I’ve had more than one job where I was on my last nerve at just the thought of going to work that day. I knew I wanted to find a new job but since my name wasn’t Rockefeller or Getty, I had to stick with the old one till the new one came along. But once you’ve reached that "I can’t walk into that office one…more…time" phase, most goodwill is deep in the bottom of the recycle bin. Once everyone and everything is annoying, it’s hard to change course.
But since we have no choice to endure while we are there, "The Art of Happiness at Work" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler can help. It came out in 2004 and was a followup to their previous book "The Art of Happiness".
"The Art of Happiness at Work" is all about viewing your colleagues with compassion and remembering their lives are full of tragedies, disappointments, conflicts and all the same back story that you bring to work. Amazon.com’s review of the book says, "For the Dalai Lama, basic human values such as kindness, tolerance, compassion, honesty, and forgiveness are the source of human happiness. Throughout the book, he illustrates with clear examples how bringing those qualities to bear on work-related challenges can help us tolerate or overcome the most thorny situations."
The authors also talk about changing how you view your job — transforming it from a "job" into a "calling". Sometimes, once the honeymoon is over, it’s hard to think of it as a calling, but to the degree that we can, we may as well. It will probably serve us well as we look for the next job to have figured out how to position the current one. The book suggests finding the greater meaning in your work, which can help get you out of the drudgery of the day-to-day frustrations. The authors suggest clarifying your strengths and talents, so you can see them in the context of contributing to the success of the whole endeavor.
It’s a short book — 224 pages — but, honestly, it doesn’t get soaring scores on Amazon (partly because it’s repetitive of "The Art of Happiness"; so if you haven’t read that yet, it’s all new). But I like that the Dalai Lama gives techniques for looking at work — and life — differently. Who can we trust more than him to talk about attitude adjustment?
And one more added benefit — it does seem like a useful tool to help us wax philosophical and insightful in our next interview about the key aspects of a healthy work environment. (Hmm, I wonder if the Dalai Lama would consider that an ulterior motive?)