Thinking About – How to Start our Day
For many years now I have started my days in exactly the same way. After waking up I head downstairs to be greeted by a very happy Oscar the Dog, I give him a tickle and feed him. While he’s eating I pour some juice, take a couple of supplements, and brew some coffee, then it’s outside for him to do his business. Back in, I sit down with my coffee, download my RSS feeds and read through, then open today’s edition of my chosen newspaper.
That’s when it all begins to go wrong.
After the newspaper has told me how bad things are and all of the terrible things that are happening in the world I would then have a look at my Facebook feed, and very often that would sadly re-enforce all of the things I’d just read in the newspaper, just with a bit more personal vigour and anger.
That first hour is the foundation upon which the rest of my day was built and so unsurprisingly much of my energy was spent trying to shift that negativity into a more positive space throughout the rest of the day. It seems I managed that for a long time, but over the last couple of months, it’s been harder to shift. To be very honest I hadn’t really taken a good look at that morning routine with any real focus. Like any habit, it just tends to sit there feeling safe, allowing me to go into autopilot, and not have to think about anything too much. Some habits are good, but this one was draining me, and so I decided to see if I could find something to do about it.
I was on a songwriters’ Zoom call when I saw in the chat someone mentioning a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It’s funny that even after all these years I’m still amazed at how the synchronicities of the Universe can align to give you exactly the right thing, at exactly the right moment, if we have our eyes open and ready to see. Even while the Zoom call was on I looked the book up and ordered a copy. As it turns out it was exactly what I needed.
If you are like me and have a tendency to dive into the news or social media as the first thing you do each day, you might also benefit from the ideas in the book. It’s not a big book – I read it in a day – and it really revolves around one simple idea – that what we do when we wake up influences our day ahead in ways we might not realise, and it offers a solution. The first of which was to wake up 30 minutes earlier each morning to make sure there is enough time to complete the new morning routine. I’m definitely a morning person, I also love my bed, but in for a penny…
So I changed my alarm to wake me up 30 minutes earlier. There is a lot of explanation in the book as to why this shouldn’t really be a problem. Upon rising clean your teeth and immediately drink a good glass of water to replenish what was lost during the night. All good there. Head downstairs and start the new routine.
So I go downstairs and there is Oscar. So the new routine would have to wait a bit. Things really changed when I sat down for the time I would normally have read the paper.
What lay ahead of me was this:
S: Sit for 10 minutes in silent meditation. The first thing every day. Allow space to listen.
A: Set a timer for 5 minutes and say 5 minutes of affirmations out loud. I confess I’ve never really been one for affirmations. They always felt a bit New Agey, a bit The Secret. But I also remember the motivational speaker Tony Robbins saying once “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion. Affirmation with discipline creates miracles”. So I wrote some affirmations and expressed them for 5 minutes.
V: Set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes, and visualise your day ahead. I saw myself going through all of the things I had planned, with a smile on my face, and with ease, reaching the end of the day feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment.
E: Then it’s on with the Airpods, out into the conservatory, and on the treadmill for 20 minutes of exercise. I’ve been using the Apple Fitness+ app for this. When I read the book I thought this might be the hardest part to enjoy but man I was so wrong! I was under the impression that doing my treadmill exercise first thing would give me less energy for the rest of the day but it’s entirely the opposite. I look forward to it every morning now.
R: After the treadmill, it’s time to wind down by reading a few pages of an inspiring and uplifting book. Again I set a timer for about 10 minutes for this, otherwise, I’d be reading for hours. The book I’m reading in the morning at the moment is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I could read it at other times of the day, but I’m finding just 3 or so pages each morning is helping me put what I just read into practice so they can become, well, habits.
S: The final thing is to head to my studio/office and journal for 10 or 15 minutes. For this, I use a Mind Journal. I’d actually been journaling in one of these since the beginning of lockdown and it’s been a wonderful way of clearing my mind, so having it included as the last activity was great. And S for journaling? In the book, Hal squares this up using the letter S for ‘scribe’, because then the routine anacronym is SAVERS.
Then it’s on with my day. The whole thing takes about an hour, and I’ve adjusted my morning alarm to give me that time.
So how is it going?
My whole mood has lifted, I feel energised for the day ahead, and I also feel a very early and powerful sense of accomplishment – all of that before the day has really even started. I go to bed looking forward to waking up and getting on with all of that stuff. I now leave reading the newspaper until about 6 pm.
Maybe you’re are like me? If you are give the book a read. I’m absolutely sure that it won’t work for everyone, but even if you can do a couple of those things upon waking, instead of engaging the autopilot and opening the Facebook app or watching the news, I’m quite convinced you will have a better day ahead too.
Peace my friends!