A 36 year old engineer, father of two beautiful kids, drops dead of a massive heart attack at work in a Toyota plant at 6 am.
Death by overwork, called Karoshi, is an occupational disease extensively studied in Japan. In 2007, about 355 workers fell severely ill or died from overwork, the highest figure on record and 7,6 percent up from the previous year, the ministry of health, welfare and labour of Japan said. Of the total, 147 people died many from strokes or heart attacks.
Studies have shown that working more than 60 hours a week increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and premature death. Studies have further shown that it is the negative emotions associated with work and not the work itself that kills us prematurely. If we associate positive emotions with our work can we reverse these deleterious effects? Can we enhance the health? Can we live forever if we work incessantly with profound faith, unconditional love, and persistent fearlessness?
How can we achieve this? Just telling everyone and yourself that you love your work isn’t enough. I will share a story. My son’s elementary school teacher, Mrs. Roth, a pleasant lady in her thirties, shared with me what my son had tod her. “My dad comes home from work, goes upstairs, and falls asleep.” After the meeting, I went home and gently confronted him. His chubby cheeks fell almost to his shoulders and then he said, “But, that’s what you do daddy!”
It made me think hard. I loved my job, then why should I be coming home with headaches, neck tightness, back pain, and burning stomach? I dug deep and found out that I was constantly worried about missing a diagnosis of early stage lung cancer, a patient bleeding to death after a biopsy, a colleague behaving unprofessionally, declining income, or a loss of independence. Once I realized this, I could replace them with positive emotions; joy, enthusiasm, optimism, faith, and patience. Studies have shown that those who work with happiness, optimism, and emotional self-control do have a lower incidence of coronary artery disease.
Kubzansky and Thurston’s (2007) followed a cohort of 6,025 men and women aged 25–75 years for an average 15 years. Over this period, 1,141 developed Coronary Heart Disease. A measure of ‘‘emotional vitality, an amalgam of vitality (sense of energy and pep), positive well-being (happiness and life satisfaction), and emotional self-control (feeling emotionally stable and secure) was derived from the General Well- Being Schedule (Fazio, 1977). Participants with greater emotional vitality were at markedly reduced risk for CHD, and this effect remained significant after accounting statistically for age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, educational attainment, blood pressure,
cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol use, physical activity level, diabetes, hypertension, and psychological illness.
I urge you to work with energy, enthusiasm, optimism, and happiness. Close your eyes for 10 seconds or so. Dig deep down and find out those occult fears, anxieties, worries, insecurities, and other negative emotions. Replace them with positive ones; optimism, enthusiasm, faith, and fearlessness. If you do that, then you shall reduce the incidence of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and premature death. And if you maintain them all-day at work, you might just live forever!
In conclusion, negative emotions associated with work kill. If you diagnose these negative emotions and then replace them continually with positive emotions, you will reduce the incidence of Coronary Heart disease and better yet, you might just live forever.