Are you like me?
You hear the alarm, throw your arm out hoping to hit the snooze button, and fall out of bed. You stumble to the bathroom and dial the shower up to its hottest setting. After a cup of coffee, you grab your keys and hope you’re awake by the time you make it to work.
Mornings are tough.
If you’re like me, when someone tells you there’s something MORE you should be doing in the mornings, you ignore them on principle. The less you have to do after you wake up, the better!
But there’s one fact I can’t ignore:
I feel pretty darn awful in the mornings.
Mornings aren’t good experiences for me. And sometimes that carries through to more of the day than I’d like.
Wouldn’t it be nice for morning to be a pleasant experience?
I’m not asking for mornings to be enjoyable—I think that would be asking too much—but just … maybe … tolerable? Something I didn’t have to dread?
I read a lot, and one idea that keeps crossing my path is that of a “morning practice.”
Something you do the minute you wake up in the morning that gets your day off to a great start.
Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggests keeping a pen and paper by your bedside and putting them to use the instant you wake up. Write until you’ve filled 3 entire pages. Creative types rave about these “morning pages,” crediting them with unlocking all kinds of inspiration.
Self-help legend Louise L. Hay wakes up in the morning and immediately thanks her bed for a good night’s sleep. Then she looks in the mirror and tells herself, “Louise, you’re so wonderful.” She incorporates positive thoughts and affirmations into her morning routine, explaining:
How you start your day is how you’re going to live your day. And how you’re going to live your day is the way you live your life.
Rhonda Byrne, author of The Magic (and its bestselling precursor, The Secret), tells us to program in ourselves an attitude of gratitude. When you wake up, think of a few things you’re grateful for and savor that feeling of appreciation.
Great ideas, all of them. But there’s one problem:
I can’t THINK coherently when I wake up.
I’m on autopilot. My feet move me to where I’m supposed to go. I’m lucky if I get to work with presentable shoes on. I’m not going to confess how many times I’ve ended up in the car driving off only to look down and see I’m still wearing my house slippers.
There’s one thing all those authors are right about, though:
It is SO easy to start the day with complaining.
Feeling irritated by the noisy alarm. Resenting having to wake up. Guilty at having stayed up too late. Worried about what’s going on at work. Unhappy at what the mirror is reflecting back.
That’s something I can change.
I can notice when I’m doing it and replace those thoughts with more positive ones.
When I hear my alarm go off, I can choose to feel grateful I have a job to go to. When I turn on the shower, I can feel grateful that I’ve got the luxury of hot water. When I think about work, I can appreciate the fact I’m given so many challenges.
When I look at myself in the mirror … well, maybe I’m not ready yet to follow Louise’s lead and tell myself, “Amy, you’re so wonderful,” but at least I can avoid picking out my flaws.
And I’ve gotta admit:
I like this change.
Sometimes I even try to think of three things I’m grateful for while I’m in the shower. Usually it’s easy—I’m grateful for my daughter, for a nice house to live in, and for enough money to pay the bills, for a start.
Maybe thinking more positively hasn’t resulted in me waking up looking like Little Miss Happy Face, but it’s helped me stop the spiral of depressing thoughts that makes it so easy to start off the day on the wrong foot.
I’ll probably always be a zombie in the mornings.
But a grateful zombie, rather than a miserable one.
Just don’t mention the mismatched socks.