NO MATTER how successful we become in our artistic endeavors—accumulating patrons, followers, popularity, and financial wealth—if our health deteriorates, we find ourselves at a cliff. The significance of good health extends beyond the realm of art; it covers every facet of our lives. As the saying goes, “What’s the use of the grass when the horse is dead?”
Many individuals, driven by ambition, invest time and sacrifice their health to pursue their dreams. While there is nothing inherently wrong with chasing one’s aspirations—in fact, it is commendable—excessive dedication, leading to sleep deprivation, skipped meals, or reliance on fast food due to a fear of wasting time, can result in detrimental consequences. This path may inadvertently turn us into workaholics, resembling the intense work culture prevalent among many Japanese workers. Although appearing commendable in the short term, the long-term consequences are potentially fatal.
Consider the staggering working hours in Japan, where a recent government study revealed that nearly a quarter of Japanese workers logged over 80-90 hours of overtime per month, equivalent to around 12.5 work hours a day for a 5-day work week. This extreme dedication leaves workers so exhausted that some find themselves sleeping on sidewalks or benches, unable to make it home. In contrast, the Philippines maintains an average of 8 hours a day over a 5 or 6-day work week, inclusive of activities like browsing Facebook.
While the regular working hours may align (from 9 am to 5 pm), Japanese workers often extend beyond these hours due to a cultural expectation of extreme work manners. Leaving work ahead of others, even after office hours, is considered impolite, especially in jobs that are not well-compensated by Japanese standards. This cultural norm has consequences, with 1 out of 5 Japanese workers at risk of death from heart-related illnesses—be it stroke, heart attack, or overwork-induced suicide, referred to as “Karoshi.”
Balancing hard work with smart work is paramount. Our endeavors should not only focus on enhancing our artistic skills but also prioritize the well-being of the mind and body that give life to our art. Personal experiences, such as enduring backaches during the initial stages of an art career, highlight the importance of maintaining a mindful balance between work and rest.
Adopting a conscious approach to diet, choosing nutritious options, and incorporating regular, gentle exercise, like walking, contribute to overall well-being. Taking breaks, such as engaging in brief meditation intervals during extended painting sessions, serves as both a mental and physical respite. Dedication to a day of complete rest each week, devoted to church and family, further underscores the necessity of balance.
To the young individuals navigating their paths, a gentle reminder: success cannot be hurried. Instead, offer the best of what you have, both to your pursuits and to your physical and mental health. In due time, complete success will manifest.
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