5 Things You Should Try to Do Every Morning
If you’re anything like me, you don’t always wake up with sunshine and rainbows coming out of your eyes and ears. But no matter how you feel upon waking, the first hour of your morning will set the tone for the rest of your day. No matter how you feel, you have the power to change your thoughts, your focus, and the outcome of your day. Picking up a routine for the first hour of your day will dramatically improve your mental state and the outcome of your day.
I call my first waking hour “The Magic Hour,” because if I take ownership of it, the sum of my day is nothing short of miraculous. But as Thomas Edison said, “Pshaw! There’s nothing magical about it. It’s good hard work that does it.” 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 come to embrace the struggle of owning my mornings, and I can help you to do the same.
Here are five challenges for each morning that will increase your resilience, courage, happiness, and success.
Even if smiling is the last thing you feel like doing, cheese it up as wide as you can. Then, when you feel the lead weights pulling at the corners of your mouth, think happy thoughts. Like Peter Pan and his Teddy Bear, your happy thoughts will lift your spirits and your smile. We all know that feeling happy will make you smile, but it has been scientifically proven that you can reverse engineer happiness by smiling. It has to do with your neural networks and how they are wired. Since smiling is so heavily associated with feeling positive, those neural connections will offer you a boost of happiness regardless of how you feel.
Think about your achievements and smile. Think about your loved ones and smile. Think about your recent break throughs and smile. Think about what you’ll accomplish and smile. Think about smiling and smile. Since happiness is a choice, choosing to be happy in your first ten minutes will make the choice easier for the rest of your day.
2. Keep away from electronics
Since life is about the choices you make, it’s much easier to live the life of your dreams when you take your directives from you. For the first hour of your day, steer clear of all external directives like phones, TV’s, radios, computers, etc.
Consciously choosing not to engage with email and texts and external data first thing in the morning will help you to hear your own voice throughout the day. The thing about your life is that nobody knows how to live it besides you. If you take your directive from external sources to navigate your day, you will be living the life of someone else while your calling slips away.
This may be the hardest part of your day because we have become so reliant on a constant stream of data; it’s almost like we want to drown out our inner voices to make life more convenient. Your inner voice has directives that seem ridiculous, dangerous, embarrassing, scary, and unrealistic, so it can be hard to listen to. But if you aren’t following your own voice, then you aren’t living your own life. Following your inner voice takes no small amount of courage and fortitude, but there is no other way to live your life.
By consciously refusing external directives at the beginning of your day, you are sharpening the ability to hear your intuition and intelligence. By focusing on what is inside of you, you’ll become aware of specific feelings that drive your day. So instead of feeling a vague dread or fog, you can discover that you feel constricted, or frightened, or hurt, or anxious about something. When you discover specific feelings you can tune into the needs behind them and do what you can to change the outcome of your day. Spending the first 20 minutes to an hour of your day discovering the working of your inner world will increase your resilience, security, and sense of purpose throughout the entire day.
3. Control your breathing
Too often throughout our days we find ourselves breaking away from busyness to gasp for some air. When we get weighed down by all that must be done and the anxiety of perhaps not accomplishing it, breathing becomes the last thing on our minds. Yet breathing is what sustains our focus and attention, so it’s imperative to be conscious of it.
From the moment you wake and for the first 20 minutes of your day, practice deep diaphragmatic breathing. This practice has been proven to enhance focus, immunity, blood oxygen content, and numerous markers of health while lowering depression and anxiety.
Practicing deep breathing first thing in the morning will make it an automatic practice that you can come back to in times of stress and anxiety. Focusing on your breath is the same as focusing on life. You are here to live, so make the breath of life a morning routine that will define the rest of your day.
4. Set goals
Once you’ve established a positive attitude and focus with your breathing, shift your focus to the day ahead. Focus on what you need to do, what you’d like to do, how you want to do it, and the resources you’ll need to accomplish it.
Unmet needs that we aren’t aware of can be the biggest haze throughout our days, lingering over our heads and clouding our effectiveness and judgment. When you set goals and identify needs and wants you give yourself a purpose that you can come back to at any point throughout the day. Setting goals starts momentum that will carry you through the day when things get tough.
5. Love yourself
There is an idiosyncrasy that I’m blown away by. We can go above and beyond to make our friends feel warm and appreciated, but when it comes to our own selves, we might as well be chopped liver. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard frustrated friends of passerbyers mutter under their breaths, “I can’t believe I was so stupid…I’m such an idiot…What a screw-up!” Since we must spend the rest of our lives with ourselves, it makes sense to cultivate respect, encouragement, admiration, appreciation and friendship with ourselves.
How we talk to ourselves determines the tone of our day as well as the affect we have on others. So if you want your momentum to go upward and forward into a joyful day, give yourself a pep talk. Look into the mirror each morning and tell yourself what you like about yourself, how proud you are of your accomplishments, the goodness you see inside, and the unlimited potential you see for achievement. Whatever you are struggling with, make sure to let yourself know that you will get through it and that you are here for yourself. This may seem a little crazy, but if you don’t have your back, who will?
Since our society operates on shame as a primary fuel, it is important to remind yourself of your worthiness. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how worthy, how valuable, how beautiful, how capable, how confident, and how needed you are. Practice accepting the mistakes you’ve made while fully believing in your capacity to improve your actions. Shame says, “You messed up because you are a mess up.” Courage says, “I messed up, but I know that I can do better and better if I focus hard and give it my all. I am worthy.”
Once you set the tone of your inner monologue with a healthy face to face in the morning, all of your thoughts throughout the day will pass through a positive filter. You will find yourself with greater resilience, more positivity, more hope, and more of you to share with others.
Keep an eye out for part two of this series.