I’ve heard all my life not to judge a book by its cover, but when I picked up Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life, my judgment was an accurate one. With pink tones highlighting the word “Joy” across the cover, I couldn’t help but smile as I held the book.
Joy in Every Moment, by Tzivia Gover, is packaged as a gifting book, one that you might expect to receive after an accomplishment or graduation. The design, weight, and overall aesthetic immediately appealed to my eye and hands, courtesy of the vibrant illustrations by artist Olaf Hajek and the matte texture of the pages. A quick flip through the pages show that the colors of the cover are interspersed inside as well. Inspirational quotes and full-color pages punctuate the text. While these factors may not sound like an important part of a psychology-related book, they fit the overall theme of joy perfectly and put my mind at ease as I sat down with a cup of tea and began to read.
Gover takes on the often obscure topics of joy and happiness with a light, relatable, and practical touch that’s evident from the opening chapter. Gover, a writer, educator, dream therapist, and Reiki master, walks us through how joy can be found at each stage of the day and of life. While that encapsulates the overall premise of the book in one short sentence, what Gover packs into a delicately designed read far exceeds my brevity. The eight chapters break down the process of embracing joy by defining it and seeing it all day long: at home, at work, on the go, in solitude, with others, and in celebration.
For the purposes of this review, I chose to read the book cover to cover, but for my second read-through, I plan to read a page a day and journal my way through, as Gover suggests.
The core message is just what the title implies: using creative exercises and elements of mindfulness to choose and embrace joy in every moment, regardless of circumstances. From journaling and writing lists of the little moments of joy throughout the day to meditation techniques and self-affirming moments of pause and gratitude, Gover makes the cultivation of joy and happiness a step-by-step, moment-by-moment process. The simple little things she suggests particularly affected me, such as choosing to drive in the right lane to slow down and set a calmer pace for the day, and taking the time to deeply feel the moment before moving on to tackle the next task.
One thing that Gover did incredibly well was leave the existentialism out of the explanation. She strikes a perfect balance between poetic nothings about happiness and the harsh realities of life.
“A phosphorescent green comma of a bird weighing little more than a penny, the hummingbird hovers above the bright flame of a lobelia’s petal while probing its depths,” she writes. But while this “little fleck of winged beauty seems to float effortlessly for the pure pleasure of it,” the creature, Gover writes, “is actually hard at work.”
Indeed, the bird reminds us that “drinking in joy is not a passive pursuit. Hummingbirds us all their physical powers and tricks to achieve their goals. They fly forward and backward, and even upside down, in their quest for the best of what life has to offer.”
As a very busy small-business owner, writer, editor, student, and artist, I seriously struggle with taking the time to “stop and smell the roses,” to pause and see the good in each moment. Idioms about the pursuit of happiness have always nauseated me, since they usually come with no practical action to follow through on. Gover’s book is incredibly helpful in that regard. She addresses the problem with clear, day-by-day, concrete steps to take.
I can see adopting the majority of this book into my daily activities, as Gover makes it relatable to the everyday person with everyday problems. While a section for journaling or an accompanying blank journal would have made the text even more ready-to-use, this is a book that really helps.
Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life
Storey Publishing, November 2015
Paperback, 220 pages