The In-Between is a reminder to slow down and learn to appreciate the little moments in life, like the times when we’re really just waiting for the next big thing, as they shape our lives a lot more than we think.
The Art of Work is Jeff Goins’s current and most widely known masterpiece, but if you dig deeper you’ll actually find he’s published a couple of books already, all of which carry a message worth spreading.
The In-Between is about the time you spend waiting for the bus, expecting your late friend at a coffee shop or hoping your son goes to sleep again soon, so you can get some rest.
It shows us that life really isn’t about the next big vacation, move or promotion at work. Once you learn how to let go of your expectations and savor the little, seemingly irrelevant moments in-between those big events, you’ll see that this, while our biggest struggle, might also be our biggest chance to grow.
Here are 3 great lessons from Jeff’s insights about mindfulness and gratitude to help you slow down:
- Let go of your expectations and you’ll see that even tiny moments can be life-changing.
- Start paying attention in the now so you can start appreciating each moment.
- Celebrate the big moments and cherish them when they occur.
Ready for some lessons in gratitude 101? Let’s do it!
Lesson 1: Let go of your expectations and you’ll see that even tiny moments can be life-changing.
One night Jeff’s infant son woke up and started crying. Eager to get back to sleep, Jeff hoped he could rock him back to sleep sooner rather than later. However, his son was stubborn and just wouldn’t fall asleep again.
Eventually, Jeff gave up and accepted that he probably wouldn’t sleep at all that night. Once he did, he took his son down into the living room and started playing with him. All of a sudden, his son started smiling and using new words he’d never said before. As Jeff realized this was a life-changing moment, he saw how easily he could’ve missed it.
Had he not let go of his expectations about how the night would turn out, he never would’ve shared this special moment with his son.
While it’s always good to have a plan, you should never try to force your expectations of how things turn out into reality – it’s right when things go wrong or off-track that life happens. If you don’t stop and give up control once in a while, you might miss it.
Lesson 2: Start paying attention here and now, and you’ll learn to value each and every moment.
When his semester abroad in Spain ended, Jeff reacted like any student studying overseas would: he didn’t want to go home. Hoping to at least turn the journey back home to “boring Illinois” into an adventure, he decided to take the train.
But unlike the exciting and ever-changing scenery you can witness when riding trains through Europe, a cross-country train trip in the United States turned out to be quite dull and boring. One gray town and empty cornfield after the next left Jeff disappointed, when all of a sudden, a fellow passenger exclaimed: “It’s beautiful!”
The man was a florist and the two started chatting. The florist was actually a widower and heading home too, to see his daughter and visit his wife’s grave. Something he said stuck with Jeff: “There’s nothing like going home.”
When you think about the people that matter most to you, it can transform even a cold, barren winter landscape into the most beautiful scenery.
Whenever I travel, going home always makes me nostalgic. Jeff learned that those who matter to us won’t be around forever and his encounter with the florist encouraged him to pay attention to the here and now, instead of spending time wishing things were more exciting.
Lesson 3: Celebrate big events in your life as they happen and be grateful for them.
Jeff was never into the idea of getting married, so when the day eventually did draw closer and closer, he didn’t have high expectations of what most men would probably call the best day of their lives (like one of his close friends).
While big moments like these don’t make up the majority of your life, you should still take some time to celebrate them as they happen and appreciate them.
As his fiancée walked down the aisle, his friend grabbed a guitar and started singing a song Jeff had written for his wife. It suddenly hit Jeff what a big day it really was and he started crying, realizing that it really would be the best day of his life.
So while you shouldn’t obsess over the big events in your life, do appreciate them and give them the attention they deserve. You might regret it years later, if you don’t.
My personal take-aways
This book isn’t very long, but it needn’t be. The message is clear: slow down, look around and appreciate the here and now. Be grateful for the little things, the big things and the bad things.
There’s beauty to be found in every single moment we’re alive, and Jeff ever so kindly reminds us to do so with this wonderful piece of writing, directly from the heart.
Go get yourself a copy, sit in the corner of your favorite café (like I’m doing right now) and read it in one go. You can thank me later 😉