From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work


A successful businessman traveled to India to spend a month working in one of Mother Teresa’s shelters. He longed to meet the tiny nun, but Mother Teresa was traveling, and it wasn’t until the day before his departure that he received an audience. When he was finally in her presence, much to his surprise, he burst into tears. All the times when he’d been self-centered, busy or focused on his own gain flashed before his eyes, and he felt an enormous sadness that he had missed so many opportunities in his life to give of himself and his resources. Without a word, Mother Teresa walked over to where he was seated, put her hands on his shoulders and looked deeply into his eyes. “Don’t you know,” she said, “that God knows you are doing the best that you can.”

Work is an integral part of our lives, filled with a wide variety of experiences. In writing this book, we received stories from teachers and engineers, carpenters and accountants, artists, managers, housekeepers, chiropractors— and workers from many other professions. Reading these stories, we have been deeply touched by the enormous heart, soul and spirit that people express through their work. Day after day, we all get up every morning, in many cases deal with a busy family, then go to work to spend 8, 10, even 12 hours making our contribution. This is commitment in action.

Sweeping and profound changes are occurring every day in the workplace, but we still long for our basic human needs to be met—meaningful relationships, creative fulfillment, and the knowledge that our work is valued and valuable.

There are definite signs that work is undergoing a renewal. This is reflected in our chapter headings, including The Power of Acknowledgment (Chapter 3)—discovering the life-affirming, positive energy of recognition; Service: Setting New Standards (Chapter 4)—exploring the richness of giving; and Follow Your Heart (Chapter 5)—emphasizing the value of intuitive knowing.

You can use these stories in many ways—as a good read, as fuel for reflection, as a respite you seek when you’re down or you’re up—but above all, please share them with your friends and co-workers. Let the stories lead you to discussion and sharing. If you’re inspired, share your inspiration; if you’re amused, share your laughter; if your heart is touched, reach out to another.

As we approach the new millennium, let’s support each other in having the work we do be fulfilling, rewarding and a contribution to us all. As Thomas Aquinas said, “There is no joy in living without joy in work.”

Reading these stories will remind you again, as it has reminded us, that when everything else is scraped away, we are working souls—loving, growing, always evolving—” doing the best that we can.”

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

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