Ten, eleven, twelve. I get to the top of the staircase, say a short prayer and brace myself for the greeting that I am about to receive as I open the door. Every morning it's the same as I arrive at the Eating Disorder clinic where I work. "Elana, either you conquer them, or they will conquer you." I call my work "kodesh" holy as I muster all the strength I have to greet my students with a smile and cheerful, "Good morning".

Either you conquer them, or they will conquer youWhy does it take so much energy? Well, one reason is because I know that when I walk in, I will meet blank faces, laptop screens, and cell phones that form barriers between me and my students. A life-less crowd can be more than just a little bit discouraging. Second, it's hard work, to be a teacher, to teach women going through so many struggles and who live in a time of so much confusion. And yet, day after day I continue as I try to shift the distorted focus of these women from their bodies to their beautiful souls. Either I conquer them, or they conquer me. No matter what happened yesterday I remind myself, "today is a new day, walk in with a positive attitude and a smile."

It's eight o'clock at night, my children are asleep. I am sitting down after a long day to work on the computer. I'm in the middle of an important e-mail. I hear the soft knock, the key in the door. I know it's my husband. I force myself to peel my fingers away from the keyboard and stand-up. I turn as he enters and find the smile, the cheerful voice, "Hi!" Ten years of marriage and I make an effort to greet my husband the same way as I did the first month we were married. Why? Because I call my marriage "kadosh" holy. That means that for five minutes I can put my work, or the phone call, etc. on hold. Those things can wait, the opportunity for my husband to come home, can't. Either I conquer them, or they conquer me.

There is a section in the Shulchan Aruch, the main codification of Jewish law compiled by the 16th-century rabbi, Rav Joseph Caro, entitled Orach Chaim (The Direction of Life). The Orach Chaim deals with everyday matters of Jewish law. The very first halacha (law) tells us that one should arise in the morning like a mighty lion to serve one's Creator and that one should wake up the early dawn. I always thought that the wording of the end of this law was a little bit funny and then my husband elucidated it for me, "You wake up the morning, don't let the morning wake you up!" That's right, here we go again, either I conquer the morning, or it conquers me. Either I wake up like a mighty lion ready to serve my Creator and do holy acts; or the lion of despair, discouragement, routine, or lack of appreciation will be the one to wake me up.

I can't begin to count how many times I put this idea into practice throughout my day. It always seems to throw everyone a bit off balance-in my favor. The checkout lady at the cashier who I smile to and greet before I start handing over my groceries, the repair man who comes to fix the faucet, for the 3rd time this month, and of course my children, as they walk through the door or as I pick them up from school. I am able to conquer all these people, bad moods, bills, tantrums, you name it before they conquer me with a smile, a cheerful voice, and with a vision that says that by doing this, what I am doing is kadosh, holy.

Ten years of marriage and I make an effort to greet my husband the same way as I did the first month we were marriedThis is also why my favorite prayer of the day is the mincha prayer. There are three times in the day set for formalized prayer-morning, afternoon, and evening (The beauty of prayer in general is that you don't need any intermediary between you and G‑d, no Skype, no chat, no cell phone, no leader; just you and Him. A Jew can speak and pour his heart out to G‑d at any time of the day or night in an informal manner.)

The prayer that is considered the most significant is that afternoon prayer, mincha. Mincha is also the shortest of the three; it's in the middle of the day when you are being asked to drop what you are doing to take a few minutes of your time to reconnect and remember what is most important, most holy.

I'll never forget as I was sitting in the barber shop waiting as Asher, the barber, cut my son's hair. The hour was 3:05 pm. A customer walked in the door. Asher told him, I can't help you now. After I finish with the boy I'm going to mincha. If you want, you can come back at 3:45 pm. The man was furious and walked out the door. Asher just shrugged his shoulders and looked at his reflection in the mirror. "What does he think? I'm going to miss mincha?" At that moment I knew without a doubt that my son's barber was a holy man cutting hair with a holy purpose. Either you conquer them, or they conquer you….