Executive Book Club

The book of poetry this workplace happiness expert thinks everyone should read

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Oliver Helbig | Moment | Getty Images

When Jenn Lim pitched her new book "Beyond Happiness" in early 2020, she thought she'd discuss her decade of work as CEO of Delivering Happiness, the business consulting firm she cofounded to help companies build happier, more sustainable workforces using science-backed research on happiness.

No one, let alone she, could predict the way the coronavirus pandemic would change everything about daily life and work in the months to come. As she provided updates on how companies from Starbucks to Airbnb were responding to the global crisis, she experienced her own life-changing loss when her cofounder and close personal friend Tony Hsieh, the larger-than-life business leader known for his work as CEO of Zappos, died suddenly in November 2020.

As she worked through her grief, Lim says one book stands out for helping her through her personal as well as professional challenges.

Lim tells CNBC Make It that she recommends everyone, especially those early in their career, read "Inward," a collection of poetry, quotes, and prose written by a meditator, writer and speaker Diego Perez who goes by the name yung pueblo, which means "young people."

Published in 2017, the collection explores "the movement from self love to unconditional love, the power of letting go and the wisdom that comes when we truly try to know ourselves. It serves as a reminder to the reader that healing, transformation and freedom are possible."

Lim describes the text as concise and straightforward and "timely for whether you're young, as in literally young in age, or you want to keep being young at heart, in your mind and in your spirit."

In the last year, Lim says she's seen the power of connecting through grief and healing both in her personal life and through her work as a happiness expert. "Since the reset on humanity hit the whole world, people wanted to understand what it meant to be scientifically happy, but through the lens of grief and loss," she says. "It was a reminder that it's not just our highs in life that we learn from, it's also our lows."

Lim also connected with yung pueblo's themes of discovering the self and authenticity, she says, as it relates to how she aims to help individuals build a sense of happiness within themselves and, by extension, through their work.

"Where we are now, there's no longer work-life separation or even balance — it's work-life integration," Lim says. "It's great seeing how this next generation is looking at things in simple yet very grounded, spiritual ways," she says, referring to millennials and gen Z.

"Ultimately at the end of the day," she adds, "what else are we here for if not to be authentic to who that spirit is within us? And to transcend that, not just figure out our self-actualization, but also to help others?"

Check out:

Workers quitting en masse is 'a great thing,' says workplace happiness expert—here's why

The biggest misconception people have about being happy at work, according to a happiness expert

The book that helped Simone Biles deal with criticism after the Olympics

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