Remember to be grateful
By nature, we are selfish beings and we get offended easily. It’s also very easy for us to start and focus on all the negative things in life. When we do this, we tend to forget about all the good things. We lose perspective and dwell on the few things that aren’t great and completely forget about the things that make life totally worth it.
To rectify this destructive behavior, we actively need to reprogram our minds to focus more on the good things in life. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, from writing a physical gratitude list, to actually going to the people who you are grateful for and verbalizing it. Whatever your personality, the fact remains that you need to be mindful of the good things.
When you harbor ill feelings towards other people, your mind becomes consumed by the injustice that has been done to you. So much so that it becomes very difficult to focus on anything else. You end up wasting so much time and energy on something that you might not be able to change.
On the contrary, when you keep focused on the positive things, you allow your mind to let go of the resentment you feel towards someone else and you tend to be able to concentrate more. The best benefit by far, however, is the weight that you take off your shoulders. You feel less stressed and the world doesn’t seem to wear you down so easily. The faster you get into the habit of paying attention to the good things in your life, the faster you will realize that your life is actually not that bad.
For most people, regular exercise is probably one of the most difficult habits to get into. It’s quite understandable, seeing that most people already feel tired when they wake up. Now you want to add something to the routine that actually makes you more tired? There is a definite paradox for sure because how is something that is intended to make you tired, supposed to give you energy? The answer is in the way your body is designed.
When you aren’t exercising, your body is programmed to store energy and keep it just in case you need it at some point or another. It’s basically like an idling car. It uses just enough energy to keep running. When you exercise though, it is as if you press down on the accelerator and your body starts to burn more fuel. The result is that you become energized. What’s more is that exercise also releases endorphins which is a natural drug your body excretes to make you feel good.
As you exercise in the morning, you involuntarily take in more oxygen which boosts your brain activity and allows you to focus. Some research has shown that exercising in the morning does a better job of waking you up, than that morning coffee that you can’t seem to go without. It also enhances your metabolism which enables you to digest your breakfast faster and replenish the energy that you just used.
Lastly, when you exercise in the morning, your body craves good food and inhibits your craving for fatty and sugary foods. These types of food give you a quick boost because they release all their energy at once. Instead, your body now opts for food that releases its energy at a constant rate throughout the day.
Write in a Journal
You may have decided to start a journal but you are then faced with the reality that you don’t really know where to begin. Mornings are often the best time to write in a journal as it helps to set your day off on the right note. Here are a few tips on what you could write about:
You could begin by writing about how you slept the night before and about your dreams if you remember any. You could then write about how you are feeling and what mood you are in. What is currently on your mind is important to you as a person and it helps to write it down.
You may write down a simple list of what you intend to do for the day. You can write about what you are looking forward to doing and how this day will be different from the one before. You can also make a note of who you would like to see and talk to during the day.
Your journal may also be used to record things that have had an impact on you, whether this is a poem, a quote, an article or even an idea to which you can relate. Your journal is the ideal place to write these down so you can reflect on them. It is important to define what you want to put in your journal so that it has the most relevance for you.
Reduce your Morning Choices
Perhaps you enjoy spending time trying on different clothes before you decide what to wear. You like deciding what you want to eat on the spur of the moment from a variety of different possibilities. If you have lots of time on your hands, this isn’t a problem but if you don’t, it’s better to conserve your energy to spend on other more important choices you have to make during the day.
Take a leaf out of the book of Barack Obama, who wore only blue or grey suits while he was president because he felt he had too many other decisions he had to make. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, has a similar philosophy and believes that simplifying choices of what to wear etc. gives you more time to think about your next creative idea than about the color of your shirt.
This does not mean that you don’t care about what you wear or what you eat. No – it means planning ahead of time and making certain decisions that simplify choice. You can come up with a few simple daily breakfast meals that include the necessary protein, healthy fat, fiber and unrefined carbohydrates. You will know exactly what you’re going to eat every day for breakfast without having to spend time trying to decide.
An over-abundance of clothing and digging through it to try and mix and a match that can actually turn dressing in the morning into more of a time-consuming chore than a pleasure. Some of you may be organized enough to choose what to wear the night before. However, most of us do not do this and unless we wear uniforms, the best solution is to cut down our wardrobes, leaving some good basic essentials.
Set your Daily Goals
Goal setting is important as unless you know what you want to achieve, days will just drift by without any focus. A goal is rather like a camera lens that you have to focus properly to take a clear picture. The picture is blurry if it’s out of focus.
You probably have a few long-term goals relating to your work, your relationships, your health etc. You need to take these primary goals and divide them up into daily goals. This allows you to focus on what you need to achieve every day and make sure you make time to achieve them. For instance, if you plan on learning a new language, unless you set up a daily goal of spending half an hour a day, you won’t achieve your goal.
By looking at these goals first thing in the morning, you can see what you need to do to make them happen during the day and assess all possible roadblocks that could prevent this from happening. You have to develop a daily strategy on how you are going to accomplish the goals and you have to be flexible to cope with what life throws your way.
You may have as many as three or four goals you want to achieve during the day, such as spending time with a child, learning a new activity, exercising to improve your health and meditating. You will have to decide when is the best time of your day for you to achieve these goals. You will feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. You can always revise your daily goals if you are battling to accomplish them.
Do your Worst Task First
All of us have an item on our to-do list that we just don’t want to do. We procrastinate and think of every excuse not to do it. We dread it all day and anticipate its unpleasantness from the time we take that first sip of coffee in the morning. Before we know it, we have procrastinated sufficiently for that task to end up on the next day’s to-do-list.
It’s better to tackle that item you dread while you are fresh, well-rested and still have plenty of energy. You are much better equipped to handle difficult tasks in the morning than after lunch when you often go through a slump. The idea is that if you do that dreaded task first, the rest of the day will only get better from there.
If you tackle it first, your day will become progressively easier. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you have done that horrible task will give you fuel to accomplish even more. Perhaps you dread exercising. You may love the adrenaline rush and the feeling once you have begun but you can’t seem to get over the hump and actually get started. The more the day progresses, the less motivated and more guilty you feel but you just can’t get going. If you had just exercised early in the morning, you wouldn’t have to go through this.
If you do that hard thing first in the morning without even allowing yourself an option, by the time you are coming to the end of the day, you can start to wind down, feel proud of what you have accomplished and head into your evening feeling relaxed.
Make time for loved ones
It’s very easy to concentrate on your morning routine and forget all about those closest to you. Brushing your teeth and washing your face are part of your morning routine but making time for your loved ones every day is even more important. Making quality time in the morning before you get caught up in work is not only rewarding but essential.
Most of us do not have much time to spend together in the mornings but it’s more a question of quality rather than quantity. The mornings can have some very tender moments for parents of younger kids as they lie down with them for a few moments before they have to get up or wake them up by stroking their hair. For older kids, it may be a few positive words as you send them off with to school.
Simply sitting and having a healthy breakfast together as a family is one way to touch base. However, if you can’t manage to get everyone together at the table, don’t feel guilty. Even a brief, warm connection can create the tone for the rest of the day. If the first connections of the day are hostile or defensive, it can ruin the whole day. In just the same way, if they are nurturing and warm, they can improve the whole day.
The little connections in the morning are the ones you don’t want to skip. Physically connecting with your loved ones by giving them a goodbye kiss or hug will not only reduce your stress before you walk out of the door but remind you of what’s truly important in your life.