Want to know some great ways to start the day positively and mindfully? When you start the day off right you wake up happy and everything falls into place. Here’s how to do it
Many believe that the morning is the single most important time of the day. Science supports this belief. A study conducted by Roy Baumeister, psychology professor at Florida State University, showed that willpower is similar to a muscle. The longer you work the less willpower you have.
It’s in the morning that your willpower is at its strongest. Therefore, it’s in the morning when you are most able to get things done. But if you want to start the day positively you need to know how to wake up happy. You need to get your morning right if the rest of the day is to be successful.
Why You Need To Start The Day Positively
In the morning your will power is at its highest. So you’re most able to get things done.
For instance. If you’re on a diet, you should eat as perfectly as possible in the morning because by evening your willpower will have weakened. If you have something important to do, you should get it done early.. And likewise with decisions. If there is a difficult decision you know you need to make, make it early in the day and then act on it.
National Wellness Expert Lynn Taylor says, “How you begin your morning often sets the tone and your attitude for the day. Your morning can derail you or direct your focus. If you remain committed to good morning work habits, you won’t fall prey to feeling unproductive and distracted at the end of the day or week.”
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast agrees. Her book reveals that successful people begin their day with important spiritual, intellectual, or physical pursuits. By having a fulfilling morning you will motivate yourself to work positively for the rest of the day.
But it’s not only scientists who advocate the importance of morning. Spiritualists do too. Most religions and spiritualities advocate starting the day positively.
How The Buddha Would Start The Day Positively
The Buddha had a daily routine that he is said to have done every day. The Buddha’s morning session began at 4am and ended at noon. Buddha would begin the day with a wash and would then immediately set to meditating. His meditation would last for one hour. Afterwards he would spend one hour looking at the world through his third eye.
This meditation period begin at 5am and ended at 6am. During this meditation, Buddha would seek those who needed help. He would then put on his robe and help whoever needed his assistance.
That was the Buddha’s morning ritual. You can read more about the Buddha’s morning ritual in my article about The Path To Enlightenment.
Your own morning routine makes or breaks your day. That’s why it’s important to start the day positively and mindfully. When you make your morning a mindful and positive experience, you create the right foundation on which to build the rest of your day.
But what are the best ways to start the day positively and mindfully
It’s really an individual thing, of course, because we all have different needs and considerations. There are, however, a few mutually agreeable points.
Ten Ways To start the day positively and mindfully
I’d like to share with you ten of my best ways to start the day positively and mindfully. Try each of these and let me know how big a difference they make to your daily routine.
Here are my favorite ways to start the day positively and mindfully.
1: Welcome the day
The best way to start the day positively is to express thanks for the day itself.
The day is a blessing. Prince said, “Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” What a great mentality with which to start the day.
Welcome the day mindfully. Open the curtains and mindfully observe the fresh light of day swimming upon your skin. Tell yourself that this is your day; a valuable, precious day to achieve great things.
As the Dalai Lama says, “Every day, think as you wake up, ‘Today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.’”
One of the biggest reasons for unhappiness is that people are too obsessed with their pasts. If you want to be happy today, get over yesterday. Take a look my my guide to overcoming the past so you can be happier.
2: Set your aim
Laura Vanderkam says that the most successful people get something important done early. But in order to get something important done, you first have to find something important to do.
What matters to you today? If you could go to bed tonight knowing that you achieved one thing, what would that one thing be? Get it done as soon as possible.
You’re at your strongest in the morning. Use that valuable time like currency. Invest it. See a return from it. Get something major done. That’s now starting the day positively!
Thoughts are like little magic spells. They conjure things into being. A negative thoughts will summon a negative consequence. A positive thought will be the seed of a blossoming flower. Be mindful of your thoughts, they are the root of happiness, or, for some, the root of negativity. Weed out negative thoughts from your mind and plant beauteous flowers there instead. Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of all that we have thought.” How right he was. Be gardener and caretaker of your mind and in it you will create for yourself a garden of Eden.
3: Meditate, or practice another spiritual endeavour
Being a meditation teacher I am quite blatantly going to say this; but one of the best ways to start the day positively is to meditate.
When you meditate in the morning you focus your mind for the rest of the day. That perhaps is why Buddha meditated first thing every morning.
Morning meditations are akin to sharpening a blade. No knight would desire to enter a battle with blunt sword.Why start a day with a blunt mind? Meditate first thing in the morning and your mind will be in tip-top condition for the rest of the day.
