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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Most of us spend a third of our adult lives at work, and for many it is not much fun. It becomes something that we do to pay the bills, rather than being a fulfilling activity in which we can be fully engaged. Even for people in the professions that require a lot of thinking, work often becomes a bit of a hindbrain activity that people can do in their sleep.

For the last three decades I have been asking three questions:
"Why do so many people sleep walk through life?"
"Would they thank us if they woke up?" and
"What could we do to help them wake up?"

The author of this important book helps provide some answers. He founded Awake at Work Associates, a consultancy that specializes in helping organizations and individuals apply mindfulness awareness in the workplace, to help both recover balance and well-being in work. Michael Carroll is both a practicing Buddhist who is an authorized teacher in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and has over two decades experience in human resources in several large companies. He teaches mindfulness meditation at the Omega Institute, New York Open Center, and the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.

Michael encourages us to explore our relationships to work and his book is full of practical and uplifting suggestions that are grounded in his work in meditation.

One good example is this: he points out that if we are going to be awake at work, we need to understand how we fell asleep. In Tibetan Buddhism, meditators study the six confusions or "mindsets that describe how we imprison ourselves at work." He then applies these six confusions in the workplace:
Work as drudgery
Work as war
Work as addiction
Work as entertainment
Work as inconvenience
Work as a problem

As he says, "recognizing that we, not work are imprisoning ourselves is critical if we expect to discover well-being in our livelihoods." So he provides precise ways of "letting go" of the imbalances that work can introduce into our lives by cultivating authenticity and a right code of conduct.

He also describes a practice that he calls "enrichment," that can be used to used to resolve conflicts. The idea is that in an adversarial situation, we should not try to defend our own truth or position, or to find some way in which we can benefit, but to act with good will to produce an outcome that is mutually beneficial. This is more than just trying to find the win/win in a situation: it is a broader concept that goes beyond personal gain to try and find the greater good. This may sound like something easier said than done, but the book contains good advice on how to attain this.

What I particularly like about this book is that it is an exercise in practical spirituality. A spirituality that we visit for an hour or two a week may be fine for some people, but the real value of a spiritual life is that it can be something that can inform all of our actions, from education, to work, sex and politics.

Highly recommended.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was a godsend for me. I read a section of it EVERY morning before I go to work. I've worn out two copies and just ordered more. If your job gets under skin in any way, shape or form, do yourself a large favor and get this. And by the way, you can swap the word "work" with "life" and the wisdom becomes even broader. GREAT BOOK.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
We work most of our lives. Some people have odd jobs throughout life, others work at long steady careers. No matter if you're a dishwasher at a restaurant or a lawyer, this book opens you up to the idea that there are lessons to be learned, from the people you have run-ins with to the tasks you complete throughout the day. I suggest this book to anyone who thinks they're missing their calling. With a new view point, you could very well be exactly where you want!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has been invaluable to me since at the root of the recent slump I've found myself in, is a newfound hatred of my job. Carroll explains in a very engaging way how our own resistance to situations at work creates the stress that leads to depression and unhappiness. He explains the importance of staying out of the "blaming state of mind." I knew I had to get myself together, as I teach for a living, and can't just "zone-out" behind a computer - and as someone with a spiritual bent, traditional therapy and prozac simply wasn't an option. This is one of the books that has been instrumental in getting back on track. Other Buddhist-type books that have also been unbelievably helpful (especially in terms of bringing mindfulness into the workplace as a form of healing):

1. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
2. Buddha in the Classroom; Zen Wisdom to Inspire teachers
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I love this book, have re-read it several times, and have sent dozens of people copies--virtually all of whom loved the book. It merits being mandatory reading for anyone with a job in a company with more than one person--whether you just got there and it looks great, can't stand it and are on the verge of leaving, or are someplace in-between.

Why?

How many of us work in companies where the environment isn't as healthy as we want it to be? Yet at the same time, we're often unconscious about these toxicities--maybe even distance ourselves from them or the jobs that create them. We often attribute the job of bettering the work experience to "them"...or maybe even change the environment for our own groups or for the company at large...but in effect treat the people we want to benefit (and ourselves!) as relatively passive participants.

"Awake at Work" sheds a whole new perspective on the workplace experience. NOT just enabling people to see their own role in how they experience work. But giving very specific lenses (35, in fact) on how to change the way work feels FOR US for the better, without the environment having to change one iota. Brilliant! And a very easy, almost poetic read, too. How many books give you a whole new and very positive way to think about and experience a place you spend a lot of your time...can be used in a practical way (e.g., chapter a day)...and are just a good read in the bargain? I found Michael Carroll's "Mindful Leadership" great, too--but "Awake at Work" is entirely unique in my experience of management literature.

The obvious benefit being "Awake" provides: you'll find work a much more pleasant, productive place--if only because you'll be better engaged with what you're doing, no matter how engaged you already are, or how yucky work seems. In addition to that, because you'll be better engaged, you'll probably find some ways to actually improve what's going on around you. And, while most readers will suddenly like their jobs more, others may realized it's time to move on--but will be much more productive in doing so, since a lot of energy lost in complaining and distancing yourself in the job you don't like is more positively directed while you're in it, and finding a new one.

Get this. Read it. Re-read it. Pass it on!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
I've read many Buddhist books and this is really the type of book I was looking for to make sense of what work means and how to deal with it.

One of the big lessons is that work is life - besides being a substantial portion of your life, you are actually living your life when you're at work, so you better do it in a good way for you to enjoy it and learn from the experiences. Also, what happens at work is your opportunity to learn, so in a way your coworkers are your teachers that you can appreciate and learn from. These lessons from this book help me answer the question I ask myself very often in mornings: why do I/should I go to work?

Another big lesson is about mindfulness. In addition to that, but very coupled to it, there is the fact that the reality is "empty" or fleeting. Nothing is permanent, even when they seem to be. With such mindset, you can take the life in a much simpler way. In order to help you with that, this book's recommendation is to practice sitting meditation - it can definitely help you.

As some other reviewers, I've read this book on my way to work, which was definitely the perfect time of the day to absorb some of the lessons and put them in practice right away. I recommend you take these lessons in the same way - if possible every day before going to work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book's title has "...Buddhist Principles...", yet people adhering to any faith (or none) could benefit from the practical advice provided in this book.

This book effectively shepherded me through a very difficult time at the company I recently decided to leave. It helped me retain my composure and think clearly despite the chaos swirling around me... Some of that chaos was of my own creation (which this book also helped me identify) but much of it had nothing to do with me. I was then able to effectively plan my exit... keeping my relationships intact, along with my integrity and dignity. My favorite chapters are "At times of risk and stress, cultivate stillness". Also, "welcome the tyrant" was especially helpful... reminding us that challenge and difficulties are an opportunity for growth.

During a time where many people are living in fear due to the economy and taking it out on their co-workers, families, and friends, it is even more important that we find a way not to contribute to the mess, if at all possible. This book can help you keep your balance during trying times and find the small pleasures at work often staring you right in the face. I only wish I'd found it years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Fantastic book with a wonderful approach to the stresses of work. I have been reading one slogan every weekday after my meditation practice and then sharing the slogan with a few co-workers who also practice meditation. We have really been enjoying the process of moving through the book and seeing how it impacts our experience. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Reading this book is like 'old home week', where the author has skillfully woven Buddhist principles into the everyday Western work environment...easily read and accessible, and infinitely practical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Struggling with work doesn't have to be the norm. This book shows you how to find peace with what you are doing and shows you how to be active in choosing to be present in your day-to-day life.
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