April 16, 2021


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Finding the Zest in Living

At one Japanese chalk-making company, disabled workers make up about 70%of all the workers. Despite making the travel to work on packed trains during rush hour, if it is found that they are unable to follow the rules for the day, they are forced to go home. However, even under these circumstances, they preferred to be at the factory over their institutions. The CEO of Nihon Rikagaku Industry Co., Ltd. at that time, Yasuhiro Oyama,wondered why this was so. He discovered that it was because they desired to be needed by someone and wanted to make people think they were useful. They are usually the ones to say “Thank you” and it is not easy for them to be given a “Thank you” from others. Following this realization, Oyama believed that if they can find happiness from being praised or achieving something, these people should not simply be helpers. He determined then to change the focus of his company. The focus of its management was now on disabled people. “People, no matter how old they are, want to be of help to someone and feel needed — and I believe that is how one can find happiness at work.”
Just like Oyama, the psychologist Michael Tomasello concurs that the decisive difference between humans and other living creatures is that humans are born with graciousness and a natural willingness to be of help to others. Hideto Yoshioka, doctor and founder of the international medical volunteer organisation Japan Heart, has said before, “No matter how many people you can bring happiness to, if you caused even a single person’s sorrow, you would not be able to erase it.” The young doctors involved in Japan Heart also start out with the thinking that they are helping the needy but eventually begin to realize that they are the ones being aided instead. Yu Tanaka, who has a wealth of NGO activity experience under her belt, also has this to contribute.“If you are surrounded by love or good circumstances, it may not have crossed your mind but it is normal for someone to constantly be searching for his or her place in this world. People want to be told that they play a significant part in others’ lives. If a person were told ‘This is thanks to you’, they would feel significantly happier.” Despite the fact that one does not get paid nor subsidized for their food and travel expenses, Japan Heart has over a 100 youths volunteering in its program. In a mature and brimming up society, only those people who get closest to the point of utilizing their abilities and talents purely for the sake of others would be able to attain the zest for life. If we were to shut the word “money” and its associations away, focus on channelling our energies for the sake of others and only stare at the idea that simply having yourself be present is good enough, then perhaps, we would naturally move towards being a population with the zest to live.
Adapted from the original article in Japanese by Housecom. Read the original here.

Also published on Medium.


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