult to escape the Advertisements that are primarily targeted to the middle-class people to buy something that they don’t need.

7. Instant Gratification

Instant gratification means fulfilling your wants instantly. People who are victims of instant gratification do not believe in delaying or postponing their purchases. They find a reason to justify their investments. It shows a lack of patience on their part. Most people, irrespective of their age, are victims of the instant gratification culture.

8. Depend Primarily on Active Income

Most of us depend primarily on active income or single income. Active income means the income that we get when we work to earn it. It needs our active participation. Further, depending on a single income is also not a good idea. Today, jobs are not as secure as it used to be.

9. Financial Illiteracy

Financial illiteracy plays an essential role in personal money management. However, across the globe, only a handful of people are financially literate. Being financially literate never means that the person will not be a part of the race. However, chances are low.

10. Showing Off Nature

Showing off nature means you try to show what you are not. Most people remain poor in life as they try to imitate the lifestyle of the rich. Their focus remains not to earn like the rich, but to spend like them. Thus, they become debt trapped in no time. Further, to repay the loans, they work harder to get more money and be able to spend it again.
The reasons mentioned above may not be the only reasons that propel us to the rat race. You might have found a few more. Do share with me, please by commenting below.

The ways to stop it

Here are a few steps you can take to stop yourself from getting into the rat race. You can also use the ways to exit it. However, I believe prevention is better than cure.

1. Understanding your child

Every child is unique and specializes in a particular field. As a parent, you should find out the potential of your child and work on it. You have to admit that your child cannot be an all-rounder. That way, you can favor yourself and your child and not put extra pressure. Teach your child to participate in extracurricular activities to improve his essential life skills and high self-esteem. However, don’t expect your child to be a champion in every event. This way, you can discourage your child from entering into that highly competitive world, but a world of co-operation and high morale. These small changes at your level will help him or her to develop the right attitude towards his fellow beings and prevent him from entering that vicious cycle of the rat race.

2. Maintain a safe distance from debt

Our previous generation was well aware of the demerits of debt. They were reluctant to use it in smaller possible ways. However, things have changed over a few decades, and we equip ourselves with credit cards, EMIs, home loans, student loans, personal loans, auto loans, etc. that we have not heard before. Maintaining a safe distance from such traps is the best option to prevent yourself from not entering the rat race. However, debt is not at all a bad idea. A few people use it efficiently to step up the ladder of success. It needs a lot of knowledge, expertise, patience, and other positive attitudes to redirect it in the right direction. Everyone cannot do it. Therefore, it is better to stay away from it.

3. Learn how to use media in a right way

Media here includes Social Media, Television, Movies as well as Print Media. They are mega-influencers. Try to understand the motives behind them. To say frankly, they sell you something: one or other ways. They arouse the consumer mindset within us. You must understand that the background is not as glamourous as it looks at the camera. There are thousands of financial stress, emotional issues, mental issues, and broken relationship that never comes to us. However, their real-life paints a different picture from their reel life. You must utilize your valuable time in the proper way so that you can create value. Further, you can also use the Media on your side to reap the maximum benefits from it. You have to see it from a different perspective and find out how to use it on your side.

4. Delayed gratification

Delayed gratification is just the opposite of instant gratification. Instant gratification is to fulfill your wants instantly, and delayed gratification is delaying those wants and taking control of your negative emotions. It is more challenging to execute than recommend. Once you get the money, it tempts you to reward yourself irrespective of your actual requirements. However, to resist the temptation is not a child’s play. It requires a lot of knowledge, patience, focus, persistence, and a whole lot of right approaches towards money that may come to your rescue. Delayed gratification should be cultured at an early stage of your life. The earlier you learn it, the better.

5. Find a second source of Income

Most people find it challenging to start a second source of income. Thus, they depend on a single source of income, and that may be one of the biggest reasons that they are a part of the rat race. However, that second source of income needs to be a passive income or a part-time job, preferably. Today, you can generate a lot of money sitting right in the comfort of your home. You can start a YouTube channel, do affiliate marketing, put your photographs on the web, edit videos, write an ebook, provide online tuition, etc. The list goes on. In most cases, you have to put a little effort at the beginning, but once you get recognized, your income never ends. However, you have to acquire the necessary skills to get into the track.

6. Follow the priciple of simple living and high thinking

Human wants are unlimited. Once we satisfy one want, another pops up. The golden principle of simple living and high thinking says to limit our wants or desires and think about the abundances that God has showered on us. However, it is hard to implement correctly. It is just like deceiving our sense organs. Can you imagine that a lot of people who belong to the super-rich category follow the principle? The examples are Warren Buffet, Mark Zukerberg, Ajim Premji, to name a few. For example, Warren Buffet lives in the 62-year-old home that he had bought for $ 31,500. Mark Zukerberg appears with a T-shirt. Like that, Ajim Premji takes a rickshaw to the airport. Isn’t it enough to learn from these people and simplify our livings?

7. Motivate yourself to take financial education

Learning financial basics will empower you to see the world of money from a different perspective. According to a global survey, 76% of Indians don’t understand the basic financial concepts. In other words, only 24% of Indians are aware of it. It never means that you have to take a course on finance right now. It is just the basics. You can go to an advanced level, but that is an added advantage; not a requirement. Thus, understanding inflation, power of compounding, budgeting, insurance, investment options, etc. will not only help you to take to the next level but also save you from misselling. Don’t worry. I will cover everything that you need to learn to empower yourself in personal finance in simple terms.

What is the rat race? – a closing thought

The rat race is a race for power and money. However, we can or cannot be a part of it. It depends on a lot of factors that we have already discussed. Thus, understanding its causes and implementing the ways to prevent it from your life can help you to keep it at bay. Money is an illusion. It lures you and tries to master you. Therefore, the money will master you if you don’t know the ways to master it. Most importantly, it is up to you to decide your role in life concerning money. In conclusion, I would like to share a verse with you, written by Dave Draper.

A bill that’s left unpaid
A visit that has to be made
The clock upon the wall shows that time
Like sand will fall
That you always must be on the ball
If you want to stay in pace within the race
The rats must grind their teeth regularly
To keep them sharp
But you can sit alone
And play your golden harp

The problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.

LILY TOMLIN

I hope you find this lesson on the topic of the rat race exciting. Hence, I request you to share it with your loved ones. I also invite you to share your views, opinions, thoughts, and experience with me.

Thanks and regards,

finguru@finlessons.com

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