Thursday, July 10, 2008

Worked to Death

Those who have been reading my blogs for any length of time know that I take a "work to live, don't live to work" approach to life. Barring the minority of people who have creative, fulfilling jobs they'd do for free if they could afford to, most of us have jobs that are merely a means to an end. That is, we work in order to acquire the resources, i.e. money, we need to live.

For most of us, it is not in our best interests to work any more than necessary to achieve this goal. Indeed, in many cases, our time is more precious than money, and many of us have made the decision to accept a lower standard of living, in order to have the precious time in which to really live and to spend as much time as we can in our time on Earth doing the things that really matter to us.

Recently, I've read several news stories about a Japanese man who lived to work and ultimately ended up literally working himself to death. This man, a 45 year old lead engineer for Toyota, worked an average of 80 hours of overtime a month in the months preceding his death. This involved working nights and weekends, and frequent trips abroad.

The Japenese, well-known throughout the world for their penchant for workaholism, even have a word for overwork induced deaths -- "karoshi".

This man's family sued and a Japanese labor bureau recently ruled in their favor, stating that the man died from overwork. Their ruling will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance. This is but one among many other similar suits.

I'm glad the man's family won their case, but it's a matter of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. It's time to reconsider what role work plays in our lives and what life is all about in general. I'm not singling out the Japanese, as the "live to work" mindset can be found anywhere.

We should work to live, not live to work. Work is a part of life, not the purpose of it. As the old saying goes, no one on their deathbeds ever wished they'd spent more time at the office.


1 comment:

Dee Jay said...

I agree that so many people go absolutely overboard with ridiculous amounts of time being put into their jobs.

I love my job though. My co-workers and I all hang out together, so work is like being with friends. I don't mind extra hours there.

I think it probably depends on the job as well.