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Creative Career Path

All Work and No Play ?2012.04.16


    It is increasingly evident that not only does all work and no play make Jack a dull boy, it can also shorten his life.


    Brian Fung wrote an article in The Atlantic Monthly with the point blank title, “Is Your Job Killing You?” This is not just a question for people who work in high risk jobs. It is a question aimed at the increasing numbers of sedentary workers. The article raises the point that longer work weeks are linked to increased stress and unhealthy behavior. That in itself is not surprising. What is alarming is the evidence from an Australian study focusing on adults aged 45 and over, that prolonged sitting particularly past the 8-hour mark, has a strongly detrimental effect on health, increasing the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.


    It is bad enough that many jobs require people to spend most of the day sitting in front of a computer, but many of these same people compound the problem by also spending their leisure time sitting down in front of the television, or again in front of the computer. It is a vicious cycle from cubicle occupant, to couch potato, to human barnacle.


    We looked at the relationship between a sedentary lifestyle and depression in an earlier article in this series, Getting on Your Feet, proposing the power of walking, and its rewards in renewal, health, creativity, and inspiration.


    There is another important thing that can turn the situation around. Take a more playful attitude toward work, and work harder at play.


    Stuart L. Brown and Christopher C. Vaughan made a study of this in their book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Stuart Brown is a physician, psychiatrist, clinical researcher, and founder of the National Institute for Play, who concludes that play is a biological necessity, as important as sleep and nutrition. The authors go as far as to suggest that play is the most important factor in determining both happiness and success in life.


    Play comes in many forms. It can be as fun as a frolicking dog, as silly as a play on words, or as intense as a musical performance, but it is done for fun and not for the sake of something else.

    “Laughter is the best medicine” is an old proverb, but doctors and health researchers are now discovering how true this is at the cellular level, and are promoting humor and laughter for physical, mental, and social health. Harvard Health Publications in cooperation with published an excellent article called Laughter is the Best Medicine: the Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter. Read it online at


    A great way to engage in play throughout your life is to have one or more passions that take you out of yourself through relaxing and creative work. In Japanese the character for this kind of passion is 趣味 (shumi), composed of the radicals for 走 (run) + 取 (take), and 味 (taste). Run, take hold, and taste it! This is how you should feel about your passions.


    If you study an art or a craft, you will enjoy being exposed to beauty and balance every day. You will return to your senses, and forget the stressful side of life. The point is to get up and move about 巡 (meguru), as I painted here on a charcoal egg, itself a symbol of rolling about. Calligraphy is my personal passion.


    All work and no play? Out of the question!



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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