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Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful - No Matter What [Hardcover]

Srikumar S. Rao
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2010
“The author claims that we’ve started to believe if everything doesn’t pan out exactly as planned, we’ve failed- particularly in the workplace. This book has helped me cope and given me practical advice I can pass on to others” Zest, July 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional (1 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071664327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071664325
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 16.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Srikumar S. Rao created "Creativity and Personal Mastery," the pioneering course that was among the most popular and highest rated at many of the world’s top business schools. It remains the only such course to have its own alumni association. His work has been covered by major media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Time, Fortune, BusinessWeek, the London Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. CNN, PBS, and Voice of America, and dozens of radio and TV stations have interviewed him.
Please visit www.srikumarsrao.com for many tools and useful resources.You can follow him on Twitter @srikumarsrao

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness at Work 31 May 2010
By Tami Brady TOP 500 REVIEWER
We live in a me-centered society. We want what we want and we want it right now. For some reason, we believe that if everything isn't exactly as we plan it, we've somehow failed. So we focus on the getting and achieving rather than experiencing the here and now and seeing what's really important.

Over the years, I've read hundreds of self help, personal growth, and business books. Many of these works promote or touch on the concepts presented in Happiness at Work. However, none do what this book does. The concepts presented clearly and in a straightforward manner step by step so that the reader grows with and into each step. To further clarify and help integrate the information, the author provides concrete things to do and little stories bring home the points.

The bottom line is that we think our lives need to be fixed. We think we need to manage our time better, find a better job, or create a flashy advertising campaign to bring in more customers. The truth is that we need manage ourselves better. We need to look to what we do right now and really pay attention. We are missing out on life by chasing moonbeams and fairytales that won't really make us happy anyway.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Some of the most interesting material in this book includes Srikumar S. Rao's advice re "No Matter What." Using the extended metaphor of a journey, he offers practical advice about how to cope with inclement weather, barriers, delays, unforeseen threats, etc. His insights are best revealed within the narrative, in context and in sequence. After Rao provides a "map" to his reader and shows his reader the "road," only the reader can make the "journey."

In this context, I am reminded of Henry Ford's observation, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right." Having read and then re-read Rao's book, I now presume to paraphrase that observation: "Whether you think you can be happy at work or you can't, you're probably right." Make no mistake about it: What Rao asks his reader to do is very difficult (but not impossible) and very complicated (but not incomprehensible). "So, go forward with the thought that this is not a book to be read; it is to be experienced. Engage with it, wrestle with it, turn it upside down and peer into its crevices. If you expend significant emotional energy in this grappling, it will pay for itself tenfold or more in terms of the benefit you derive."

At the end of each of the 35 brief chapters, Rao inserts a synthesis of his key points in the material just provided. I strongly recommend that most (preferably all) of these be reviewed occasionally, not because any of them are head-snapping revelations (nor does Rao make any such claim) but because they serve as helpful reminders that re-enforce each other.

Readers will appreciate the casual, conversational tone that Rao immediately establishes and then sustains. He makes brilliant use of direct address. He also has a playful (but not disingenuous) manner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read it slowly 16 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Definitely this is not a book you can read during one evening. It is necessary to digest it slowly and get inspiration. Clever observations of how we behave and how we can feel better.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book - Changed my outlook on life 14 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When my colleagues called me negative I realized that my opinion of myself as a wise cynic did not fit in with the views of the people around me. After I heard professor Rao speak on the BBC in respect of us setting goals but then only concentrating on the process I realised that he seemed to be on the right track.

the chapters on reselience and not defining events as good or bad were excellent. In many ways this is 21st Century spiritualism where Professor Rao teach's us to detach our ego from the work we do and approach everything in a way that encompasses all the different actors... at the same time acknowleding that we ourselfs play different roles throughout our lives.

The book was so good I bought another copy, one just for myself and another to lend to people around me. I have read it twice so far but I keep returning to the ideas within it to steady myself on difficult days.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready to Change Your Life 1 Dec 2010
By Marelisa Fabrega - Published on Amazon.com
Srikumar S. Rao, Ph.D., teaches his ideas about how people can experience more fulfilling lives, both personally and professionally, in an MBA-level class called "Creativity and Personal Mastery", which has been taught at the Columbia Business School, the London Business School, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, among others.

