The Napkin, the Melon and the Monkey by Barbara Burke

All the three elements - the napkin, the melon and the monkey, represent insights that help in living a stress-free life.

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Published by: Hay House
ISBN: 9380480032
Pages: 144
Price: INR99

Ancient wisdom for modern times

I have always considered work as a part of life so when I read work-related advice I often try to see how it could be applied to all aspects of my life. This is one book that made that task very easy.

The story is of a customer service executive named Olivia, who handles phone calls from angry and frustrated customers and she often reacts by shouting back at them – something that she always regrets later. But since she is on such a short fuse most of the time, a little provocation is enough for her to snap. This negativity spills over to her home and begins to affect her relationship with her husband and kids.

In the midst of her chaotic and often frustrating work life, she meets Isabel, a compassionate colleague who is always calm and sorted. Isabel understands Olivia’s predicament and offers her perspective on how to keep calm in the face of stress. Her advice is so simple that it is delivered on a small piece of paper napkin.

Initially, Olivia finds it difficult to follow Isabel’s advice but she persists in her efforts—until they bear fruit.

What I found endearing is the manner in which the author conveys Olivia’s struggle—she brings out the reader’s empathy towards Olivia’s trials and tribulations. Reading through her struggle reminded me of Mahatma Gandhi’s brilliant insight: “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.”

As Olivia continues on the path shown by Isabel, she begins to receive more helpful advice from well wishers. Her performance steadily improves until she’s promoted. Her equation with her family also becomes better. The way the author brings out the contrast of ‘before and after’ in her relationship with her son is remarkable.

A short and simple book, it’s one that you can finish reading at one go and it’s sure to keep you hooked till the end.

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