Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tough day at work?

Howard Cutler interviewed the Dalai Lama over a period of three years about the art of happiness at work - this book is the distillation of those conversations.   

I half-expected very theoretical, intangible discussions that would be difficult to apply in a work setting, but there is an abundance of practical philosophy that can be quickly applied to improve the quality of a sucky work day. Apparently, even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has days like that every once in awhile (okay, maybe he doesn't use quite those words to describe the situation).
The audio book, The Art of Happiness at Work, brings the conversations to life.  In the version I'm listening to, Howard Cutler reads the text, with words spoken by the the Dalai Lama re-enacted by B.D. Wong.  Over the six hours of audio, you get a real flavour of the compassion and insight the Dalai Lama has to offer; balanced by the questions and Western perspective brought by the psychiatrist.  In a way I feel I am eavesdropping on the real thing.

According to the Dalai Lama, (and supported in recent findings by 'modern' psychiatric/scientific research) our motivation for working determines our level of satisfaction. The book explores these three levels of focus:
Survival: focus on salary, stability, food and clothing
Career: focus on advancement
Calling: focus on work as a higher purpose 
Guess which one brings the most sustained happiness?

Cutler reminisces about one of his first jobs, loading boxes of orange juice from a conveyor belt into the back of a truck.  Repetitive, not very interesting work. One of his co-workers is quick to vocalize "this job sucks."  The other loads boxes, imagining one case is headed for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the other to a thirsty patient in a hospital.  Point taken.

You can actually "check it out" online for free at this library site (but you'll need an Ontario library card).

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