Excerpt from The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D., plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Art of Happiness at Work

by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D. X
The Art of Happiness at Work by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2003, 224 pages
    Sep 2004, 224 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Well, you know," I said, struggling for words, "where you are overloaded with work, and it becomes a source of stress."

"I still don't know what you mean by this term 'overload.' For example, your boss could give you some work which you could probably finish within a certain amount of time, but that's not overload because it is something you can accomplish, even if it is difficult. Or he could give you an amount of work that is impossible to finish in a certain amount of time, in which case you simply have to say 'I can't do this.' So, what do you mean?"

He wasn't getting it. But I failed to understand why he didn't get it. The concept of work overload isn't some obscure American custom, or even something unique to Western culture. After all, the Japanese have even coined the word karoshi--death by work overload. I decided to frame it in his terms. "Well, let's say you're a young monk and you're studying and practicing Buddhism. So your teacher would be the equivalent of your boss."

"O.K., right." He nodded. "I understand."

"And your job is to learn and memorize certain texts, so let's say your boss gives you a text that you need to memorize by next week. It's a very challenging text. Now, if you work hard, maybe you can memorize it by next week, but it's going to be very difficult. Then he comes back a few hours later and says, 'Well, now you have to memorize an additional text along with this text in the same amount of time.' And he's your boss--you can't just say, 'I'm going to quit, I'm not going to be a monk anymore.' So, work overload in this context means that you are given more and more to do but not enough time to do it."

"Oh, now I think I understand. For example, when I was around twenty, in Tibet, I had to give an important teaching, and for preparation I had homework early morning and late evening. Then I had to get up very early before my attendants arrived and even when my attendants had left, late into the evening I had to read and memorize. So I woke up a few hours earlier and went to bed a few hours later--that is the kind of overload?"


"But then this is something that with extra attention and energy, it's something I could achieve. And that was O.K. for the short term. But if I were to continue with this having less sleep for a long time, having that kind of overload for a whole year, then it would be impossible."

"But that's the kind of thing many people are faced with these days," I informed him.

"So why can't these people say 'I can't do this' right from the beginning?" he asked. "Do they get fired?"

"In many cases, yes."

"In that case I think it goes back to knowing one's limitations. 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. If that doesn't work, then they may need to look for new work.

"However, at that point let's say that the boss agrees to extra pay, and the employee agrees, then that is a person's decision and there's no cause to complain about overload. But if the boss gives too much work without increase of salary, then this 'overload' is just exploitation, the kind that we just spoke about.

"But I think in these kinds of situations, the employer has a responsibility to judge how much a person can reasonably be expected to do. Too much overload is simply a lack of concern, lack of respect. Even overloading an animal is disrespectful to that life--so, that's exploitation, it's unfair," he said with a resolute tone.

"I'm glad that you mentioned the issue of unfairness," I replied, "because that is another of the sources of workplace dissatisfaction. In fact, I think we're touching upon some of the most common sources of dissatisfaction at the workplace.

From The Art of Happiness at Work. Copyright The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Riverhead Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Next Year in Havana
    by Chanel Cleeton

    a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Force of Nature
    by Jane Harper

    A riveting, tension-driven thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

A gripping novel from the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.