Book review: Buddha’s Office: The Ancient Art of Waking Up While Working Well

Buddha’s Office: The Ancient Art of Waking Up While Working Well is an upcoming book by Dan Zigmond (December 3rd, 2019 release date,) that is aimed at anyone who is interested in incorporating some Buddhist philosophy into their work in order to obtain some sanity and happiness. It works fairly well at introducing some well studied techniques to help you work better while being less busy.

It’s a fairly quick read, doesn’t require discarding your religion (not that Buddhism would anyway,) and tells you what you probably already suspect deep down but trying to quantify and justify to yourself you run into a wall of accepted corporate culture that’s somewhat toxic to a work/life balance.

Citation of several studies are included in case the idea that taking a five minute break from work is criminally abhorrent to you. You’ll learn if you don’t already know that busy is not an ideal, productivity is, and productivity is not produced from excessive busyness.

Along with several things that should be taught to any manager and any employee but sadly aren’t, you’ll take a short trip with the author down some of Buddha’s life and teachings combined with the author’s work experiences.

This book reached me 17 years too late. In 2003 as my company was folding, my mother dying, and a bunch of health issues I pretty much trace right back to work, it would have been a godsend. In my life now, at 46 or so, I’ve managed to figure out the fundamentals, although putting a couple of the exercises in the book into practice has been enlightening these past couple of weeks.

Seriously, take a break from work. Don’t check your email. Get away from it. Eat a lunch every now and then without running back to the office. If your mind and body fail because you’re working too hard you can’t replace them. If you fail while working too hard, your work will replace you.

I was my work for a while, that’s when I needed this book the most.

One of the takeaway action items I had from this book was looking at my work and consciously finding what I enjoy about it, labeling what I don’t, and working to once again look forward to coming in in the morning. I’m not sure that’s exactly spelled out as such, but part of the mindfulness and somewhat meditation lead me to that.

It’s been a welcome reminder to consciously enjoy what I can and not just exist through suffering so I can afford to pay to exist through suffering. Or in other words I’m working on reshaping what can be a depressing monotony.

Onto the critiques…

The book is pretty short. The chapters are as well. The pacing at the beginning of the book was interesting and exciting and at the end less so. Whether the first chapters applied more or not near the end I felt a bit unenthusiastic.

The book, for me, bordered on two extremes, which amuses me greatly thinking about it if it was designed that way. I felt I had what I wanted in the first 16 or so chapters and the rest was an attempt to stretch some bullet points to make it thick enough to not look like a pamphlet.

I should note, I did like this. Or more accurately I did like the first third and the middle.

There’s a term I read a long time ago called hysterical floor blindness. This is something kids get when a new animal shows up that they’ve promised to clean up after and love and suddenly the giant piles of dookie on the floor somehow are not seen.

For me the blindness has been what doesn’t make me happy at work, and it’s sort of existed put out of my mind but right in front of me at all times I’m here. That’s one of the things Buddha’s Office helped me to identify.

Now, it hasn’t solved anything for me, but it’s given me some new ways of thinking about what Paul the IT worker deals with and does.

And for that, I’d recommend it. Anything that you walk away from trying to positively work on yourself is probably something good.

Overall though, the work/life concepts in Buddha’s Office have been laid to paper many times before, they’ll be repackaged again and again. The advice could probably be summed up in three pages pretty succinctly, but people don’t follow pamphlets do they?

Buddha’s Office: The Ancient Art or Waking Up While Working Well releases on Amazon on December 3rd, 2019. Should you click that link we’ll get a commission from Amazon.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts