Unhealthy Rush in Life
Not a word ought to be said against intense earnestness and unbroken activity in work. Very few people are really overworked—at least few people do more work than they ought to do, although they may do it in such a way as to do harm to themselves. It is the fashion to decry our age, as an age of overwork—and yet no lesson is more needed today than that which teaches the duty and the sacredness of work.
"In the loom of work, each man's soul is built." There is no other such school of life as work. Idleness wastes life piecemeal, and disintegrates its fiber. Only to continual action, is healthy life possible.
Yet, while no word should be spoken against work, there ought to be many and very earnest words spoken against that unhealthy rush which characterizes so much of the life about us. No doubt the consequences to very many lives are ruinous. We see men in middle-life with their bodies wrecked—when they ought to be at their prime. They are broken down and paralyzed, with shattered nerves, or in some other way unfitted for further activity and usefulness.
Minds are wrecked, and the vigorous intellect with all its splendid powers is compelled into quiescence and indolence, if not into lunacy.
Souls, too, are wrecked, lost and ruined forever, in the mad chase for the things of this world.
Yet it is not work which is responsible for these lamentable consequences—but lawless, unnatural, exciting rush.
Men burn the candle at both ends, and they wonder why it burns out so soon. They carry double pressure of steam, and then are astonished that the boiler explodes midway on the rail. They try to live almost without sleep, and then are surprised that their nervous system breaks down. They treat their poor stomachs as if they were made of cement, overloading them, cramming them with all manner of indigestible articles at all sorts of unreasonable hours, and then can not understand why they have dyspepsia and other affiliated troubles. They let themselves become a prey to unhealthy and unnatural excitements, physical and mental—and then think it strange when something goes wrong with their delicate organs.
Very likely with all their exciting rush, they are not doing anything like as much work, year by year, as hundreds of men all around them are doing with far less waste of vitality. It is not work, therefore, that is killing them, but living in reckless disregard of the most simple laws of life and health. It is time that men and women should learn that God has written commandments for their bodies, as well as for their souls, and that one cannot be violated with any greater impunity than the other.
There must be work; work, too, to the fullest capacity of brain and hand. Anything less is unhealthy. But the whole life must be so regulated that it shall be kept always at its best, and thus be ready for its tasks. This is not a physiological treatment of the subject, and therefore no attempt is made to set down the laws of healthy work. Yet there are certain conditions of normal and true living that are really moral and religious in their character and influence.
Very much of the sickness that brings such pain and distress, is preventable. Sickness is unnatural. Universal right living would bring almost universal health. Right living would greatly augment the working power of humanity.
Many men never do anything like their possible best, because they never live according to God's laws. They are always either dull or feverish—and work stupidly and sluggishly, or under unnatural stimulation and excitement.
One of the first essentials of healthy life and work, is absolute and unvarying regularity in everything—in meals, in retiring, in rising, in exercise, in work itself and in all habits.
Another essential is abundance of refreshing sleep. Many iron constitutions break at middle life, for lack of an hour more of sleep every day.
Another essential is kind treatment of the stomach. The way men and women everywhere abuse this poor, patient organ, is one of the saddest things is our modern life.
Another essential in healthy work, is peace in the heart. It is worry, not work, that kills. Peaceful work, work without fret or anxiety, can scarcely be too hard. It is when men carry their affairs home in their brain and get only restless, feverish sleep—that their work breaks them down. Perfect peace is health. We should do our best always, in every task or duty, and then leave the result in God's hands.
Wholesome work needs sincere religion. Work that we pray about before we begin it, and which is shot through with thoughts of prayer as we go on—is not the work that kills. We must get little oases of green into all our dusty paths, and bits of blue sky into our daily outlook. We need love—human love, then divine love, to warm and bless our lives. We need "silent times" in our noisy days, when we can look into God's face and lie down in the green pastures to rest and gather strength. We need Sundays well kept, and happy evening hours with our friends. We need joy and sincere humor. The path to a happy, healthy, honored and fruitful old age—is the path of work according to all God's commandments and laws.