Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.
To be part of a society, you need to be socialized. Random House Dictionary defines socialization as “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” Your family members, school teachers, and peer groups were all part of the socialization process. They let you know exactly what your “social position” was and taught you a set of values which helped you fit in with society. The process you went through is not unique to humans: all mammals are social creatures. For example, meerkat young learn by watching and mimicking adult behavior. Adult meerkats also actively teach their pups.
Unfortunately, human socialization has some unintended consequences. One of these is the seeking of external approval and applying of external goals to your life. When submit to completely, external approval and external goals start running your life. If you are to take control of your consciousness and pursue your own goals, you must first learn to break free from your rat racer values.
The Problem: Rat Racer Values
Here are the rat racer values you may want to break free from:
Things- “I want to accumulate more things”: Falsely believing that accumulating more possessions will make you happy. Valuing things over people and experiences.
Status / Approval- “I want to be liked and fit in”: Pursuing a career path that Mom or Dad told you to go after. Working at a job you hate to pay for your family’s high consumption. Not speaking up at work when you have a good idea, for fear of getting shot down. Falsely believing that once you obtain status, people will like and respect you. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Becoming popular with lots of people, but not building close relationships with individuals.
Power- “I want to dominate”: Using others only as a means to achieve your goals. Trying to one-up others, dominate conversations. Constantly pinpointing other people’s weaknesses and failures.
Each individual has their own unique set of rat racer values. Some may accentuate the value of Money, others may accentuate Approval. Some individuals may not have all of these values.
People who submit completely to these social values, and mistakenly believe that their happiness is obtained only by achieving external goals, are rat racers who never enjoy the present moments of life:
Schools, churches, and banks try to turn us into responsible citizens willing to work hard and save . . . merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers to spend our earnings on products that will produce the most profits for them . . . gamblers, pimps, and drug dealers promise rewards for easy dissipation- provided we pay. The messages are very different, but their outcome is essentially the same: they make us dependent on a social system that exploits our energies for its own purposes.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
The Solution: Take Control of Your Consciousness
To break free from rat racer values, you must seek personally-selected goals built from your personal values. Going back to Aristotle’s quote, “Society is something that precedes the individual”, isn’t seeking your own goals selfish? No. Society will actually benefit more from you pursuing your own intrinsic goals. A study done by the University of Rochester’s Human Motivation Research Group found that people whose motivation was “self-authored” exhibited more interest, excitement, and confidence, as well as greater persistence, creativity and performance than a control group who were motivated by external demands and rewards.
Read my free happiness handbook for the full solution:
Evolve Your Life Happiness Handbook
You’ve heard the advice, “Go to school, get a good job, get promoted, climb the corporate ladder, and you will eventually find happiness.” All too often, people follow this society-prescribed path to success, falsely believing that it will lead them to happiness. This mini-book teaches an alternative blueprint for happiness, based on research from numerous books and scientific studies, along with Derek’s personal experience.
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