Belfast Telegraph

Rushing through life could be key to success and happiness

By Christina Patterson

You drive," said a friend of mine a few years ago, "just like you live." It wasn't, I think, a compliment. She was saying, I think, as she gripped the seat, the same thing as the car park attendant who used to call me Nigel Mansell.

It isn't, I know, ideal to be still scraping out the leftover froth from your cappuccino when you hear the words 'last call' next to your name on the Tannoy at the airport. It isn't ideal to be sitting on a bus when the radio show you're meant to be on starts in two minutes.

It isn't ideal to be eating your fourth cake of the day because you've got, you know, a deadline, or to be writing at 2am because you've got an appointment you can't miss in the morning, and your copy's due at lunchtime.

It would be much better if you arrived at the airport early and at the radio studios early. But we are what we are. Which is why I like the sound of a new book called Rush.

The book, which has the subtitle 'Why you need and love the rat race', is by a man called Todd Buchholz, who used to be an economic adviser at the White House.

He set out to research a book about people 'chasing success and losing their souls'. But, once he'd started, he changed his mind.

After doing quite a lot of research, he concluded that people chasing success didn't 'lose their souls'. In fact, they had a lovely time, and if we copied them, we would, too.

The happiness experts, and yoga gurus are, he says, wrong. What we need to be happy isn't to downsize, or downshift. It isn't to lie in darkened rooms communing with our chakras. What we need to be happy is to work long hours and keep fighting our way up the corporate ladder.

I don't know very much about corporate ladders. Trying to climb them, or fighting to climb them, sounds tiring, and crowded.

I do know that, when I go to my yoga class, and the teacher's late, and I have to spend five minutes just sitting in the foyer staring at burquinis, I feel that those five minutes, sitting doing nothing, are almost as bad as the deadline I'm trying to avoid.

But I like it when the teacher turns up, and tells us to lie like corpses, and then tells us that if we go into a morgue we'll find that the corpses aren't moving, and then tells us to open our arms, so we're "nicely crucified", and I like it when she says that we should only do what we feel we can cope with.

I like going to yoga, because it's very nice to be told to stop thinking about deadlines and start thinking about your diaphragm and your pelvis. I can see that it would be nice to think about your diaphragm and your pelvis at other times in the week, instead of about Gaddafi, and deficits, and what to cook for dinner.

But I've got a yoga DVD, which I never look at, and a book of yoga poses, which I never open. So I think that what I like about yoga must be that it's an hour-and-a-half in a week.

And I think that what I like about the other 166-and-a-half hours of my week must be that they're not yoga. A lot of those hours are spent staring at a screen.

Quite a few of them are spent feeling sick. When I'm staring at the screen and feeling sick, I sometimes wish I was lying on a sofa, or a beach. But when I'm lying on a sofa, or a beach, what I tend to do is fall asleep. So I think that what I like about the other 166-and-a-half hours of my week must be the stress.

It must be the worrying that you're not going to be able to do something, even though you have to. It must be the making yourself do something that feels difficult when you think you'd rather be doing something that feels easy, and it must be the lying in bed too late, or leaving the house too late, that turns everything into a rush.

This isn't the same kind of stress as when you're worrying about whether you're going to be able to pay the rent. But I'm with Todd and the people who spoke to Todd. While I'm alive, I want to be awake.

Relationships

First there was 'Gay Girl in Damascus', whose reported abduction by the Syrian authorities triggered worldwide alarm, and who turned out to be a big, burly, bearded bloke in Edinburgh called Tom.

Then there was the lesbian and gay news site called LezGetReal, edited by a deaf and dumb lesbian called Paula, who turned out to be a retired construction worker in Dayton, Ohio, called Bill.

Only Tom and Bill can tell us what they got out of their power kick, though it's fair to assume it had something to do with attention they couldn't muster as straight, white males.

But the bigger question, for me, is for a woman called Sandra Bagaria in Canada.

She believed, she says, that she was in a "romantic relationship" with 'Gay Girl in Damascu'. She feels, she says, "betrayed".

Call me old-fashioned; call me, if you like, someone who doesn't really know what a "relationship status" is. But isn't a romance meant to involve someone you've actually met?

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