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A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do Paperback – January 6, 2009
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Praise for A Life’s Work
“Over the years, Thomas Moore has taught us how to discover the holiness concealed in the ordinary. In this very useful book, he shows us how to search for the sacred dimension of our work and find our life’s meaning in the process.”
—HAROLD KUSHNER, author of WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
“Forget about the color of your parachute, here is a book that teaches you how to fly. Through ancient parable, contemporary therapy, personal vignette, and, above all, an uncommon sapience, Moore deftly guides through life’s greatest quandary: Why have I been created? Give this book to yourself.”
—Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of Kabbalah: A Love Story
And Praise for Care of the Soul
“From time to time, I’ve been jolted by an extraordinary book that stops my world. It forces me to look at reality in a different way—a more expansive and meaningful way. It has provided a missing piece for me.”
—John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming
“The sincerity, intelligence, and style—so beautifully clean—of Tom Moore’s Care of the Soul truly moved me. The book’s got strength and class and soul, and I suspect may last longer than psychology itself.”
—James Hillman, author of Re-Visioning Psychology
“The book just may help you give up the futile quest for salvation and get down to the possible task of taking care of your soul. A modest, and therefore marvelous, book about the life of the spirit.”
—Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly
“Thoughtful, eloquent, inspiring.”
—Alix Madrigal, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Thomas Moore is the author of Care of the Soul, which spent forty-six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and fifteen other books on deepening spirituality and cultivating the soul in every aspect of life. He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist, and today he lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and ecology. He also writes fiction and music and often works with his wife, artist and yoga instructor Joan Hanley. He writes regular columns for Resurgence, Spirituality & Health, and Beliefnet.com. He has two children and lives in New England.
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Moore opens with a brief look at the frustration and disillusionment many people feel with their current careers before describing the challenge and reward of embarking on this quest to find the calling of one’s life. He discusses the soul and spirit of work as understanding the depth of oneself. “Deep,” he says, “is perhaps the best word to describe the experience of the soul…. Soul is there in the most ordinary circumstances of life, but it is their mystery and their depth” (30). From there, Moore challenges readers to confront the pains of their past and use them as a tool to acknowledge the root of what motivates them and stirs their passions. The final chapters of the book address the need for self-care, ways to deal with struggles as they arise, the importance of loving one’s work in spite of (and sometimes because of) those struggles, and the benefit of developing a well-rounded, multifaceted life as a complement to one’s work.
Moore has a graceful style that draws upon the deep recesses of spirituality within us all. His poetic tone, in partnership with his continual analogical references to the alchemy process, creates a mystical sense of profundity within the text. Readers who long to find meaning in their lives and work will likely resonate with this intense spiritual approach and be compelled to begin their journey to a state of fulfillment. The book skillfully addresses several common misconceptions about what it means to find one’s life work and provides a general direction of how to achieve it.
I had two primary issues with this book: first, it fails to give concrete steps for the reader to take; second, it largely does not apply to me in my particular situation.
As with many texts in the self-help genre, A Life at Work pursues motivational goals more than actionable ones. While the book does give guidance that is helpful in a general sense, the underlying message it communicates is that the reader cannot truly understand themselves - and therefore their life work - without the help of an experienced counselor. Given the intimately personal nature of an individual’s calling, there is certainly a measure of truth to this idea, but it feels contrary to the book’s purpose. On the face of it, Moore seems to have promised a guide to discovering the soul and spirit of meaningful work, but the undercurrent of the text itself indicates that no book can accomplish that promise.
In addition, Moore’s book failed to connect with me because I am already engaged in a career and role in which I find wonderful purpose and meaning. I do not relate to the feeling of being stuck that he describes in the first chapter, so the rest of the book falls flat against my particular life situation. This is not a knock against the book itself - as I mentioned earlier, it probably resonates well with people in that place in their lives - but I could not find an application in my own life for most of Moore’s recommendations.
While I understand the value of the book and its relevancy to the readers for which it was written, I do not fall within Moore’s target audience so the value of the work was, unfortunately, lost on me.