When I was a teenager, I remember waking up for school only after my mom's fifth attempt at getting me to open my eyes. I'd rise from bed like a mummy from a tomb, moving toward my bedroom door in zombie style strides. At that point, my sister had already claimed our shared bathroom space; her makeup and straightening iron would be sprawled out on the vanity and if I dared to knock on the door, screams would vibrate through the walls of our house.
I'd resort back to my room defeated, knowing that I wouldn't have enough time to wash my face, brush my teeth, do my hair and makeup, and pick out an outfit that I actually liked, that wasn't my sister's clothing, as she had our dad put a padlock on her door. When she was done using the bathroom and headed downstairs for breakfast, I'd sneak into her room since I always figured out the padlock's code anyway. I'd steal a shirt or pants and pray like hell we wouldn't pass each other in the hallways between classes.
Ah, the good old days.
My morning routine wasn't much of a routine when I was a teenager and throughout my early twenties. If a routine consisted of zero planning or preparation and required waiting until the very last minute to do anything, that was my niche. I was an expert at going with the flow, rolling with the punches, closing my eyes and crossing my fingers that everything would just fall into place.
Now, over a decade later, mornings are the most pivotal time of my day. Mornings are where I create, plan and focus. Mornings are the blank canvas and the untouched page. It's the space for dreaming and getting intentional about the type of day I want to experience and the kind of life I want to lead. Mornings are, quite simply, the most important time of day because you're setting the tone for how you're going to feel, what you're going to think, and how you'll go out into the world and interact with others.
Here's how I use the quiet hours just after sunrise and before my workday begins to cultivate presence, happiness and gratitude for a new day.
Most mornings I begin my day with meditation. Some mornings I meditate for 5 minutes, others 10-20 minutes. If I feel drawn to guided meditations, I'll use the Insight Timer app and search keywords like "happiness, gratitude, peace, creativity, and focus" and then see what meditations I feel most drawn to. Other times I just want silence or the sounds of nature and will set a timer on my phone for however long I want my practice to be.
I focus on my breath and when I inhale, I internally say "I am love." When I exhale, I internally say "I am light." As I repeat these mantras, I try to really feel the energy behind those words. Sometimes I'll change the mantras depending on how I'm feeling that day, but the main objective is to get into the feeling essence of what emotion I want to embody. Feeling the positivity behind your thoughts is just as important, if not more, than just thinking happy thoughts.
(If you haven't listened to my morning meditations yet, click here to listen to them).
2. Journaling, Affirmations, and Manifestation
I have a journal that is only filled with positive affirmations, dreams, gratitude lists, and narratives of the life I want to have. When I see this journal or pick it up, I instantly feel love and excitement for my life as I've filled this book with such positive energy and thanks.
After I meditate, I'll take this journal and write:
-any thoughts, ideas or visions that came to me during my meditation
-five to ten things that I'm really grateful for (things that happened the day before, that morning, or general things I feel lucky to have and explain WHY I'm grateful for them)
-about my dreams as though they already happened, giving rich details of what I'm excited to have and experience ("I'm so grateful that my book is published and in the hands of millions of people!")
-positive affirmations of the type of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to have ("I am the most positive person I know." "I am a NYT Bestselling Author.")
*If you have a card deck that you use, I'd suggest pulling a card or a few cards after your meditation and ask the Universe for any messages that would help you that day. I use Colette Baron-Reid's deck, The Good Tarot,but there are many good card decks that aren't tarot oriented and have positive affirmations and messages that you can use. When I ask for a message to support and guide me, I always get answers from my card reading.
Moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day helps increase blood flow and boost endorphins to help you feel happier and healthier. I typically try to do this in the morning before my mind conceives of an excuse to not do it later in the day. It also makes me feel really good, so I'd prefer to start my day with that energy.
I like to go for a three mile run and then follow it with a 15-30 minute workout from the YouTube channel MadFit. I used to go to Orange Theory for high intensity, hour long workouts, but I've adapted my routine to the current times and what's available to me.
You might find the same satisfaction in a long walk, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, or kickboxing. Whatever your preference is, carve out at least thirty minutes to move your body for a natural high.
4. Refocusing Your Attention to Where You Want It to Be
When I'm getting ready for work, I sometimes find myself ten steps ahead of where I actually am. Although my body may be in front of a mirror, my brain is already sitting at my office desk juggling ten things at once. I can get so anxious and stressed when thinking about To-Do lists that I forget I have the power to think about my workday differently. Yes, there may be a lot to get done, but instead of worrying about it not getting done, I can choose to focus on one thing at a time and know that everything will be completed in a timely manner.
I also don't want to get into the habit of rushing my day or my life by thinking about where I'll be and what I'll be doing later on. So I bring my awareness back into the present moment by focusing on my breath, taking in my current surroundings and choosing what I'll center my energy on.
5. Intentionality Through Dancing
Lastly, some mornings when I feel like no matter what I do I just can't shake grogginess, negativity or monotony, I put on a high energy song and dance around my living room (despite feeling really corny and lame doing so). I move my body, I don't care how I look, and I let myself breathe, dance and just be silly.
The point of this is to increase my energy levels and remind myself that life can funny and goofy. Even if I don't feel like doing something, I am not my initial thoughts or feelings. I am what I choose to think and feel. Putting on a good song and letting myself dance for the sake of dancing shakes me out of a mundane mindset and offers the space to just be and enjoy being.
Those are just a few tips for beginning your day with gratitude, movement and happiness. What works for me might not work for you, but give some of these activities a try and then modify your morning routine to what naturally feels good for you.
Remember, this whole human thing is up to you. You get to choose what thoughts you're thinking, what emotions you're feeling and what space you'll live your life from. It can be as easy or as diffifult as you make it out to be. The more conscious you are of your own thoughts and habits, the more you'll be creating a life that fulfills and sustains you, uplifts and excites you, and gets you out of bed in the morning without having to hit snooze.
Who hits snooze on a life they're excited about anyway? :)