Finding Happiness at Work
August 29, 2011
Title: The Art of Happiness at Work
By: Dalai Lama XIV
The Art of Happiness at Work (2003) is the second collaboration by His Holiness Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard C. Cutler, an American psychiatrist, following their The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (1988). It focuses on finding happiness at work, a topic touching the lives of the majority of us, who have to work to take care of ourselves and our families.
The Art of Happiness at Work is at once both a spiritual and a practical book. It traces the root of widespread job dissatisfaction by analyzing three types of attitudes: 1) work for money; 2) work as a career ladder; and 3) work as a calling. As Buddhism teaches, everything is relative, and there is no 100% satisfaction in life. Promotions and important jobs do not necessarily bring us more happiness, for there are always better jobs out there with more pay. According to current statistics and studies, the satisfaction drawn from pay increase and promotion lasts no more than a year. By comparison, transforming work into a calling has a much better chance of providing lasting happiness.
The Art of Happiness at Work is applicable to both private and public sectors, even though the book is placed in the private/corporate environ. It teaches us a set of life coping skills to tackle issues like nepotism, communications with your boss/management, and methods to transform negative emotions into inner contentment, to transform challenges into opportunities. To obtain true happiness at work, we need to have a new outlook and spiritual strength to cope inwardly and train our minds peacefully.
Amazon review calls the book “…a modern-day Socratic dialogue in which Cutler asks the Dalai Lama about the difficulties and rewards we might encounter in the workplace.” Through the dialogue, we can acquire a better understanding of many basic concepts, such as karma, universal compassion, personal initiates vs. contentment, contentment vs. complacency, inflated self-image vs. low self-esteem, making money vs. the Buddhist "right livelihood,” and work and personal identity. Because of its unique dialogue format, the audio version narrated by Robert O'Keefe seems to be an even more effective and compassionate way to reach us readers.