4: Have a mindful breakfast
Mindful eating is one of my personal favourite ways to start the day positively.
Mindful eating is a process that involves nonjudgmental observation of the food we eat. When we eat breakfast mindfully, we intentionally eat slowly, focusing the mind 100% on the sensations of the food we are eating. We observe what the food looks like, tastes like… and we also observe any thoughts that enter our mind while we eat.
Mindful eating is extremely beneficial for both mental and physical health. As Dr Susan Albers, a New York Times bestselling author, says, “Studies show that mindful eating can 1) reduce overeating and binge eating, 2) help you to lose weight, 3) help you to cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia, and 4) improve the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.”
But mindful eating isn’t just for people with eating disorders. Eating mindfully helps you to focus on the present moment, and also makes eating a much more pleasurable experience.
5: Express Gratitude
What better way to start the day positively than by expressing gratitude? The attitude of gratitude is the fast track to happiness.
Psychologist Lauren Aarsonen, Ph.D, says, “Gratitude is a sentiment we’d all do well to cultivate according to positive psychologists… Feeling thankful and expressing that thanks makes you happier and heartier.”
Gratitude has been getting more and more press coverage as we begin to full understand precisely how important gratitude is. Dr Wayne Dyer says, “Being grateful helps remove the influence of our egos… and allows us to adopt the radical humility that’s very persuasive in helping others connect with the Spirit that unites us all.”
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California-Riverside, says that keeping a gratitude journal (in which you write a record of all the things you feel thankful for) will increase energy, boost positive feelings, and even relieve pain. Take a deep breath. Connect with your breath. And say, “I am thankful to be experiencing this divine moment in my life.”
Spend ten minutes every morning writing a list of things to be thankful for. Or alternatively, tell one person that you are very thankful for something specific that they have done in your life. This will get both yours and their days off to a fantastic start.
So, remember to say thank you.
6: Do some slow exercise
It’s great to start the day positively with some exercise, but you shouldn’t push too hard when you’re just getting up.
The morning isn’t necessarily the best time to do intense exercise as we often have some stiffness after sleeping. However, it is a very good time to warm up your body and also to heighten your mind body connection.
The best forms of morning exercises are gentle exercises like basic yoga, tai chi, and QiGong. These exercises are slow and gentle. They warm up the body and help connect the mind and body. And if you intend on working out later in the day, doing some gentle morning exercises will help get your body moving.
7: Say something that matters
Say something that you know truly matters to at least one person. For instance, if you’re really proud that your kids did so well in their recent school tests, remind them about it in the morning. This is double-magic, because it makes the morning magical for two people. You will feel amazingly positive because you’ve made someone happy. And the other person will feel supported and proud / satisfied with the compliment you’ve given.
8: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country… or community
Buddha spend every morning finding a way in which to benefit the people in his community. This helped both his community and Buddha himself.
Positive psychology tells us that a sense of social importance is immensely valuable to our mental wellbeing. When we feel that we are important to the community around us we find the positivity and motivation to do work that matters.
Look for ways to help your community. And then…
9: Do one thing that actively helps your community
Having found a way in which to help your community, immediately set to it. You don’t have to move mountains in the morning—that’s really much more of a mid-day activity—but you can make a start.
Let’s say that your local conservation area needs a tidy up. Get in contact with the necessary authorities and ask if you can help to tidy up that area. When you do this you will immediately feel more connected to the world outside your house. Five minutes spent helping your community will give you positivity for the entire week.
10: Express appreciation, love, and pride for yourself
One of the most famous Buddha quotes in “You yourself, as much as anybody in the universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Psychologists have proven that self compassion is the key to self esteem. You have to love yourself. You have to forgive yourself your wrongs. You have to appreciate and respect your strengths. Only then, with proper love of self, will you fulfil the many wonderful things that you are capable of.
Begin the morning by expressing gratitude and love for yourself. The best way to do this is by practicing Loving Kindness Meditation.
11: To make your morning a happy one, just smile
What easier way how to be happy in the morning than just to smile. Try these 5 joy-filled ways to let yourself be happy.
Amy Cuddy proved that we can create our emotions by modelling them through our body language. If we slouch we feel lethargic. If we stand tall we feel strong. If we smile we will feel happy.
Smiling is a free mind hack. Try staying angry while smiling. You won’t. When you smile, serotonin and endorphins flow to the brain, creating happiness. The pronoia sets in and you get off to a great start for the new day. Smiling has been shown to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. And all we need do is smile.
