Upon reading about the habits of successful people and those of happy people, I realized that many of them seem tailored to morning people, who’re up at the crack o’ dawn, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Get up early, follow a (insert healthy regime here), exercise, then integrate a “power hour” and do what’s most important first (not most urgent, as we’re mislead into believing by our productivity-driven society).
Although I certainly appreciate the arguments made in favour of getting a head start and doing all the right “setting rituals” for your day before you get started, it always seems to me like I’m short of time.
I’m a far cry from a morning person.
I’ve always loved the evening as my time to feel most alive, reflective and productive. I find it challenging to go to bed really early (anytime before 10 p.m. makes me feel like an Olympian in training or like a card-holding senior citizen, not sure which one) and to rise with the sun. I work best by moonlight and the night’s sounds comfort me. I’m not up until 2-3 a.m. by any means, but nighttime rhymes with bliss for me. Perhaps it has to do with being a night baby.
Weekday mornings are perpetually cruel to me; they are rushed, they feel unnatural and doing for others when I get up just isn’t part of my genetic makeup. I need to wake-up to myself before I can do so for the world. Which leaves me in a state of bewildered numbness on most mornings. This isn’t to say I’m grumpy or don’t appreciate the feeling of novelty with each new day or how fresh it feels in my mind and body.
Because in practical terms, when I wake to my natural rhythm and move at my pace, I usually rise before 9 a.m. anyway and enjoy morning rituals that usually involve coffee or tea, breakfast, stretching or yoga and reading. I apply the concept of the power hour instinctively, provided I don’t have too early a deadline by which I must leave the house.
So how can I adopt any of the tried and true habits of happy and successful people? Here’s what I found… Those two groups intersected in funny little areas like gratitude, mindset and mindfulness (or presence – aka living in the now).
I decided that if I wasn’t going to rise to a rooster’s song or hit the gym with the conviction and excitement deployed in a game of whack-a-mole, I should consider, smaller, long lasting, Jedi mind tricks. In any case, those have powerful effects almost immediately.
I decided to change three small things about my routine, from the moment I wake, to the moment I arrive to the office. My mornings played out like this. I woke up to an abrasive alarm, which I cursed in my head (and sometimes aloud). I snoozed until holy-crap-I-need-to-run o’clock. My anti-hero workout consisted of running to get out the door; forgetting my lunch, not making coffee, swearing that I’d change my ways – especially when I’d see the bus zoom by the end of my street without me on it. I’d curse the cold or the fact that I had to walk to a bus stop. I also dreaded my bus ride to the office because if I wasn’t standing among strangers way too close for comfort, I was roasting because the air was hot and stale.
How do those mornings sound to you? Awesome, right? You want to sign up for my life, don’t you? Well, I didn’t want to sign up for that either.
I started making my lunches the night before a few months ago and prepping my mini Keurig before bed. I lay out my clothes so I don’t have to think. All my essentials are in my purse, which is next to the clothes I throw on in my limited brain capacity.
Ok, that’s sort of cheating because they’re not a morning rituals… they’re evening rituals. As my partner would say: “I’m helping future Mercedes”. *Time-space-five!*
So what about my mad a.m. sprint did I change?
My 3 Morning Rituals For Mindfulness
The first thing I decided to do is to thank the Universe for something I’m happy to wake up to. Often, it’s my cuddly honey. Other times, it’s the comfy bed I slept in or the fun dreams I had. That means I start my day with gratitude, which shapes how I see the day’s events AND the power of a positive emotion exceeds that of a negative emotion.
Then, when I walk to my bus, I breathe from my belly, all the while thanking this opportunity (however cold it is) for fresh air. Focusing on my breathing and the present moment allows me to be grounded and practice mindfulness. Lastly, instead of dreading the bus, I use at least 5 minutes of my 20-min bus ride to meditate.
No… I don’t sit in lotus and om to the motor and traffic sounds. I simply close my eyes and visualize my breath as a source of light. I usually use the first 5 minutes as my daily reiki practice.
3-Holding a Happy Feeling
Then I try to either review something that makes me happy in the moment – a fact about my life. Or, alternatively, I visualize a positive outcome to something that’s been weighing on my mind. Rather, I picture myself feeling good about an outcome, if the solution hasn’t formed yet.
In essence, I’ve removed the self-defeating mindsets from my morning routine, which we know sets the tone for our day. Some changes don’t have to be big to have a great impact. I don’t aim for perfection, I only aim for progress.
How will you change your morning ritual?