How do you feel when you wake up every morning?
Are you tired, longing for another hour of sleep, or are you energized and excited for the new day’s possibilities?
The attitude you possess when you start the day affects you much more than any cup of coffee ever will.
Take a moment to think back to when you were a little kid. You weren’t excited to get up and go to school Monday morning, so it was hard to get out of bed regardless of how much sleep you got the night before.
But on Christmas morning, it didn’t matter if you got eight hours of sleep (which is never the case) or one hour of sleep—you were up and ready to go with a huge smile on your face. You had a single, exciting thought planted in your brain—Open as many presents as I can get my hands on.
Somewhere along the way, though, we seem to lose that child-like Christmas morning enthusiasm that kept us up late and woke us up early. Wouldn’t you like to have it back, and not just on Christmas morning? What if that energy and enthusiasm could translate to an average day in your life?
The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day. – Henry Ward Beecher
By starting the each morning focused, the overarching vision you have for your life will become much clearer, real, and achievable. Here are four things you can do every morning to get your day started off on the right foot.
1. Start with Gratitude
No day is guaranteed. Every new day you are given the opportunity to start is a gift. When you view it that way, more chances, opportunities, and unexpected privileges present themselves.
When you start your day with gratitude, you arm yourself against whatever negativity the next 24 hours might have in store for you. Problems will seem smaller, challenges will seem less difficult, and the good things will shine even brighter.
How do you go about creating this sense of gratitude?
Begin operating under the very real concept that this day could be your last. You will develop an intense sense of urgency and gratitude from your first waking moment.
“Live this day as if it were your last” may be the oldest cliché in existence, but there’s a reason why—if you can make it part of your everyday mindset, your days will absolutely not be the same again.
That’s where most people get it wrong. They hear “live this day as if it were your last” and immediately begin making a mental list of all the actions they would begin taking. But it’s not about action. It’s not about going skydiving or blowing off your day job. It’s about mind-set. It is a way of thinking that keeps you focused on the things that truly matter in life and nothing else.
And it will keep your thoughts in a place of gratitude like nothing else can.
2. Act the way you would like to feel.
If you don’t feel happy or energetic, start by simply acting like you do. William James, the father of modern psychology, has a quote I love: “We do not sing because we are happy; we are happy because we sing.”
Emotion follows action. It’s not the other way around.
Keep that quote in mind any time you wake up feeling grumpy, tired, or any other type of negative emotion. Jump up and down. Turn on music that you know puts you in a good mood. Smile. Laugh. They may feel forced at first, but the genuine ones are sure to follow.
3. Meditate on the things you know need to happen today.
Use these two questions to prioritize every task on your to-do list:
- What’s important now?
- What’s next?
These two questions will wake you up early, keep you up late, and allow you to stay focused on your top priorities and nothing else. Forget all the elaborate to-do list systems that are out there. These two little questions are all you need.
You will no longer waste time by sitting around wondering where you should start. Look at your list of tasks, address each item with these two questions, and then move forward on each one with massive action.
4. Go to bed in the mood in which you would like to wake up.
The reality is that no one actually wakes up on the wrong side of the bed—we actually go to sleep on the wrong side of the bed. Your subconscious mind plays an enormous role in determining how you feel in the morning.
If you go to bed full of anger and negativity, you are probably not going to wake up in anything resembling a good mood. How do you combat this? By not only doing every previous item on this list when you wake up, but also right before bed.
Think about all you have to be grateful for, put yourself in a positive mental state, and start preparing a mental plan for the next day. Read or watch something positive and inspiring. The morning may be the rudder of the day, but night is the rudder of the morning.
“Never go to bed angry” may sound like something your mom or a marriage counselor would say, but there is tremendous truth behind that piece of advice.
When you start each day with focus, life and purpose become clearer. Precious time is no longer squandered on avoidable drag-you-down activities or tasks. Focus allows you to understand the value offered with each and every passing minute. Apply these four actions, or add them to your current routine, and you will be amazed by the results.
What are your tips on how to start the day? Please share in the comments.
About the author:
Robert D. Smith is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting, a crash course in living each day with maximum intensity and purpose. He blogs about personal growth, entrepreneurship, and more at TheRobertD.com.
Image: African Pygmy Hedgehog