Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness on a Hamster Wheel

I have nothing to say. My mother is a fish.

I keep racking my brain about an article to write. I have ideas written on a list, but they just stare back at me and seem inconsequential. The truth is I write mainly to reflect life back to others. I write as a commentator on things that people do and say. Not as a critic or a judge, but as a spectator. However, lately, I have spectated little. That is to say I have been working, writing (things other than this blog obviously), and working some more. There has been little time for drinks, friends, dates or even problems. My life is eventless as of right now, therefore so is my commentary on, well…life. Which actually led me to wonder if other people often times find themselves existing without living, like running without moving forward. If so, can life become a treadmill we never turn off?
I use the term treadmill for good reason. You see life is exhausting, just like running, and oftentimes uncomfortable and a little bit sweaty. Just living can be a chore: cleaning, bank runs, grocery store, work, random errands, relationships, meetings – all the things necessary to keep a life together take time and energy. However, none of them move you forward. These things are not stimulating, satisfying or enriching in any way. They are equivalent to a 7.0 speed, but no distance is actually traveled.  The question is:  what does move us forward? Money. Career advancement. Marriage. Children. Experiences. But at some point, when you reach those milestones, they just become a treadmill again. People who have been married for ten years feel stuck in a rut. People with children feel bogged down by the monotony of their existence. So in reality, you just moved up your speed. You are now operating at 7.5 – putting out more work but once again not moving forward. You work harder, you make more money, go to more dinner parties, take more trips. You’re at 8.2 yet you feel unsatisfied. You’re back on the treadmill running harder, moving faster, now there’s an incline…yet still you stare at the wall and wonder when you can go home. When you can sit down. When will it all feel worth it?  Which led me to my next question on this existential quest: what does “worth it” actually mean?
One word came to mind: happiness. We do all these things to be more happy. Happy is the prize and life is the game. Only, the vehicle we have is a treadmill… so how do we get happy when we’re stuck in one place, sweating our asses off, and some jerk called the future keeps increasing our speed? How does that make up happy?
I figured out that I am happiest when I am with my friends. When I partake in stimulating conversation. When I drink. When I kiss someone cute. When I am making self-deprecating jokes. When I eat a delicious food. When I hear music.  When I travel and learn new things. I realized I am happiest when an emotion is triggered: when I literally feel something other than nothing.
If I can continue my analogy, that means we will never be happy on the treadmill. It’s the moments we get off that make us happy. Grab a towel, a drink of water and take a break. It’s when we jump off the moving beltway and interact with the people and places around us that creates happiness. Thus, in my opinion, it’s not necessarily about moving forward, it’s about finding the unexpected. Finding the fun while surrounded by crazy, neurotic people on treadmills. Because sometimes the best part is getting off, feeling exhausted, not being able to breathe, and thinking, “I did that… time to do something else.”


  1. I hate treadmills of any sort. As with anything I do in life, I walk a real path and enjoy the scenery. I fish. My thought is most people don't do enough of this.