No matter how you feel upon waking, the first hour of your morning will set the tone for the rest of your day. We’ve already shown you five morning habits that will boost your happiness and improve your day. If you’re ready to up the ante even more, here are four more ways to conquer your mornings and pave the way for a productive day.
1. Express gratitude
Happiness has been expressed as the state in which you want the things you have. But in this era of having what you want when you want it, we’ve found ourselves with more things and less happiness. So happiness today is a practice and discipline. What better time to practice than your magic hour? To clarify, I refer to my first waking hour as “The Magic Hour,” because if I take ownership of it, the sum of my day is nothing short of miraculous. You’ll come to find that when you make sacrifices and own the first hour of your day, you own your whole life.
I’ve noticed that the more thankful I am for employment, the better opportunities come around. When I am grateful for my responsibilities, I have greater joy in the privileges that I earn. When I’m grateful for the bed I sleep in and the roof over my head, I am rewarded with good sleep and a satisfied home life. When I take time to think of my friends and family, and all the joy they bring into my life, I appreciate them more and experience more profound connection.
If you want to master happiness, make a list, mental or otherwise, of the things you could not function without. Then make a list of the things that add that special touch to your day. Do the same for areas that you have worked really hard and have experienced success in. Ditto for the things you hope to accomplish. Then go back and practice wanting and appreciating all of those things with a receptive mind and heart. Feel the gratitude pouring out of you for the things that make your life worth living. What you give in terms of gratitude you will receive threefold back in happiness and richness of living.
2. Practice a moving meditation
Practicing a moving meditation allows you to kinesthetically feel all of the happiness and momentum you have built up in your magic hour. Coupling movement with meditation creates another dimension of your neural network of success. Much like smiling, you can turn to your yoga, tai chi, dance, or whatever it is you do for a boost in times of stress.
I find that doing tai chi each morning helps me to feel the success I’ve built and to channel it into my health and physical realm. Practicing tai chi, along with my other morning rituals, helps me feel like a more complete person: body, mind, spirit, and emotion.
Since all of our parts are interconnected, movement will help you to understand your emotions and your mind more clearly. This is one reason that marathoners love doing what they do — they can connect to a deeper spiritual and mental place through the vehicle of their bodies.
The physical act of writing down your emotions and thoughts has been proven to decrease stress and anxiety. Writing helps you to clarify your emotional and mental realms, and it also serves to make your ideas concrete and actionable.
When I see an idea or goal of mine on paper, I know that it can be accomplished. If I leave that same idea in my head, that thought can be surrounded by a bunch of make believe, like, “You can’t do it” or “Chyeahhh.” (I have a surfer dude in my head.) When I see those same thoughts on paper, I physically see my goal without any other mental confusion.
Journaling also helps enhance your memory. Writing down your goals physically, much like a moving meditation, serves to diversify your neural networks and increase the likelihood of you making your ideas happen.
4. Do what you love
Aside from the discipline of loving what you do, it’s important to do something you would do just for the fun of it. I love listening to classical music, so when I take a shower I crank up Liszt and Chopin and get lost in dreamy melodies. I also love writing, so I’ll indulge in sharpening my craft and exploring new ideas that excite me. I also love reading, and I’m fortunate that my work requires me to read what I love. So, I extend my magic hour by another hour and get learned, as Mark Twain would say.
When I do the things I love, I’m reminded that my wants, needs, and happiness are important and that when I give freely to myself, I have so much more to give to others. We’ve become so convinced that life is about what others want us to do (our bosses, parents, coworkers, institutional leaders, governments, etc.) that we’ve forgotten the point of life, which is to do what we love and to serve others while we’re at it.
Taking some time in the morning to do what you love will remind you of who you are and why you live in the first place. It will give you greater appreciation of the man or woman you are and motivation to excel in your responsibilities so you can have more time to do what you love.
The idea is to eventually make the things you love your work and career. When you do that, you can extend the magic hour all across the board for a magic day, and a magic life. But first thing is first: Make the most of your first hour, and set the stage for your greatest happiness and success. You can do it.