Going Nowhere Fast

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Dr. Melvyn Kinder suggests that Americans are suffering from the 1980’s philosophy that said people should work as hard as they can to achieve their goals, despite the cost to themselves or society. He calls this the “treadmill mentality,” and explains that it occurs when people seek happiness through outward success and achievements, instead of within themselves. Ironically, when they pursue goals at the expense of their peace of mind, they become miserable instead of joyous.

Kinder describes seven areas of life that are often plagued by the treadmill mentality. Those on the “Ambition Treadmill” and the “Money Treadmill” strive to get better jobs to gain prestige and make more income. People caught on the “Singles” and “Sexuality” treadmills seek fulfillment through romance and dating. The “Appearance Treadmill” is for those who can never be thin or beautiful enough. The “Marriage Treadmill” afflicts those who demand that their mate make them happy. And finally, the “Parenting Treadmill” concerns those who drive their children crazy with unrealistic expectations.

Many people resist abandoning their quests for success because they don’t want to be perceived as quitters or losers. Kinder offers them reassurance, saying that real change can only occur after one accepts one’s imperfections.

This is the first self-help book for the ’90’s, and it should be helpful to anyone who feels burnt-out and disillusioned after the Reagan era. Kinder’s call to self-acceptance is simple, but it might be the key to the happiness that so many seek.