Dr. Rao got his MBA from a top school in India, and his Ph.D. in marketing from Columbia University. Having read a lot of spiritual and mystical biographies, he decided to find a way to make those teachings applicable to work and to the corporate world. For those who are skeptical of his teachings, he simply asks them to complete the exercises and apply the concepts for a period of time, and then to evaluate whether their lives have improved.

Below you'll find four happiness exercises taught by Dr. Rao to his MBA students, and which he shares with the world at large in his wonderful book, "Happiness at Work".

1. The "If ... Then" Model

Happiness, explains Dr. Rao, is an underlying sense of well-being. He adds that it's feeling, "I'm OK, I will always be OK, there is nothing that needs to happen for me to be OK, and there is nothing that can happen that will stop me from being OK". In addition, he explains that this is our natural state of being, but we obscure it by thinking that something external has to happen in order for us to be happy.

He recommends that people try the following exercise in order to delve deeper into the question, "What do I need to be happy?". Take out a piece of a paper and ask yourself what you need in order to be happy. Really think about it. Then, begin writing. You might find that you write down things such as those included in the list below.

I'll be happy when:

* I start making more money.
* I find a life partner.
* I have a child.
* I get my degree.
* I change jobs, or I get a promotion.
* I have more leisure time.
* I lose weight.
* I get to go on vacation to Paris.
* I get recognition for my work.
* My book gets published.
* I move to a bigger apartment.
* My child starts doing better in school.
* My spouse gets a job.
* All my debts are finally paid off.

Once you've completed your list, look at it. Then get a red marker. As you read each item you've written down, draw a line across it with the red marker. Do this with all of the items you wrote down. Recognize that you don't need any of those things in order to be happy.

Dr. Rao explains that there is nothing you have to get in order to be happy. He adds that anything that you can get, you can "un-get". That is, you can lose it. Are you going to make your happiness contingent on getting something you may or may not get, and which you might lose once you get it? Happiness is something that's innately within you. Happiness does not have to be acquired or achieved.

When asked whether people should set goals, Dr. Rao responds that goals are important, because they give direction to your life. The flaw in setting goals is making your happiness depend on achieving your goals: if I achieve this goal, then I'll be happy. Dr. Rao adds that what matters is the process of working toward the achievement of your goals, not the outcome. He recommends that you adopt the following attitude:

* If you achieve your goal, you'll be fine.
* If you don't achieve your goal, you'll also be fine.

In addition, Dr. Rao points out that there's a paradox in that it's more likely that you'll get what you want once you stop insisting that things happen in a certain way.

2. Stop Labeling Things as "Bad"

"Be generous using the good label, and be extremely stingy using the bad label." Dr. Rao

Dr. Rao explains that we have a tendency to label everything that happens to us as either "good" or "bad". In addition, we use the "bad" label anywhere from 3 to 10 times more often than the "good" label. He recommends that we stop using the "bad" label. If something extreme happens which you can't get yourself to label as "good", then, at the very least, stop yourself from labeling it as "bad".

Dr. Rao gives four reasons for his recommendation. They're explained below.

A. The "Bad" Label Limits Your Ability to Notice Opportunities

Once you refuse to label something as "bad", it opens you up to noticing possibilities that you wouldn't have considered otherwise. Dr. Rao gives losing your job as an example:

If you think about losing your job as an opportunity to find something better that brings you greater joy and fulfillment-instead of looking at it as a bad thing-you're better off. This is because your mind looks for evidence to support any belief that you're currently holding. That is, if you think of losing your job as an opportunity, your mind will get to work on looking for evidence that this is true.

B. In the Moment You Can't Really Know If Something is Bad

Think back: can you recall something that happened to you in the past which you labeled as "bad" when it happened, but which later turned out to be a blessing in disguise? Maybe you had your heard broken by someone, only to meet someone who was much more compatible for you a few months later. Recognize that when something happens to you, you don't really know right away whether it's good or bad.

