What if happiness hides in this routine moment, just waiting for us to see it? This is what Tzivia Gover, professional educator and leader of retreats and workshops, addresses in her book, Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life. Her belief and her practice is that you can uncover joy in any part of your day, even when you’re completing the most mundane tasks. Listening for and being mindful of this joy can improve mental and even physical health, and capturing this peace can minimize the stress the day brings. With full-color, original paintings from Olaf Hajek that are perfect for a pick-me-up, within these pages might be the calming force you need to live in the moment and find life’s ordinary joys.
The image of Charlie Chaplin as The Little Tramp in the iconic film Modern Times may seem quaint now, but the accelerated pace of work and our desperate attempts to keep up are not so different now from what they were in the Industrial Age that is comically portrayed in that classic film. In fact, as technology improves, it seems more difficult than ever to foster a healthy relationship with time and to resist the ever-growing pressures to produce more and more at absurdly escalating rates of speed.
In addition, technology has caused a blurring of lines between work time and personal time. The Internet tempts us into distractions during the workday, and smartphones and electronic tablets set up the expectation that we will be available around the clock for business.
Ancient wisdom, however, provides the antidote for the frantic pace of our lives in these modern times. The Sabbath, a time-honored call to refrain from worldly pursuits one day a week, is still something we can adapt to our harried lives. In addition, meditative and contemplative traditions from various faiths teach us to quiet our minds and find a timeless realm of peace and serenity within, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
It is our challenge then to combine today’s technology with ancient wisdom to help us use the gift of time consciously and to set priorities that support and strengthen our intentions.
Exercises for Joy at Work
Take brief breaks every 45 minutes at work. Frequent short breaks have been proven to increase productivity. They make you feel good, too. So set an alert to remind you to get up, gaze out the window, or make a cup of calming herbal tea at regular intervals.
Whether you can allocate time for an entire day of rest or not, you can create Sabbath space in your life by turning off your phone, unplugging the modem, or saying no to “shoulds” for a specified time each day or week. Use this time to connect to your heart, to nature, or to silence—and create space for joy to flow into.
Slow the Flow
Emails and texts speed up our communications to the point where we can barely keep up some days. You can take control of the pace of your life by pausing before your reply. Take three breaths, three hours, or even three days before answering most messages. Better yet, if time permits, respond with a phone call, or even a postcard dropped in the mail.
Separation of Work and Home
Use separate email accounts for personal and work contacts. When at work, resist the temptation to check personal emails, and when at home, resist the urge to check work messages. You can also designate different ringtones for work contacts and personal contacts so you’ll be alerted as to whether it’s your work or home life calling before you reach for your phone.
The wristwatch is a disappearing fashion accessory, as people increasingly opt to check their smartphones for the time instead. But glancing at an electronic screen reveals more than just the time of day. When looking to our phones for the time, we’re bombarded by email alerts, text messages, and news headlines. Looking to your wristwatch or wall clock instead calms the inflow of information. Technology might dictate trends, but peace of mind never goes out of fashion.
Excerpted from Joy in Every Moment (c) Tzivia Gover. Illustration by (c) Olaf Hajek. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.