Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rush - Why You Need and Love the Rat Race

Finally a book that vindicates me. Work is good. Competition is good. Relaxation is not the goal of life. Todd Buchholz wrote Rush - Why You Need and Love the Rat Race.

The book has 3 parts.

Part I explains scientifically why our brains are made for stress, competition and challenge. I like brain research and he covers that the stress reactions are "exciting" in the right part of the brain. We need that to be healthy.

He lays out the research that "being zen" may be overrated. One interesting line "the best way to achieve self esteem is to do something worthy of self esteem"

Part 2 Happiness is Hard Work explains that it is not a natural state to be happy. And he goes on to say that we are actually a lot happier when we work.

It tells of a study done in Austria in the 1930s. The mill had closed and there was no work. People had welfare and were cut off if they were caught busking, chopping wood for someone else etc. People without work did not go to the library and read or enjoy their new leisure. They slowed down and became depressed and lethargic.

This section has a chapter on commerce and competition and how to actually brings us together. I have long believed that commercial ties help prevent war (it is bad business to fight with your customers and suppliers). It also covers that competition makes people sharper.

"Competition not only increases innovation, it decreases violent behavior and increases cooperation"

Part 3 - Learning and Living in the Real World tells it like it is. Buchholz knows we have to live in the real world and understands that there is more to life than just competition. He acknowledges a need for relaxation and enough balance to be able to return to be recharged for competition.

The concluding chapter talks about the best competitor being yourself. Even if it is just learning a new language, learning to paint, reading a stimulating book etc. I know for me, my running is mostly self competition.

Despite being a researched treatise, it is peppered with humorous anecdotes like the old ladies complaining "the food here is terrible - inedible and the portions are so small". And the Woody Allen line "modern business is worse than dog eat dog it is "dog does not return other dog's phone call""

1 Comments:

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Alex Revai said...

I can whole-heartedly agree with your introductory statement: ". Work is good. Competition is good. Relaxation is not the goal of life."

But, that rush and rat-race is what we need, I couldn't disagree any more. I haven't done research on the subject, so I'm only responding from the guts and from experience.

I would like to suggest that work, defined as being productively and meaningfully occupied, is good for us and makes one happy. Work, as in rat-race and rush is a sure way to burn-out, disillusionment, dissatisfaction and deadly stress. It simply cannot lead to happiness.

Not to mention, that rush, as in "haste", makes the proverbial waste and leads to lost productivity.

The Austrian study of the 1930-s simply proves, what I have seen time and again (mostly involving retired people):

Those, who had meaningfully occupied themselves with hobbies, volunteering, productive projects, continuous learning, etc., went on to live for a long time. Those, who just stopped working and became physically and mentally inactive, died quite rapidly.

Yes to meaningful work, however hard it may be. No to senseless rush and rat race!

 

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