Aaron Edelheit on Why the Sabbath is the Key to a Meaningful & Fulfilled life

Aaron Edelheit

What if the secret to success, happiness, communication, productivity is thousands of years old?  Or, I like to call this book "What a Jewish businessman wants Christians to know about Sabbath!"

Author Aaron Edelheit in his new book THE HARD BREAK examines the need for Sabbath - mentally, physically, spiritually. It tells Aaron's personal story, along with now science is proving what scripture has told us.  If we want to be better at our jobs, have better communication in our families, lead healthier lives, be more creative - one of the best ways is to take a full 24 hours off each week.  God knew this was important when He made it a commandment! 

And equally important is taking a hard break each year - and using your vacation days. Studies show your productivity goes up when you get an extended hard break. 

We talk to Aaron Edelheit about his new book in this exclusive interview.

Q: Thank you Aaron for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: tell us a little about yourself and your ministry.

I'm a workaholic and I'm driven in ways that I'm not sure I understand. I wrote my book, The Hard Break: The Case for a 24/6 Lifestyle not only for others, but also to myself, because I need to remind myself all the time as to what is truly important. The Sabbath serves as a foundation to remind me every week that there is more to life than work and the busyness of the modern world.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book on the sabbath?

I have been observing the Sabbath for over 12 years now and it wasn't until I sold my last company, The American Home, that I realized that the Sabbath had not only transformed my own life personally, but it had allowed me to achieve much greater business success than if I had been working all of the time. My book is trying to spread the message of the incredible benefits of the Sabbath.

Q: Some may say that the sabbath commandment does apply to us Christians because it's part of the old covenant. What would you say to that?

I don't think of it as a commandment, but to me, the Sabbath is a truly wonderful gift. Despite all of the pressures of the world and the barrage of information, the Sabbath gives me a vacation every week. Who doesn't want a vacation? Who doesn't want a time and moment to breathe and just be yourself? The Sabbath is a gift that refreshes, renews and restores me every week.

Q: In the book, you talk about 7 steps to a successful sabbath, can you briefly outline for us what they are?

I will give you three and tempt you to read the rest of the book!

1. Take Baby steps. If you aren't used to completely unplugging for a day, try starting with just the morning or for four or five hours. Then try to grow that practice over time.

2. Go for a walk in nature. The research is overwhelming how good it is for you to be out walking or hiking in nature. The Sabbath is a great time to do this.

3. Make it special. Try to do things that you normally don't get to do, but make it special so that you look forward to it, like reading for pure pleasure, taking a nap or having a really special meal.

Q: What are some ways we can unplug? How do we get our families to turn off their social media one day a week?

As I mention in the previous answer, first try baby steps. Try unplugging for a few hours to get your feet wet. Then try to expand it. The other way is to try to turn off all notifications and put your phones away in drawers so they are not out luring you to come play with them.

Here is another idea: Schedule a fun activity that doesn't involve electronics like a card game or board game.

Q: Why Americans find it so hard to actually use their vacation days?

Americans pride themselves on hard work and the first reaction to getting things done is to just put in more hours. The problem is that more hours worked doesn't equal greater output or better results.

Q: You also mentioned that science is backing our need to take a weekly, and yearly, break. Tell us more.

There are 200 footnotes in my book and that is after I took out dozens because my editor told me I wasn't writing a scientific paper. The research is clear, working and being connected 24/7 is bad for our health, mental health, productivity, creativity, problem solving and our relationships.

Q: What are the spiritual and physical benefits of taking a "hard break"?

You will be healthier both physically and mentally. However, the more important reason for taking a hard break is that when you create space that isn't dominated by the noise of work, your cellphone and social media, larger questions will emerge. How am I living my life? What is my relationship with God? What is important and what isn't?

These questions can be tough, but they lead to a meaningful and fulfilled life.


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