When you get up in the morning, think of what a priceless privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to learn, to love – and then make the day count!
The morning is extremely important. It is the foundation from which the day is built. How you choose to spend your morning can be used to predict what kind of day you are going to have, and thus, what kind of life you are going to live.
Each morning truly is a brand new opportunity. Each day is another chance to get it right.
The happiest, healthiest people I know embrace this truth and use it to their advantage. They have effective morning rituals that gradually improve their well-being and give their lives purpose. Here’s what they do differently:
1. They wake up with a sense of gratitude.
In other words, they start the day with love in their hearts and minds, and are truly appreciative of their life and all of its priceless idiosyncrasies. They practice small acts of gratitude in the morning by expressing thankfulness directly to the people they care about, and to the immediate circumstances (health, opportunities, etc.) they could so easily take for granted.
From the research and coaching Angel and I have done over the years, we’ve found that the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic. Bottom line: Consider how very fortunate you are. Consider it every morning. The more you count your blessings, the more blessings there will be to count, and the happier you will be.
2. They begin anew.
They know it’s a brand new day to start over and do something different. Yesterday may have been a complete bummer for them, but today is a new day for learning, success and adventure. Realize this. Live now. Not before. Not later. Just NOW – in the moment you’re in.
Inhabit your morning completely. Don’t rent it out to the past. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of yesterday’s circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape the rest of this day. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality and embrace the truth of your greatness. (Read The Book of Awakening.)
3. They use self-inquiry to affirm a purposeful start to the day.
Steve Jobs’ morning routine used to start by looking in the mirror and asking, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And Benjamin Franklin asked himself each morning, “What good shall I do today?” I challenge you to come up with questions that keep you on track and push you to live a purposeful life. Here are three questions I often ask myself:
- What would I like to remember about today?
- How will I sincerely honor my own desires and truth today?
- What can I do to make a positive difference in the lives around me today?
4. They read something positive.
Some happy people read a bit of scripture each morning, while others read inspiring books, articles or quotes to get their day started. Either way, they have a ritual to read some form of self-improvement literature to stretch and grow their insight and knowledge. It’s starts their day off on a positive note with positive, productive ideas to guide their day’s journey.
And that’s crucial, because in life you often have to create your own sunshine. So read something positive every morning when you wake up, and let it inspire you to do something positive before you go back to sleep at night. That’s how memorable days are made. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Inspiration” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
5. They follow an effective morning routine.
Happy, healthy people know that morning routines are critically important. They help you focus and build momentum for your day, and they give you the freedom to be present and relaxed – to enjoy just being right where you are each moment, rather than rushing from somewhere to somewhere.
Once you get your routine in order, for the first time in a long time, you will be able to, quite literally, smell the coffee. For truly easy-going mornings, reduce the number of decisions you must make. There are two simple ways to do this:
First, make your big morning decisions the night before: what to eat for breakfast, what clothes to wear, what you need to take to work, etc.
Second, build a simple routine for as much of your daily morning tasks as possible.
Really, there’s no need to drastically alter the simple things like how much time you give yourself to get ready for work, how complex of a meal you make for breakfast, or bathroom and shower rituals from one morning to the next.
6. They give themselves enough time to eat a wholesome breakfast.
You can’t possibly have a happy, healthy day if you feed your body garbage first thing in the morning. Period. Your body is a temple. You are what you eat. So do not eat processed food, fast food, and all the filth the big processed food companies try to pass off as “healthy.”
Does it take ten extra minutes to prepare a wholesome breakfast? Yes it does. Is it worth it? Yes it is! Most foods that you don’t have to prepare manually statically cause sickness, cancer, and disease. Do they taste good? Sure. It’s all well-seasoned, pre-packaged poison. This is why so many people are sick – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually – because they are hooked to the taste of poison, instead of being hooked on the truth and to real foods that heal and provide the human body with good health and wellness. Don’t make this mistake. Fuel your body properly first thing every morning. (Read 100 Days of Real Food.)
7. They move on gracefully to what’s most important.
As human beings, we are goal oriented. We like making progress. When we accomplish one of our goals, we smile about it. That’s why the happiest people I know are also some of the most successful people I know.
And success is not something you have; it’s something you DO. It’s something you experience when you wake up and act accordingly. So let your first hour set the theme of proactivity and success that is certain to echo through your entire day. The key is to focus your attention first thing in the morning on the right things. Why? Because at some point we all wonder, “Why is it so impossible to get everything done?” But the answer is stunningly simple: We’re doing too many of the wrong things.
Several research studies have shown that people never get more done by blindly working more hours on everything that comes up. Instead, they get more done when they follow careful plans that measure and track key priorities and milestones. So if you want to be more successful, less stressed, and a lot happier at the end of a long day, don’t ask how to make something more efficient until you’ve first asked, “Do I need to do this at all?” Simply being able to do something well does not make it the right thing to do. I think this is one of the most common problems with a lot of time-management advice; too often productivity gurus focus on how to do things quickly, but the vast majority of things people do quickly should not be done at all.
Angel and I have our alarm set to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams. For us, it’s impossible to not smile when this song plays. This, combined with the other rituals above, set the tone for a productive, happy and healthy day.
The floor is yours…
So what about you? What helps you start the day off right? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
By Marc Chernoff
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