C. The "Bad Label" Makes You Experience Negative Emotions

The act of labeling something as "bad" makes you experience negative emotions. When we tell ourselves that something is bad, the odds grow overwhelmingly that we will experience it as such. As an example, Dr. Rao tells the story of one of his students who had his cell phone stolen in the subway. The student saw a girl take his cell phone and run off with it, but there were lots of people in between them and he wasn't able to catch her.

Initially, the student started telling himself that this was a very bad situation to be in, and he felt upset and angry. Then he decided to stop labeling the situation as being "bad". Once he stopped doing this he thought of how lucky he was that his financial circumstances were such that he could easily afford to replace his cell phone, and this made him feel immense gratitude.

D. Labeling Something as "Bad" is a Waste of Time

Here's a quote from Dr. Rao: "Many who rise so triumphantly never label what they go through as bad and lament over it. They simply take it as a given as if they were a civil engineer surveying the landscape through which a road is to be built. In this view, a swamp is not a bad thing. It is merely something that has to be addressed in the construction plan."

Instead of stopping to lament dead ends, setbacks, and obstacles, accept that that's the way it is, and start looking for alternate routes. Think of a mouse running through a maze looking for cheese. If the mouse finds the path blocked by a wall, he simply turns around and looks for a different route. The mouse doesn't sit down to lament his misfortune at having run across a wall. Dr. Rao advocates something which he calls extreme resiliency: every time you fall, bounce back up immediately and keep going.

3. Run a Diagnosis of Your Mental Chatter

Dr. Rao explains that your mental chatter, or internal monologue, is your constant companion. It's with you from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, to the instant in which you drift off to sleep at night, constant and relentless. For many people, this mental chatter includes a lot of negative judgments, about themselves and about others.

The tool which Dr. Rao recommends that you use in order to perform a diagnosis of your mental chatter-to determine whether it's mostly positive or negative, and how it's affecting how you feel and how you act-is to carry a notebook around for two weeks. Do the following:

* Record your mental chatter, both positive and negative, throughout the day.
* Be as specific as possible.
* How many times do you beat yourself up during the day?
* Do you compare yourself unfavorably to others?
* Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
* Are you constantly thinking critical thoughts of others?
* Remember to write down your positive thoughts as well.

In addition, as you record your mental chatter, pay close attention to how your emotional state is tied to it. Which thoughts make you feel sad, angry, afraid, or dissatisfied? Which thoughts make you feel confident, peaceful, or grateful? Also, notice how your emotional state affects your behavior. Write all of this down in your notebook.

This process of paying attention to your inner monologue will gradually make you more and more aware of it. You'll notice that this awareness leaves you less vulnerable to its sudden twists and turns. When your inner dialogue starts to turn negative, you'll no longer be led haplessly down its destructive path.

4. Alternate Reality Exercise

For the alternate reality exercise, Dr. Rao has his students describe in detail a situation which is concerning them. This can be something at work or something in their personal lives. What the students don't realize is that what they're describing is not reality, it's "a reality". That is, it's the reality they've constructed.

With the help of other students in the class, Dr. Rao then has them construct a different reality: one that is better for them and which they can get themselves to believe at some level. Then he has his students go out and live as if this alternate reality that they've come up with is their reality.

At first, the students are likely to come across a lot of evidence that shows that the alternate reality that they've come up with isn't true. But they'll also get some evidence that supports the alternate reality. Dr. Rao indicates that it's important to write down any evidence that they come across that supports the alternate reality. Little by little, more supportive evidence starts to show up. This is because we see what we focus on. In addition, the universe conspires to bring people and situations to us that support our model of the world.

Dr. Rao's students are always surprised at how little by little the alternate reality that they constructed becomes their new reality. And since the alternate reality is better for them, their quality of life improves.


Dr. Rao tells his students the following: "I have a vision for you. And that vision is that you get up each morning and your blood is singing at the thought of being who you are, and doing what you do. That as you go through your day you can literally sink to your knees in gratitude at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you. That as you go through your day you become radiantly alive."

