Hello, all. And good morning. Mornings, and how we use them to prepare for the day ahead, really are a fundamental aspect of achieving consistent success. Today I want to share with you some thoughts concerning how to incorporate into your daily routine a morning ritual that will energize and center you in the early hours, so that you can make of the rest of the day all that you can.
“For what human ill does not dawn seem to be alleviation?” – Thornton Wilder
“Morning is when the wick is lit. A flame ignited, the day delighted with heat and light, we start the fight for something more than before.” – Jeb Dickerson
There is, at the outset, an interesting duality about the phenomenon of mornings, in that they represent both an ending and a beginning. When we awaken from our slumber, we know, with some sense of finality, that the day which came before and came to an end with our falling asleep is, indeed, completely over and done with. It is therefore incumbent upon us to recognize that, no matter how that day ended – in quiet contentment, in bitter sadness, in frantic worry – we cannot allow the events of the past to dictate how we will act going forward. The past is over, done with – and the morning is a nice time to reaffirm our place in the here and now. (Always remember – no matter what has transpired in the past, remind yourself on occasion, “It is what it is.”)
Of course, part and parcel with this is the exciting and optimistic prospect that, though the old day has passed away, a new one now stretches before us, replete with unlimited, undifferentiated potential. The day is ours – to seize and make of it what we will. But we must make the conscious choice to do so. And one of the best ways to prime our conscious engagement with the day ahead is with a morning ritual that is based around the undeniable truism that how we start our day often sets the tone for that day. With neither regret for the past nor fear of the future, make your morning a primer for a successful day.
“The light of a new day always chases the shadows of the night away, and shows us that the shape of our fears is only the ghost of our own minds.” – Terry Goodkind
“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” – J. B. Priestley
But one cannot receive any of the benefits of a morning ritual if they don’t wake up early enough to actually enjoy the morning – or if they wake up in a frantic rush because they haven’t set aside the early hours for a time of quiet contemplation and rejuvenating centering. And so, the first component of a productive and healthy morning ritual becomes clear: be an early riser. Be sure to give yourself at least a half-hour in advance of whatever the requirements of your job/career/family obligations/etc. demand of you. So, for example, if you need to leave the house at 7:30 to drive your kids to school and you spend the half-hour before that getting them ready to go, set your alarm to wake up at 6:30, so that you will have sufficient time to fully enjoy the activities described below.
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin
“The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all the hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer… When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.” – Terri Guillemets
Having afforded yourself some quiet time in the early morning, try to spend it centering yourself and clearing your mind for the day ahead. It really is worth noting that the course of your day can be greatly improved by ensuring you have a balanced mindset with which you approach the problems of the day, and this starts in the morning. A simple practice can help you in fostering this mindset: meditation. Find a quiet, private location, where you can free yourself of distractions (such as that ubiquitous fixture of modern society, the cell phone), and simply spend some time sitting, breathing deeply, and letting your thoughts come and go without dwelling on them or judging them. Just be. (You may find that a soothing, hot beverage, such as tea or coffee, may be a nice touch to add to a serene atmosphere.)
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra
“What’s encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we’re closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.” – Pema Chodron
With your mind in a state of readiness, presence, and alertness to the day before you, one additional component of your morning ritual can help you further energize your creative and productive possibilities for the day ahead. Having allowed your mind a bit of time for contemplation and clearing of clutter, keep a journal to help you keep track of your ideas, your inspiration, your concerns, your desires – all the rich details of your inner life will make a useful sort of ‘guide’ for your ambitions when committed to paper.
“Once a day… call yourselves to account what new ideas, what new proposition of truth you have gained, what further confirmation of known truths, and what advances you have made in any part of knowledge.” – Isaac Watts
“The starting point of discovering who you are, your gifts, your talents, your dreams, is being comfortable with yourself. Spend time alone. Write in a journal. Take long walks in the woods.” – Robin S. Sharma
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg
And there you have it – a simple but powerful morning routine that, if followed every day, can help you face each new day with a grounded and centered mindset. You can, of course, tinker with your own routine and try different things – like, say, getting in some morning exercise, doing some morning reading, listening to peaceful or empowering music… Whatever works for you in your life, try to make a part of a consistent, daily routine.
And never forget – your day is what you choose t o make of it. Make it a good one.