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Happiness at work as an art

For a follow-up to the New York Times bestseller “The Art of Happiness,” the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler teamed up in hopes of enlightening a Western audience on how to achieve happiness – at work.

“The Art of Happiness at Work” is a slimmer volume than its predecessor – not so much because finding joy at work is that much simpler than overall peace of mind, but rather, because the Dalai Lama and Cutler focus their conversations on work issues, including making money, balancing boredom and challenge and clearly seeing career versus calling, work and identity, coworkers and so on.

Cutler seems to be searching for one key idea or “cure” that will fix a frustrated mass of workers. While Cutler frequently cites related studies about work and happiness, the Dalai Lama consistently reminds Cutler, “Of course it will vary from individual how one emotionally and psychologically responds … So there are many factors to take into account.”



Bottom line: There really is no easy answer.

Often times, the Dalai Lama seems confused by the complaints common to our society, asking Cutler, “What is this “work overload,’ what do you mean?” After a lengthy explanation, the Dalai Lama’s answer is shockingly simple, “And if a boss gives more work to do and it is beyond their capacity, then I think they have to say something. They have to say “This is too much work for me’ and talk to the boss and try to reduce it.”



Can you really do that?

No radical, revolutionary ideas here, at least not if you are looking for a quick fix. The ideas explored aren’t new. They’re simply: Be honest, be a good human, work isn’t everything, you are going to make mistakes, take care of yourself.

But, then again, in terms of work, maybe these are radical ideas.

The core conversation that runs throughout the book is the Dalai Lama’s direct assertion that he does not work. Asked how he would describe what he does for a living he replied, “Nothing. I do nothing.” Work is his life, and life is his work – and not in a martyr fashion.

The real beauty is that, indeed, the Dalai Lama is happy.


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