Thursday, February 19, 2009

Karoshi and Arbejdsglaede

No, Karoshi and Arbejdsglaede are not a comedy team from Outer Pigsnort, Afghanistan.

In the late ‘80s a Japanese businessman died of what seemed like a heart attack. The cause of death on the certificate, though, was “Karoshi.” It means, “death by overwork.” During the last two decades quite a few Japanese have died of Karoshi.

In Finland, the word “Arbejdsglaede” means “joyful life of work,” or something close. The word is pronounced, “AR-bites-glue”…some folks say no one but a Finlander can really say it. But, hey, they eat reindeer so I’m not really sure how much we can believe from a society that makes dinner out of Rudolph…but that’s another story.

Anyway, the two words show very different attitudes about work. I’d just as soon not work myself to death. In fact, I’d really rather not live in a society in which that is seen as an honorable death. Seems way too serious, I guess.

I like the idea of a “joyful life of work.” To me it means that I’m doing something I enjoy and something that matters.

In tight times a lot of folks hunker down, fearful of the possibility of losing what little they have. I certainly understand that. But, I believe that the silver lining of the cloud we seem to be under is going to be that we will look deeper inside ourselves and find what is really important to us; what brings us a sense of joy. And it won’t be more hours at work, and it won’t be anything we can acquire with an American Express card.

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