Ask the Hamster


We’ve all seen those crazy hamsters running on an exercise wheel going nowhere.  We think to ourselves, “Where does he think he’s going?” Sometimes we may even grin and feel superior.  Doesn’t he know he’s in a cage and only running in circles?

The joke is on us. Think for a minute about the parallels between caged hamsters and human beings.  Hamsters realize they need to exercise and jump into the wheel.  They run without caution going faster and faster. When they’re finished they jump off invigorated.  Humans go to the gym and jump on the treadmill or maybe even stay at home in their cage and work out on a rowing machine.  They work until their stress level is abated and their need for movement is fulfilled…just like hamsters.

I doubt that hamsters spend much time ‘thinking’ about why they run.  Their bodies need it and so off they go.  Humans think plenty about the advantages of exercise.  But they also sometimes think too much about the exertion or not enough about the benefits of exercise and have to plead and bargain with themselves to commit to movement.  That’s me!  Sometimes they refuse to exercise at all.  Score one point for the hamsters.

However, humans take running in circles to dangerous levels in another way.  Too frequently their lives are rushing in frenzied paths from one activity to another.  They go from work, to a gym, to a dinner meeting, to a social commitment.  They go home too tired to relax, but they answer their emails, voice messages and
texts.  They fall into bed and wake up early to begin the exhausting cycle all over again. They find themselves
accepting projects and volunteer responsibilities without ever stopping to ask themselves whether those activities are the best use of their time.

Humans have the ability and intelligence to ask…to question their motives…but too often they don’t. Instead they ask themselves why they don’t have the time to take steps toward their real dream.   Why are they
working so hard and yet feeling unfulfilled and exhausted?  They don’t take the time to ask themselves
important questions.

  • If my life were to end tomorrow will I be satisfied with how I’ve lived?
  • What is my big dream or real mission?
  • What have I left undone?
  • What are my authentic values that my life has failed to reflect so far?
  • How can I arrange my life to be more in alignment with my honest goals?

This is not simply an exercise.  It’s choosing a path for our lives.  If we don’t start now, when?  The human brain weighs between 1,300 and 1,400 grams.  A hamster brain weighs only 1.4 grams.  Are we making the best use of all that extra brain power?  Ouch.  Start now.  What will you do differently?

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