Then he adds: "If your life isn't like that, I'd like to humbly suggest that you're wasting your life." The tools and exercises that he offers are meant to help you get started on your journey to achieving the vision that he holds for you, and which you should hold for yourself.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding 1 April 2010
By Book Fanatic - Published on Amazon.com
I generally don't review books on Amazon although I read a lot and rank them to improve my own recommendations. I could not believe this book had only one review so I'm adding another. I have read many, many personal development, self-help, and psychology books and this one ranks as one of the best. I cannot imagine anyone not getting value from this book. The writing is so clear and the ideas so good it may be the best $15 you ever spent.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing 30 Mar 2010
By J. McCarthy - Published on Amazon.com
I have read many books about positive psychology, optimism, and happiness. I enjoyed many of them. I expected something somewhat similar here, but was surprised to see that Happiness at Work offers a completely different way of looking at things. Srikumar Rao shows that so much of our own sense of happiness is in how we approach things--his advice to stop labeling things that happen as good or bad, for example, seemed odd at first. But when I really thought about it, it made complete sense. Things that seem terribly bad at first might end up taking us in new directions that we wouldn't have pursued had the "bad" thing not happened, and we end up more enriched, satisfied, and more filled with joy. And things that seem "good" often don't really make us any happier in the long run. The book is deceptively simple--an easy, yet profound read with thoughts that really stay with you. I recommend it for anyone who is feeling stuck and unhappy.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read one book this year 6 April 2010
By K. Benson - Published on Amazon.com
If you read one book this year, make this the one. This book CAN change your life, completely, for the better, forever. This is not some "smile long enough and you'll be happy" bs book. Dr. Rao has broken down some of the most complicated concepts ever discussed throughout human history related to perception and laid them bare in an accessible format. In other words, you can't help but be helped when you read this book.

If you're interested in questions relating to perception (and if you don't know what that means, you can replace that with: if you liked the Matrix Trilogy), you will LOVE this book. Seriously. Get the book. Read the book. Buy it for your friends.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parables And Advice That Could Be Life Changing 24 April 2010
By Wilfrid K. F. Wong - Published on Amazon.com
By now, I have joined the workforce for a decade and a half and I consider myself - after years of learning and finding my way - pretty happy at work. I manage to maintain a good level of work life balance, I have built good rapport with my colleagues, and I take pride in my daily work that contributes at an organisational level. OK, there are ups and downs. But overall, I am contented. So what can "Happiness at Work" possibly teach me? It turns out that there are more than I have anticipated. And throughout my working life thus far, I have met friends who are more prone to feeling angry, envious, afraid, exhausted, disgusted, drained, anxious, betrayed, confused, cheated, frustrated, guilty, humiliated, impatient, inadequate, vulnerable, manipulated, embarrassed, neglected, heartbroken, trapped, fatigue, victimized, resentful, or worn out - borrowing the descriptions from the book. I sincerely wish that they could take some time, read this book, and make a positive change to their lives.

Reading "Happiness at Work" is a journey. The author has divided the book into bite-size chapters filled with parables and advice. The materials are largely derived from his experience of conducting workshops to corporate executives on this very topic. Some of the parables and ideas, I observe, are based on Indian tradition or Buddhism so they could be familiar to some, intriguingly foreign to others. Depending on your background and level of experience (or shall I say how unhappy you are at work in reality?), be prepared to be confronted and you may find yourself denying or not wanting to accept what the author says. I too, at times. But if you read this book with an open mind and go through the exercises as instructed by the author, you may be surprised at how you would view the world and yourself differently. Some parables, you may recognize, are similar to other self help books or real life stories. Such as the idea of beginning with an end in mind from the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Steven Covey (which may also be based on materials from elsewhere). Or the powerful theme of "This, too, shall pass" that I use daily, in fact, prior to reading this book. There are still much to learn such as always being positive may not be the most ideal way of dealing with the external factors, investing on the process instead of the outcomes, understanding that there is no right or wrong and the different mental models that work or do not work for you, examining what happiness is and how some are able to attain that, and more.

One powerful lesson I have learned, perhaps, is that there is no dream job or passionate work. Passion is what inside of us and our ideal job will find us once we start kindling that enthusiasm. One colleague at work joked with me when he saw me carrying this book. He said, "Are you not happy at work? Why do you need to read this book?". I humbly think that even if you think you are happy at work, there are still much to learn, to your surprise. "Happiness at Work" has a high re-read value as you would need practice and constant reminder to get the ideas to work. And it can be a nice gift for your friends too.
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