Mind Article : Run Your Own Race

I previously read an article on something called “The Rat Park“. Its about a group of scientists doing studies about rats and their “lifestyle”. It was a famous study done in 1970 about addiction and its insidious effects.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Overcome-Fear-and-Break-Free-from-Old-Routines#ixzz1ux820iTV

“The term comes from a study conducted in 1981 by psychologist Bruce Alexander and colleagues. He noted that many addiction studies had something in common: The lab rats they used were locked in uncomfortable, isolating cages. Testing a hunch, Alexander gathered two groups of rats. For the first, he built a 200-square-foot rodent paradise called Rat Park. There a colony of white Wister rats found luxurious accommodations for all their favorite pastimes—mingling, mating, raising pups, writing articles for newspaper tabloids. The second group was housed in the traditional cages. 

Alexander offered both groups a choice of plain water or sugar water laced with morphine. Like rats in other studies, the traditionally caged animals became instant addicts. However, the residents of Rat Park tended to “just say no,” avoiding the drug-treated sugar water. Even rats that were already addicted to morphine tended to lay off the hard stuff when in Rat Park. Put them back in their cages, however, and they’d stay stoned as Deadheads.

You probably wont be a happy camper if your brain just functioned in these two areas

This draws a parallel into our lives as well, well maybe mine especially but also  a large portion of the cubicle rats that our society produces known as office workers. We all live in times when we are told to make a living, doing something as mundane and office work and told to stick it out and give our all working late hours to get that “promotion” and “pay raise” as a recognition of our efforts and talent.

It works fine if we are doing something we like and benefiting from it but like most work, we are more like cogs in a cog wheel, easily replaceable and in an competitive environment that forces us to fight hard to gain that promotion competing against others and being thrust in a stressful environment. So like the rats in the experiment, we would then be more susceptible to numbing ourselves (hopefully not with heroine) but other things, like compulsive eating, escapism by watching far to many drama serials, compulsive gaming, gambling, smoking, endless hours of face-booking to see other leading the life you want and other pointless and destructive behaviour so that we can quickly fight that sense of numbness and feeling of being “caged” that we feel at work or failing to see a point in life. Being powerless and doing things because we HAVE to and not because we CHOOSE to.

Are you running a Rat Race or your Own Race

I guess this is the crux of the rat park experiment. Do correct me if I am wrong. But its should not end this way. We all need a productive and open environment. It might not be as the author said

“A paradise called Rat Park. There a colony of white Wister rats found luxurious accommodations for all their favorite pastimes—mingling, mating, raising pups, writing articles for newspaper tabloids”

But it has to have the qualities of what we WANT instead of what we END UP WITH. The truth is that we choose our own destiny, but if we don’t exercise this power, we give up our ability to choose. There is seldom things like no choice or being forced to (which is a choice in itself, you can choose that’s why you can be forced to choose as well, but theres seldom such things as “no choice” there’s another way or there’s a way you can create).

We all have the power to choose. Thereis this phrase that jingles quite true for me, which goes “If you dont choose for yourself, people around you will make that choice for you, and it might be far from what you want”. Well meaning people might want you to follow in certain footsteps that they once were on and think that you should do it too, but they are not you and can never be you. They cant make the best choice for you (for eg, parents). You have to make you own choices and engineer your own jailbreak from a rat race and into an environment that nurtures you, with a body that you want, with people you love and respect and doing things that elevate you as a person and not denigrate yourself.

You should not simply take life at face value and be carried with the tide. Many things that are worth doing are not easy, but it far beats taking the unhappy and easy way out and numbing ourselves silly with consumerism and binge eating or drinking. Take time to build up your body, build up your mind and take some time to listen to yourself, take some time to listen to the soft but steady voice in your head that tells you most likely what you love to be doing, and engineer that escape.

Wikipedia 

rat race is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy to themodern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually.

The rat race is a term often used to describe work, particularly excessive work; in general terms, if one works too much, one is in the rat race. This terminology contains implications that many people see work as a seemingly endless pursuit with little reward or purpose, albeit this is not true for many workers. For example, self-employment contributes to an increase in job satisfaction and the self-employed may experience less job related mental strain.

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2 responses to “Mind Article : Run Your Own Race

  1. Awesome post! Choice is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about too. It is most definitely essential to any change we wish to make. Choice, I think, is also a big factor in taking responsibility for a situation that you don’t like. Ultimately, only you can change it.

    • Thanks lots for your encouraging comments. And i agree we all shouldnt believe in the “no choice” theory, as it really makes us powerless . I enjoy the great work at your blog as well. Keep it up !

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