Are you having a good day today? Will you have a good day tomorrow? It might be a little late to impact the day you’re currently living through, but there is a way to prepare for a better day tomorrow. It starts when you wake up and involves taking a few simple steps to get your day off to a good start.
A good day starts with a good morning.
You’ve heard the expression that someone “got up on the wrong side of the bed.” It indicates that a person not only started the day in a foul mood, but that this moodiness continued throughout the day. (The concept comes from ancient Rome and the superstition that one should always arise on the right side of the bed because the left side was unlucky.)
But what if there was a way to get up on the right side each day, not just literally but figuratively? The way to improve your mood may be to engage in a morning ritual—or more precisely, a series of rituals. The fact is rituals, or a series of activities performed regularly, seem to have a positive effect on the human psyche whether they’re used to relieve our grief or lift our spirits. According to Scientific American:
Research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective and have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Rituals work.
The key to making a ritual work is repetition. You start an activity one day and continue it each day moving forward, when time and circumstances permit. Your rituals should be part of your regular schedule and as integral to your morning as brushing your teeth and having a cup of hot coffee. Best of all, your rituals can consist of the activities that work best for you.
Here are seven rituals you might consider doing each morning. The list starts with two activities related to movement, followed by five activities that feed the mind and soul and require little activity at all. I’m not suggesting you do all seven or any of these seven—find the activities that work best for you, then practice them on a regular basis.
7 Morning Rituals to Start Your Day Right
- Stretch yourself out. Personally, I’ve reached the point in my life where I wake up stiff and sore each morning. You, too? As soon as I get up, I hit the floor (a yoga mat, to be precise) and s-t-r-e-t-c-h my arms, my back, my legs. After all, it’s hard to keep the mind clear when the body aches.
- Get moving. Four or five days a week, I go on a worry-cleansing 3-mile run. You may prefer to go on a walk, a bike ride or a swim. Exercising the body has a way of calming the mind and has the added benefit of helping you feel good about yourself.
- Read spiritual literature. Each morning, before logging in at work, I try to read something that will inspire or motivate me for the day ahead, from life philosophy blogs to spiritual texts. On days I drive to work, I rely on uplifting podcasts.
- Say a prayer of gratitude. I give thanks for everyone and everything I am grateful for each and every day. As John Templeton said, when we give thanks daily, even more reasons to be thankful seem to come our way.
- Be present with an animal. Try being conscious of the dog at your feet or the cat on your lap. Is the cat purring while you stroke it? Be completely present to your furry friend, rather than stroking distractedly while having a conversation or watching TV. A great friend is present, be present with it.
- Focus on the breath and be still. You say you’ve tried to meditate and you can’t keep your monkey mind still? Then I suggest you engage in rhythmic breathing. Spend a few moments focusing on your breath, taking a deep breath in, pausing, and taking a deep breath out. Repeat 8-10 times. It can do wonders.
- Just sit there. Unable to focus? Don’t sweat it. Enjoy a cup of coffee in the early morning hours in quiet contemplation. It’s not about sipping a cup as you surf the Internet. It’s about quieting the mind and becoming totally immersed in the early morning silence before the day beckons.
Finally, as you go out to start your day, I’d like you to remember these 3 pointers I picked up from my long-time mentor John Templeton. They’re based around the idea that your focus in life should be on giving, not receiving. Giving, not receiving. The more good you bring into the world, the more good you bring to yourself.
- If you want to be happy, strive to make someone else happy. Give happiness
- If you want to have more love in your life, strive to be a more loving person. Give love.
- If you want to be successful, help others to succeed. Give of yourself.
As Templeton points out, “if you only receive, that’s all you end up having. If you give, you have the pleasure of knowing that you have helped others, plus the rewards that giving brings back to you.” It’s a good reason to forget about receiving and start “giving” today.