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How to Flourish: Work & Vocation

May 17, 2023 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

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Is work merely a way to make ends meet, or should it be a means of finding meaning and purpose, being of service, and achieving self-actualization? In the fifth salon of a nine-part series on human flourishing, join host Ashley Zhang to discuss the evolving definitions of work, career, vocation, and calling in our lives.

“In my opinion, I am often rich as Crœsus, not in money, but (though it doesn’t happen every day) rich, because I have found in my work something to which I can devote myself heart and soul, and which gives inspiration and significance to life.” 

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, 11 March 1883

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford commencement address

Today, we want more from work today than ever before. The history of work in six words is, according to writer Derek Thompson, “from jobs to careers to callings.” Indeed, some argue that work is taking the role in our lives once reserved for organized religion, as we expect it to provide us with meaning, purpose, community, and measures of virtue.

There seem to be two two conflicting philosophies of work that branch out from the Protestant and the Catholic views of labor: work as a calling with intrinsic value, versus a means to an end.

Is loving your work a central part of the good life — or is work just a paid job?

  • Do we work to live, or live to work? Can we do both?
  • Is work a privilege and opportunity to serve others, or a burden that should be minimized?
  • Should work be something we love? Should we follow our passions, or does monetizing what we love ruin it?
  • Is hard work a virtue, or is it actually toxic productivity?
  • How do we find our calling/”Zone of Genius“?
  • Is it not what we do or where we work but how we think about our work that matters?


Recommended reading — skim whatever piques your curiosity!


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May 17, 2023
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
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