For many people, work is meaningful only if it allows you to act compassionately and thereby make a difference in the world.

For some, their heart is open not just to those around them, but to society and the whole planet.

If you’re wondering, “Is it really possible to make a difference?” take a look at the books in this section. They’re written by authors who dare to ask, “Why not?” With their inspiration and example, you might be surprised at what you too can imagine and accomplish!

Yellow golden oriole feeding its younglings on nest in summer
Cover of Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

Another in the ever-popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” collection, this volume features stories of exceptional courage, compassion, and dedication in the workplace. Employees and employers alike will savor these soul-strengthening accounts of individuals who discover spiritual values and find personal fulfillment on the job.

Cover Image of Chop Wood, Carry Water

Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life by Rick Fields, Rex Weyler, Rick Ingrasci, and Peggy Taylor.

Though first published in the early 1980s, this book still feels new.

A good basic guide to the development of spirituality in everyday life.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Beginnings
2. Learning
3. Intimate Relationships
4. Sex
5. Family
6. Work
7. Money
8. Play
9. Tuning the Body
10. Healing
11. Technology
12. The Earth
13. Social Action
14. Inner Guidance
15. Perils of the Path

Cover of Gaia Atlas of Green Economics

The Gaia Atlas of Green Economics by Paul Ekins with Mayer Hillman and Robert Hutchinson.

This book shows us a way out of the destructive obsession with economic growth. It explores a new concept of wealth and wealth creation and describes a new synthesis of the economics of the market, the state, the community, and the household.

The Gaia Atlas of Green Economics clearly outlines what government and individuals can do to repair the environment, create prosperity, and build a sustainable society.

Cover of Small is Beautiful

As relevant as when it was first published, this book is an eloquent exploration of economic programs that take the average person into consideration.

“Enormously broad in scope, pithily weaving together threads from Galbraith and Gandhi, capitalism and Buddhism, science and psychology.”–The New Republic.

Table of Contents

PART I – THE MODERN WORLD

  • The Problem of Production
  • Peace and Permanence
  • The Role of Economics
  • Buddhist Economics
  • A Question of Size

PART II – RESOURCES

  • The Greatest Resource–Education
  • The Proper Use of Land
  • Resources for Industry
  • Nuclear Energy–Salvation or Damnation?
  • Technology with a Human Face

PART III – THE THIRD WORLD

  • Development
  • Social and Economic Problems Calling for the Development of Intermediate Technology
  • Two Million Villages
  • The Problem of Unemployment in India

PART IV – ORGANISATION AND OWNERSHIP

  • A Machine to Foretell the Future?
  • Towards a Theory of Large-Scale Organisation
  • Socialism
  • Ownership
  • New Patterns of Ownership
Cover of Compassion

Compassion: A Reflection on Christian Life by D. P. McNeill, Douglas A. Morrison, Henri J. M. Nouwen.

Compassion is no longer merely an eraser of human mistakes. It is a force of prayer and action–the expression of God’s love for us and our love for Him and one another. Or so say the authors of this collection of provocative essays that place compassion at the heart of Christian life as a counterbalance and a challenge to a world governed far too long by principles of power and destructive control.

Cover of Compassion in Action

Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service by Ram Dass, Mirabai Bush, Toinette Lippe (Editor). 

Ram Dass is the author of the perennial bestselling Be Here Now! and spiritual inspiration to millions.

In “Compassion in Action,” he presents a heartfelt offering of encouragement and advice for those who want to commit time and energy to relieve suffering in the world.

He shares how to take the first step to increase compassionate action in your life:

  • Identify your talents and the people and organizations that can put them to use.
Cover of How Can I Help

How Can I Help: Stories and Reflections on Service by Ram Dass, Paul Gorman, Toinette Lippe. 

How Can I Help is a practical handbook guiding exploration of your desire to be of service in the helping professions, as a volunteer, as a community activist, or simply as a compassionate friend or relative.

This book reminds you just how much you have to give and how doing so can lead to some of the most joyous and meaningful moments of your life.

Cover of A Citizen Legislature

A Citizen Legislature by Ernest Callenbach and Michael Phillips. 

“At the birth of the American republic, as James Madison noted, members of the constitutional convention ‘wished for vigor in the government, but wished that vigorous authority to flow immediately from the legitimate source of all authority. The government ought to possess not only, first, the force, but secondly, the mind or sense of the people at large. The legislature ought to be the most exact transcript of the whole society.’

“This concept of a popular legislature has a deep and lasting appeal. It offers a durable standard by which to judge the composition (and the actions) of any legislature in a country which professes to live by democratic principles.”

“Living Business” in InContext, #11, p. 57, Autumn 1985.


What if the U.S. House of Representatives were made up of people drawn from a random lottery of all the nation’s citizens? What kind of laws would such a body propose?

Here’s one fascinating scenario. Citizen Legislature has been called The Federalist Papers of our time.