The Simplest, Awesome-est Morning Ritual Ever
I love my morning ritual. I love reading about morning rituals. Truth be told, though, some days, forget about winning the day or crossing the most important item off my to-do list, it's literally a struggle just to get up and get started. So how do you start and stick with it? It's all about neurosynaptic rerouting and long-term potentiation - Huh? - psychology and neuroscience teach us that we can actually rewire our own brains! How cool is that? How? By starting a new micro-habit that gives us immediate feedback in the form of positive reinforcement.
One of the major reasons people fail at behavior change is that they either bite off too much right at the beginning, setting some ridiculously huge goal, or they lose motivation. This bite-sized morning ritual is just the thing to get you started and keep you on course.
It consists of 7 micro-rituals, one for each day of the week. Commit to doing one of these as soon as you wake up in the morning for 7 days and notice the effect on your mood, energy, productivity and happiness. Ask for feedback from others. Watch yourself get happier.
Lots of morning rituals tell you to start the day with a win. Some days that can feel like a lot of pressure. So let's keep it simple. Just think of a win from yesterday and say it out loud. It can be anything - overcoming fear or an obstacle, figuring something out, a random act of kindness, making someone laugh.
This exercise will focus your mind on wins, and start you thinking about what win from today will stand out in your mind tomorrow. The point is not the actual winning, but rewiring your brain to see your life as a series of wins, with some inevitable failures and setbacks. When you start seeing each failure or setback as just one more necessary step toward success, your response to them will completely change.
I teach my yoga students "every fall brings you one step closer to the perfect handstand" - they immediately get it. Suddenly instead of treating falling with fear and avoidance, they actively seek it out and embrace it.
"One awesome thing about me is ________". Fill in the blank. Out loud. Really.
It sounds kinda goofy, but try it. Pick a likable quality or something about yourself you are proud of, stand in front of the mirror and with a big smile on your face and a booming voice, say it out loud.
You will be amazed at how many times during the day you'll catch yourself thinking "yeah, I am very ... patient, generous, caring, etc." Stating the behavior out loud in the morning builds and reinforces a framework of qualities which form your positive self image. Conscious and subconscious cues will cause your behavior to emphasize and your thoughts to recognize and reinforce those qualities.
This exercise will also help you catch that substernal twinge of cognitive dissonance you feel when your behavior is out of sync with your admirable qualities. Passive aggressive or selfish behavior will begin to screech like nails on a chalkboard, alerting you that you are not behaving like your ideal self and telling you to start looking for that "undo" button sooner rather than later.
Studies show that you can make yourself 25% happier simply by expressing gratitude. Choose one thing in your life that you're grateful for and say so, loud and clear, to yourself or, even better, someone else. If it involves someone else make sure you let them know - "I was reflecting on gratitude today and thinking about how lucky I am to have you in my life". Reflect on how much better your life is right now, today, because of that person, condition, or event. Imagine how much better your life could be if you enhance that condition (e.g. your health), or put more time and energy into that relationship.
Let the feeling of gratitude stay with you all day and permeate your entire routine. Everything will look and feel different, like you're wearing new glasses for the first time. It's so easy to get into the habit of listening to all the bad news stories and start thinking negative thoughts about the world. Guess what? It's just as easy to start picking out all the positive nuggets - you just have to retrain your brain. Subjects who were asked to come up with a list of 3 new things they were grateful for each day started seeing the world completely differently after just 21 days. They had rewired their brains to scan the world for and amplify the positive aspects of their lives. Try it, it works.
Be The One
"Today I'm going to be the friendliest one in the room."
"Today I'm going to be the first one running on the beach as the sun rises"
"Today I'm going to be genuinely and ridiculously kind to someone I don't really like."
Imagine the person you want to be. Be that person for one day. Just one day. See what happens.
My girl and I woke up this morning and danced to U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead. We made up a bunch of new moves - some pretty cool, some totally dorky. If you're not sure what to do just mirror a crazy movie scene. Dance like Austin Powers, Vincent Vega, or Rodney.
Disco-dance like Tony Manero - Guaranteed smile on your face all day.
No I'm not talking about humming quietly to yourself in the shower. Imagine you're holding a microphone, performing before a full stadium. Stand up tall, chest out, take a deep breath, and belt out a verse of a favorite song. High notes. Harmony. A capella. Doo-Wop. The whole shebang. How does that feel?
For the last day of the week, pick your favorite one from the list above and repeat it. Or just roll a dice.