If you had to give yourself a score out of ten for your work and social life, how highly would you rate them? Are they similar? In what can be a hectic modern day life, it is easy to get drawn into a vortex with no time or energy left for fun. The philosopher Alan Watts frequently asked his students: “If money were no object, what would you do?”. Work inevitably takes up the majority of our time, therefore it is important to find a vocation which we enjoy. In an ideal world we could spend time devoted to our favourite passions without worry. However, this is rarely the case and as such, finding the right balance between work and play is challenging.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is defined as a state of balance between Yin and Yang. As such, it is important to find a mixture of activities which stimulate both aspects. A competitive sport would be classed as more Yang whereas meditation would be more Yin. Therefore if we find ourselves spending too much time on activities or jobs which are solely Yin or Yang, a complementary type activity could help bring about greater health benefits. At the very least, it might simply remind us why we enjoy the former activities so much!
The Jar of Life helps illustrate this concept:
A professor fills a jar with golf balls and asks his students if the jar is full. They reply “Yes”. The professor then fills the jar with pebbles and repeats his question. Once again the students reply “Yes”. He then pours sand into the jar, filling every crevice. The students now aware of the task finally answer “No” when asked if the jar is full. The professor agrees and pours beer into the jar until it is completely full.
So what does it mean?
The golf balls represent the important aspects of life such as health, family, friends and favourite hobbies. The pebbles are smaller items such as work, house, car etc… and the sand is everything else. If you fill the jar up with sand and pebbles, there is no space for the important things so you must be sure to set your priorities correctly. Also, even if you take away the sand and pebbles, your life will still be full.
Finally, no matter how busy your life gets, there is always space for a drink with friends!
As Socrates once said “Beware the barrenness of a busy life”.