It was day five of a snow-imposed six day vacation for my kids.
My husband was away for four of those days and another snowstorm was just beginning. We were stuck at the end of our quarter mile driveway as six more inches of snow fell. I was tired of being home alone with my kids, because even though I adore them they were driving me stir crazy. I was impatient with their requests, their quibbles and the incessant discussion of and videos about Minecraft.
But, I was trapped in the house with them alone for another two days.
I turned to Facebook to catch up on what my friends were doing but that made me feel more frustrated. I picked up the phone but realized so many others were in my situation that calling anyone seemed silly. Then I remembered I had received the latest book by one of my favorite teachers, Sharon Salzberg, earlier this year.
I grabbed it, laid down on the couch and found just what I needed: a simple guide, complete with practical exercises, to being happy at my job.
Sharon Salzberg’s book, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, is a quick read filled with easy to comprehend practices and compelling examples of her methods in action. She outlines steps to find these qualities at your job through simple and often only five minute exercises that can be done anywhere.
After sending my then getting along children to play Mindcraft together, I sat down and read Sharon’s book.
I did the exercises she suggested: taking five minutes here and there during the day to be mindful of where I was and what I was experiencing. I drew my attention to my breath. I found compassion for my children who were stuck at home with me in the snow. I found resilience to make it through two more days of the same. I communicated my feelings to myself and to my husband.
To say Sharon’s book, Real Happiness at Work, is merely a handbook for the employed is to simplify the universality of what she shares. The principles and exercises Salzberg writes about are applicable to anyone, anywhere, doing anything. Her skillful way of breaking down the often esoteric subjects of Buddhism and mindfulness demonstrate her vast knowledge and the fact that she is steeped in these themes.
I was an exhausted and exasperated mom stuck at home in an unending cycle of snow storms and her suggestions gave me peace I was unable to find elsewhere within myself. After reading this treasure of a book I was appreciative, compassionate and ready to go make Creeper snowmen from Minecraft with my kids.
I found real happiness at work and it suddenly did not feel like work anymore.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author