Corey Ciocchetti: Chasing Fake Rabbits

“Every morning when you wake up, are you happy with your life?”

Of course we would all like our answer to be yes. However, many of us if asked would probably say no, if answering honestly.

Corey Ciocchetti asks this question to people every time he speaks. From lawyer to University of Denver ethics professor to inspirational speaker, Ciocchetti travels around the country speaking to people about how to live a life not full of wealth and success, but of contentment. His most popular speech “Inspire Integrity: Chasing an Authentic Life” has gained momentum, especially at college campuses.

Photo Credits: Corey Ciocchetti

This past week, the UC Davis Panhellenic Council invited Professor Ciocchetti to campus to speak to the women of the Panhellenic community about how to set priorities that will lead to a more fulfilling life - maybe not in monetary wealth, but in something much more valuable: happiness. Although this was a mandatory event on a weekend, attending this speech was one of the most important things I did this quarter.

As a senior ready to graduate, I've been facing the question I've been avoiding for the past couple years: "What do you want to do with your life?" The stress I've experienced in the past couple months has been at times unbearable, but it was a different stress than I was used to. No longer was I so worried about deadlines as I was about where I was going in my life. Will I be successful? Will I be happy? Will I make the wrong decision? When Professor Ciocchetti started addressing these questions head on, it hit home for me.

Professor Ciocchetti set off on his academic career with the intention of receiving an education that would get him a high paying job, which ultimately led to law school and eventually a position in a corporate law firm. The only problemwas… he didn't want to be a lawyer. This became even more evident six months into his first legal position. Realizing that he, and everyone around him, was miserable, he decided to quit on his one year anniversary at the firm.

In our society, we are constantly told that if you go to school and work hard, you will make money and be happy; it’s the American way. Ciocchetti referenced this common way of thinking and called bullshit, because at his law firm, there were people working 80-hour weeks, making millions of dollars, yet they were miserable. To summarize this concept he used a metaphor of a dog:

Once there was a racing dog that had been racing for its entire life. He made tens of thousands of dollars for his owner, and won dozens of medals. However, the night before a big race, the dog told his owner that he wasn’' going to race anymore. Confused, the owner asked if he was sick or hurt, but the dog said that he felt as healthy as ever. So the owner asked why, then, he wouldn’t race. The dog replied: I realized the rabbits you have me chase around the track are fake.  

Just like the dog, we are chasing fake rabbits. We are all chasing after happiness, but so many of us are running the wrong race.

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Although Ciocchetti agrees that working hard in school and a career are extremely important, commenting on how he would be nowhere without his education, he also argues that there are some things in life that hold more weight in our ultimate happiness. And he suggests that the things at the top of the list should be human relationships. Ciocchetti suggests that if you walk out of this life with three genuine, compassionate, and true friendships, you’ve won.

But in addition to human relationships, to live a full life day by day, we need to do these three things: think everyday, laugh everyday (at yourself), and get chills (the good kind) about something everyday.

You can decide whether you believe any of this, but there is validity in the skewed way that we measure success in our society. Money makes the world go round, and work gets us money, and education gets us work, but what is the ultimate cost of that paycheck? Mental health? Relationships? Self-fulfillment?

Walking out of that lecture hall on Sunday evening, Corey Ciocchetti didn’t leave me with any better sense as to what my career path should be after graduation, but he did remind me that life is more than what you do; it’s also about who you are.

So ask yourself: do you wake up happy with your life everyday? Or are you chasing fake rabbits?

Watch a video of Corey Ciocchetti’s talk here. Or visit his website for more information.

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