“Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. I am that I am sums up the whole truth. All that is required to realize the self is to be still. What could be easier than that?”
From the time we start school at a young age, hard work is praised and we all strive to get there. People will profess that hard work pays and that if you put your all into something the results of your success will be tremendous. So, we spend most of our lives working hard and hoping that one day we will get there. We forget to enjoy the journey, and we forget that the journey constitutes a big part of our happiness and wellbeing.
Think about national exams. Just how hard did you work to pass your exams? You most likely spent all night reading or studied well into the night because you were made to believe that the grades on your certificate would dictate the entire course of your life. The teachers’ favourites were the ones who would spend their nights buried in books, trying to grasp every single concept that was written in these books. “Be like him, he only sleeps four hours a night,” we were told. Many of us admired such students, and we wholeheartedly believed that they would succeed in life. This may be true, but only to a certain extent.
While it is true that hard work may pay, what good is the payment when your mental state becomes compromised? Firstly, I wholeheartedly believe that there is no greater wealth than peace of mind. You could have all the money in the world, but if your heart and soul are not at peace, then you’re probably doing it all wrong. You will not be able to enjoy your life if you’re constantly overworking and overdoing, and forgetting to take a breather to literally just be.
At an 8-5 job that I previously worked for, a workmate advised me to turn off all my email notifications past 5 pm, before 8 am, and over the weekend. That way, you give your mind space to think outside of your occupation. All your work stress will end at 5 pm, and you will have time to work on yourself. Then, the next morning you can pick up the pieces when you are fresh.
It is not hard work, but smart work that pays. As you put in these hours to whatever you do, you need to be wise enough to realize that taking care of yourself is equally as important. Defining success by your financial wealth or by your hard work is as limiting as can be. Make sure that you are also taking care of yourself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. That’s how you become a well-rounded person. That should be the goal.
In a lovely poem by Beatrice Robertson, she describes “The girl who didn’t stop.”
A fear had settled in her bones, a fear of sitting still. That if you’re not moving forward, it must mean you never will. So in time, her dance got slower, and she looked at all she’d seen. But found gaps inside the places that she’d never fully been. For she was a human doing, human moving, human seeing; but she had really never taken the time to be a human being.