Mar 26, 2015

Book Report: Zen and the Art of Making a Living

It I had to choose one nonfiction book that has made the most profound impact on me, both as a person and in regards to what I do, it would be Laurence G. Boldt's Zen and the Art of Making a Living. Over time, I have dipped into the book again and again. It is more than what the title implies...

Though it is presented as a sort of career guide, the book is perhaps the closest thing to a bible I have on my book shelf. It takes into account the spiritual aspects of who we are when considering what we should be doing with our lives. It telescopes out and takes in a very wide-view of life. I consider it an excellent tool for living the examined existence.

The book provides inspiration, practical tools and presents good information in a very accessible way. A bunch of prominent thinkers' ideas show up throughout the book (a lot of Eastern philosophy but also Joseph Campbell, Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and a host of others). Many of these thinkers, whose work could easily be twisted to fit a shallow self-help book, are presented here to anchor several over-arcing themes. 

This book is essentially about finding one's vocation. Since I am a theatre artist primarily, with a secondary career as an educator, I have struggled in the past to reconcile the meaningfulness of the work I do with actually paying the bills.

Zen and the Art of Making a Living encourages the reader to align his or her work with inner values as much as possible and it is written from a spiritual perspective that is generally Eastern, but it does not actually push a particular worldview over any others. In particular, I really found the first portion of the book, with it's explanation of myth and zen, fascinating.

The second part focuses on choosing a career path best suited to one's talents and preferences. It not only covers the cocept of career itself, but whether one is best as self-employed, freelance or working for a company. It also helps with getting interviews and writing resumes. Throughout this section, questions and worksheets are provided so one can work out not only what job to look for, but also what one expects to accomplish when the job is obtained. Extensive resources and guidelines are provided.

The first part is inspirational, the last part is extremely practical.

If you have the discipline to work through this book (and it is long), you will learn a lot about yourself and the type of work that makes you most happy. It will also show you how to take what you most love doing and create opportunities to do more of it.

This is not a "quick-fix" career guide that one can just skim over and find the perfect job. It is a guide for looking within oneself to find the ideal mesh of talent and happiness and finding a job (or creating one) that suits one best.

Highly recommended. Get a copy on Amazon... HERE.

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