BBC Wales - Word for the Week
1st October 1998
Good morning. Jerome K Jerome writing in Three Men in a Boat commented, “I like work, I could sit and look at it all day long.” And if you like watching other people work, there’s a grandstand seat to be had in Cardiff at the moment, where they’re working round the clock to get the Millennium Stadium ready for next year’s Rugby World Cup. And all this just when the new EU directives have been introduced with possibly far-reaching effects on our working lives.
Whether or not we actually enjoy work, most of us lucky to have employment do enjoy receiving the fruits of our labour at the end of the week or month. And it’s the thought of what we can buy with that pay-cheque which drives us to work longer and harder in the belief that maximum purchasing power is necessary for a happy and comfortable life.
I won’t comment on the social and economic implications of the EU directive. But, I wonder if, on a personal level, it may encourage us to consider what are the priorities in our use of time. Mahatma Gandhi had a theory that no one should work more than five hours a day. He felt that to work any longer would leave insufficient time to meet the need for family relationships, domestic activities, social duties as well as personal care and spirituality.
The Bhagavad-gita, also, recommends that someone who balances work, rest and recreation is more likely to achieve well-being and harmony. But the pressure to acquire all those things promoted as essential to happiness is incessant and contagious. I remember my home as a child – it seems mediaeval in comparison to today’s standards with all the modern gadgets, facilities and opportunities. My children find it hard to imagine how I survived in a home without a colour TV, video, computer, CD player, dishwasher, central heating and so on.
But when I look back at my childhood, it’s not with a feeling of having been deprived. Our pleasure then, as it is now and, indeed, always has been, was in the quality of our relationships. It’s best described by the Hindu term “rasa” which has a plethora of meanings - sweetness, relish, pleasure, but all in the context of the relationships we enjoy with others. I heard it said once that “happiness is feeling close to someone”. So, however the EU directive may affect us, if we can use our time to connect to friends and family and also to come a little closer to God, our week will contain many more hours of happiness.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Word for the Week” on BBC Radio Wales.