Scientists at the University of Cardiff Wales researched the effects of cosmetic botox injections on emotions. Their tests showed that people who have had botox injections that prevent them from being able to frown are actually happier than the average person. Conversely, fMRI studies conducted by scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany showed that people whose botox injections prevent them from smiling had much lower activity in the brain circuits involved in emotional processing and responses—in the amygdala, hypothalamus and parts of the brain stem.
12: To make your morning a happy one, just breathe
The simplest way how to be happy in the morning is just to breathe.
Breath is the stem of life. As the roots of a tree must connect with fertile soil in order for that tree to grow strong, so too must the human mind connect with the root of life, the breath, in order for the mind to grow.
Don’t baseline to shallow breathing. That way leads to stress for both body and mind. Breathe deep. Fill your body with fresh life through your breath. And as you breathe, focus on the sensation of breathing. Connect with the breath. Mindful breathing will breed happiness deep within.
Peace activist and meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Our breathing is the link between our body and our mind. Sometimes our mind is thinking of one thing and our body is doing another, and mind and body are not unified. By concentrating on our breathing, “In” and “Out,” we bring body and mind back together, and become whole again. Conscious breathing is an important bridge.”
13: To make your morning a happy one, forgive past mistakes
Are there any among us who can say they live a perfect life? Mistakes are a part of our journey here on Earth. Mistakes are natural. It is the way we react to those mistakes that does damage, not the mistakes themselves. A mistake acknowledged and learnt from represents growth. Every morning, look back on yesterday. See with a clear mind, with equanimity. Say to yourself, “I accept the mistakes I made yesterday. I have learned from them. I will use the lessons I learned from yesterday to take myself further today.”
Forgiveness leads to happiness. Forgive yourself. And forgive others for their mistakes too.
Look at your shadows, and know that it is only through those shadows that you ever came into the light.
These ten tips will make your morning positive and mindful. Build your morning upon these strong foundations. Then you will soar high for the entire day.
14: Do this morning meditation
Set your alarm ten minutes early
Some meditation practitioners might advocate waking up at the crack of dawn and watching the sunrise while doing some yoga. Good for them. Doubtlessly there are many great health benefits of doing so. But most of us need sleep after a busy day, and need to wake up and get to work. So let’s get real, shall we?
Setting the alarm just ten minutes early seems pretty real to me. That’s ten minutes we can give ourselves to meditate without losing too much sleep.
So, waking up ten minutes early, we can now leap out of bed and immediately . . . errr. . sit on the floor for ten minutes to meditate.
Your first Opportunity to Meditate
Remember, as with all the meditations in this book, it’s up to you whether you wish to use this one or not. Perhaps you don’t want to lose those ten minutes in bed in the morning. If so, simply skip over this meditation and pick another one. There are plenty more opportunities to meditate!
If you’ve decided to stick with this meditation, here’s how to do it.
1: Sit comfortably: Find a comfortable sitting position that works for you, preferably one in which you will not need to fidget. It is also better to be somewhere quiet and alone where you will not be disturbed (especially is there’s someone still lying in bed snoring!)
2: Close your eyes and focus on your breath: First thing in the morning your mind may still be full of visions from your sleep, or you may find yourself thinking of the day ahead. Either way, close your eyes and focus on your breath in order to release these waking thoughts.
3: Listen: In order to truly wake-up and start feeling energised, listen to the sounds around you. If you are so fortunate you may live in an area near running water or with birds singing that you can listen to. If not, simply find a piece of relaxing music, put it on your iPod and listen.
4: Connect with your body: It’s important to reconnect body and mind in the morning. The best way to do so is with a quick five minute body scan. Begin by focussing your attention on the crown of your head. Feel the sensations there. Then, gradually move down your body, scanning as you go. Notice the sensations in your neck, arms, torso, legs, right down to your feet. Not gradually return your focus back up towards your head.
5: A bright start: To make the morning a bright start, you may wish to take a couple of minutes to recite a positive mantra. You might recite a line about the day ahead (for instance, “I am feeling positive about the day ahead” – something simple like that, it’s best not to be too complex in the morning, after all—or a loving kindness mantra (for instance “I extend love and happiness to all”). It’s entirely up to you which words you choose to use as a mantra, but choose something positive about the day ahead and recite it a few times over.
And you’re done. Ten minutes into the day and you’re already feeling positive, happy, relaxed and, most importantly, awake.