Thursday, December 22, 2005

Booknote: The Art of Happiness at Work

Title: The Art of Happiness at Work
Authors: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
Publication Information: New York: Riverhead Books, 2003
ISBN: 1-57322-261-5
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenres: Philosophy, religion, self-help (not as sure of this label, but I can see it placed on that category).

This is one of the easiest and best books I have read this year, and it is a book that I will likely reread over time. In this book, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Cutler discuss how can workers be happy at work. As readers may know, we spend a large part of our lives at work in one form or another. So it makes sense then to discuss this topic. Dr. Cutler asks various questions to the Dalai Lama, and the sage provides the answers in a relaxed and nurturing way. The book is written in a mostly conversational style drawing on a series of meetings between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Cutler. In addition, Dr. Cutler brings in information about research in psychology and related fields about issues of happiness and work, which add to the conversation. More often than not, the research confirms what the Dalai Lama says.

The opening question for the Dalai Lama was what do you do for a living? When the Dalai Lama thinks a moment, then answers, "I do nothing," it helps to get the conversation going. As we read the book, we discover how that answer is very true. In the process, we learn how to look at our lives, how to reflect on what we do, and how to aim at being productive while serving others. As a reader, the book helped me put a few things in perspective, and it gave me a lot to think about. It also reassured me that things are not so bad. I don't know if for others that last remark makes sense, but I may have to simply tell readers to take a chance on the book. I am not sure if I could answer that I do nothing, at least not yet, but it would be nice to aim towards that, a day at a time. I highly recommend this book. It is very accessible, easy to read, relaxing even, and you might learn a thing or two about yourself. It may put you on the path to seeking happiness, or maybe seeing you are closer to it than you think.

As a note, this book is sort of a sequel to the book The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, which focuses more on the individual and his/her personal development and quest for happiness. Readers of this book will then be interested in The Art of Happiness at Work. Readers like me who have not read the first book will likely want to find a copy. I know I will. There's no need to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

Similar reads: In terms of the "feel," similar style of writing includes the works of Robert Fulghum, some of Paulo Coehlo's works. Fulghum is more into the feel-good stories in my view, but the style of writing is similar. Coehlo also addresses how the individual can grow and seek happiness, which is why I would recommend it to someone wanting similar works. In addition, readers may be interested in some basic works on Buddhism.

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