Choices & A Train Ride

It was peak hour.

People were rushing back from work wearing formal office attire and carrying suitcases, they quickly pulled out their phones from their pockets once they entered the train to entertain themselves of what I assumed would be a long ride home. Some had their ears plugged in with earphones drowning out the last few hours of the day with music of their choice while others were busy chatting on the phone finishing up the last of their work for the day. As I stood, watching the movement of people into and out of the car, a thought occurred.

These people chose this life.

I am a huge advocate for living our dreams, for breaking out of the 9-5 work life and to not conform to the norms of society but looking at these people on the train, with their tired faces but glad expressions, it gave me a bit of a surprise.

These people chose this life, the life of working 9-5 and being an average person in an average world. These people chose to work for someone else, doing something that in a perfect world, they would not do. These people chose to answer to a higher management, chose to wait for the weekends and holidays for relaxation and chose to have most of their time taken up by work.

Therefore, it would be unfair for me to say that these people are conforming to society’s norms because they are too lazy to do otherwise, or giving a generalization that these people are doing something that they hate. Instead, the look on the faces on the train showed otherwise. Even though they could have done something else instead of being just an employee, they chose not to. They chose to be an employee and they seemed contented with it.

Sometimes happiness comes from simple things, like having a job, raising a family, or coming home to see your children happy. Some people might not have the interest in owning a big company, being a celebrity or just being really wealthy. Instead, they would rather have a quiet and peaceful life where whatever they ever need is there. So, are they then not successful?

The definition of success is unique to each individual. You do not need to own a multi-billion dollar business nor have a tech empire to be considered successful, instead, each individual set their own criteria on what it means to be. Some want to be rich, while others, just want to work on a farm on the outskirts of society. Therefore, it is not right for someone to impose their idea of success and deemed others a failure.

Sigmund Freud once introduced the idea of the Pleasure Principle which inclines everyone towards easy physical and emotional rewards. Those people on the train had that look of contentment on their face. They were happy with how their lives are panning out and I’m sure some are even enjoying the work that they are doing. Those people are acting based on the Pleasure Principle where they are able to achieve a monthly salary (physical), and job security (emotional).

Therefore, it surprised me how you do not need to achieve something wonderous like building an empire or owning a big house (though that would still be good) to be successful. As long as the choices you make are in your own best interest, it is enough.

So, as the train slowly came to a stop at my station, I alighted with a whole new perspective on life. It was not a wasted train ride after all.