“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama
Last week, I shared a little bit about my resistance to starting a morning ritual and the benefits I’ve experienced since starting one. (Missed it? Click here)
A morning ritual is one of those things most of us have heard about and maybe even thought about starting, but getting around to the doing part often stops us.
Where do we start? What should we include? How long? How much?
So many questions.
Or, like so many ideas we hear about, we make up stories about why it works for “successful” people but won’t for us. Besides, we’re busy. And tired.
So we quit before we start.
For many of us, a morning ritual gets lumped into the same pile that exercise does - we know it’s good for us, but it’s daunting. We say we'll start...tomorrow.
Just like exercise, a morning routine isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just like exercise, it’s about finding the rituals you like, will actually do, and stick with.
Hate affirmations? Don’t add them to your morning ritual!
Love singing, but don't think that counts? Oh, it does! It also packs a powerful punch to your day. (Read about the benefits of singing in the morning here.)
Point is, there is no "supposed to do" or "correct" morning ritual.
You can make it your own and create it to fit your personality and lifestyle.
Ready to dip your toe into the morning ritual waters?
10 Ways to Start Your Morning Off On The Right Side of the Bed
1. Your morning ritual really starts the night before. Getting a good night’s sleep, creating an evening ritual, and setting the intention to do your morning ritual ensures you'll actually do it. Set a date with yourself for the morning, the night before. Daren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect, argues that a person's morning and evening routines are the "bookends" of a successful life.
2. Avoid technology (yes, this includes Facebook). This one sounds easy, but I find it to be one of the hardest parts of my morning ritual. There are multiple books and articles stating that many of the ultra successful avoid checking their email like the plague first thing in the morning. Checking email, texts, and social media upon waking can send us into a stress, must-do-now-spiral, shifting our focus, and wreaking havoc on our most productive hours of the day.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Simply taking a few minutes to savor the moment and reflect can calm you before your day starts. Besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day ;).
4. Write out your goals for the day. What are three things you would like to accomplish today? This creates intention and focus. This doesn't mean you won't get more done in the day, only that these are your priority. (Read more here.)
5. Take time to be thankful. Write down three things you’re grateful for. I mention gratitude over and over for good reason. It’s one of the proven ways we can boost our happiness. Daily gratitude trains our brain to look for the good things in life. With practice, we can actually start to rewire our brain and combat our pesky negativity bias.
6. Get your sweat on! The benefits of exercise for our mind + body are massive - from making us happier, reducing stress, and alleviating anxiety, to giving us the energy to get more done and tap into our creativity. For me, adding exercise to my morning routine guarantees I don't skip it, and I benefit from the endorphin high all morning long.
7. Meditate. The benefits of meditation are also endless, including better focus and reduced anxiety. While meditation is beneficial at all times of the day, “...there is science that the mind is quieter for most people when we first awaken in the morning, plus we are less likely to fall back asleep, so that is an easier time to meditate. Additionally, meditating in the morning lays a good foundation for your outlook and mood for the whole day,” says Rick Hanson, Ph. D. and New York Times best-selling author, on his blog.
8. Journal or brain dump. Research has linked journaling to benefits that range from reducing stress to removing mental blocks. I love The Artist’s Way's take on this, Morning Pages, "Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning."
9. Set an intention for the day. How would you like to feel today? What would make today a great day? This allows us to start our day consciously. On purpose. Not merely reacting.
10. Visualize. Visualization is a technique many athletes and successful people use. There are many ways to visualize. To start, try closing your eyes and imagining a specific part of your day going well. See it in as much detail as possible. What does it look like? What do you hear? What do you say? What is said to you? What do you do? How do you react? The magic lies in the specificity.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Anything goes here. The fun in this is to play around and create a ritual that works for YOU.
When we take even five minutes for ourselves to start our day off with intention and focus, we set ourselves up for success. We take control and begin to live our lives on purpose.
If nothing else, we give ourselves some important me-time before the avalanche of our day begins.