Some people prefer a nice, long stretch while others swear by things like cuddling with a loved one, taking a shot of apple cider vinegar, or even using the circadian rhythm alarm clock. Regardless of preference, though, one thing is for certain: people’s morning routines have long been a point of discussion. And it makes sense that we would care. After all, how we wake up is usually pretty indicative of how the rest of our day unfolds. If you’ve ever woken up late, spilled something on yourself first thing, or had a really bad dream the night before, you know that an interrupted morning routine can really throw you off.
But what if I told you that adding one thing to your morning routine could have a genuine, positive impact on the rest of your day every single time? Furthermore, what if I told you that it took 2-3 minutes tops, you could do it ANYWHERE, and it cost virtually nothing? Would you believe me? Probably not, but it's true.
Enter: the art of practicing gratitude.
Think about the very first thing you do when you wake up. It involves your phone, doesn't it? Checking our phones first thing is a tough habit to break - after all, what else wakes us up easier than the dopamine-fueled activity of scrolling through a social media feed? Unfortunately, this means that we are already outside of our own heads within our first waking moment - it means we have immediately relinquished any sense of control over our environment and have handed the wheel over to whatever external factors jump in our path. That's kind of terrifying isn't it? Next time, try turning off your alarm and putting the phone back onto your nightstand. Sit up straight. Take a few deep breaths. And, well, count your blessings.
This doesn't have to be a religious thing (though, it's alright if it is). It's really much more of a spiritual practice; a way of stepping back and taking stock; a method for starting your day off with a clean slate. Sure, the first few times you are groggy-eyed and foggy-brained it may be difficult to think of 3 things. But the more you practice it, the easier it will come.
A tip: if you really have trouble "thinking" first thing in the morning, count your 3 things before you go to bed the night prior. Write them down. Then, when you wake up, read them back to yourself.
I've been practicing this for about 7 months now and I can genuinely say it has changed my life for the better. By practicing gratitude, I am forced to wake up and immediately acknowledge the positive circumstances of my life. Here's what this morning's list looked like:
I am grateful for...
1) cozy Friday evenings cooking dinner and drinking wine in a warm apartment
2) the freedom of being young
3) the power of natural sunlight
By taking pulse of my physical environment, current events happening in the world and my own internal feelings, I'm able to kick my day off to a much more positive start. I tend to come back to the things I counted in the morning later in the day when walking to get lunch or spacing out for a moment at my desk. If you keep at it, this practice really weaves a wavelength of good vibes through your day. Lately, I've been writing it down as often as possible which I also find helps.
In our western society, we often forget how much power we truly have internally. For the slightest of health concerns, we quickly turn to pills, procedures and the like. For relationship issues, we vent outwardly to others. For happiness, we aim to acquire material possessions. But, at the end of the day, we still go to sleep with only our own peace of mind (or lack thereof) and wake up just the same. Perhaps, it is time to focus within, even if it is only for a few brief moments...