The self-help section is a popular category in bookstores. Self-help usually means self-improvement. It can reference activities ranging from the acquisition of some additional knowledge to the shedding of some excess weight. Two new titles in “The School of Life” series address some broader forms of self improvement.
“How to Change the World” by John Paul Flintoff and “How to Find Fulfilling Work” by Roman Krznaric are the latest installments in a series published by Picador Books. They are the third and fourth offerings in a line of pocket-sized paperbacks. The previous titles were “How to Think More About Sex” by Alain de Botton and “How to Stay Sane” by Philippa Perry.
“How to Change the World” by John Paul Flintoff could seem to address a rather ambitious notion. The author realizes that. He observes that “we often conclude that to change the world would be hard work, if not impossible. And so we don’t even try.”
You might be wondering what he has in mind here. He gives readers examples of some people who were able to really “Do Something.” He says that it is essential to realize that “only the person who actively seeks to make change truly understands that there is a choice to be made about how we live our lives, and can observe clearly the effect they are having.”
The author illustrates his points with instances where positive change has been instigated. He offers suggestions of some things that we should try to do. There are inspiring photos, too; Rosa Parks on the bus, some people tearing down the Berlin Wall. Do you think that you could make a difference? This book might inspire you. And if you question your ability to enact change you probably won’t bother reading it.
Do you love your job? The quality of our lives is enhanced when we enjoy our occupations. Do you feel a sense of fulfillment in your employment? No? Perhaps you should consider reading “How to Find Fulfilling Work” by Roman Krznaric.
OK, so you hate your job. Do you think it would be possible to find work that you actually liked? The author asserts that many of us have accepted what he calls “the ‘grin and bear it’ approach. This is the view that we should get our expectations under control and recognize that work, for the vast majority of humanity - including ourselves - is mostly drudgery and always will be.”
This book advances a different approach; that first we must determine what we really desire in our lives. Then we must find out what we really want from our jobs. He believes that there are three crucial components in deciding this: “meaning, flow, and freedom.”
The author encourages us to try out unconventional approaches to finding our dream jobs. One key aspect: “we must enter a more playful and experimental way of being, where we do then think, not think then do.”
These books are packed with suggestions for ways to transform stagnation into inspiration. They will slip easily into a purse or a back pocket. What are you waiting for?
THIS WEEK’S BOOKS
“How to Change the World” by John Paul Flintoff (Picador, 192 pages, $16)
“How to Find Fulfilling Work” by Roman Krznaric (Picador, 210 pages, $16)