“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set your own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
A single day is analogous to our life journey but on a smaller scale. We can have all the hope in the world, we can put our ducks in a row, we can be as positive as possible and still there are events and people’s behavior and choices which others make that are out of our control.
However, in the midst of much that seems out of our control, we have far more power than we might realize to ensure the quality of our days, which adds up to revealing that we have great power to cultivate a life of rich quality.
How exactly can we go about seizing our days? By starting each day wisely. Below are 11 ways to start smart.
1. Keep what you can control in your control for as long as possible
Now, I know, we also need to let go and be present as when we are too rigid, we become inflexible. But how we begin our day is different. Keep the calm and the peace as long as possible before what you can’t control begins. For example, you cannot control what news you will hear when you turn on the radio, the television or open the newspaper, so delay doing so. Instead, awake to soft music, or a favorite uplifting song that motivates you to begin in a manner suited best to your disposition.
2. Eat a smart breakfast
Select a protein and fiber rich breakfast (my favorite choice), hydrate immediately upon waking up to flush toxins and awaken your whole body. Drink more hot water at breakfast, perhaps with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice as well, to improve digestion (hot water alone will help with digestion, but adding a touch of lemon often makes the sipping experience a bit more flavorful).
3. Awake the mind without stressing it out
Yes, inevitably, our minds will be awaken eventually with the work that is ahead of us, requests from our clients, children, customers, etc., but why not awaken your mind with a fun challenge, something to look forward to each morning? As I shared in episode #191’s Petit Plaisir, I have been thoroughly enjoying my daily mini puzzle from the New York Times. It takes often fewer than two or three minutes, and I feel I have accomplished something (no matter how simple or small) and I have given my brain a mini workout as well.
4. Let the mind rest with a different exercise – meditation
I know I have talked often about the benefits of meditation and my long journey toward finally being able to meditate daily, but speaking from my own experience, I see the benefits of the incorporation of this daily practice on my mind and overall quality of the rest of my day. For three to five minutes (that is all I do), it works for me; I sit, listen to my Headspace and practice quieting my mind. One quandary I have heard others share is they do not think they can sit still for that long. My first suggestion would be to begin with just a few minutes. If nothing else, see it as a moment to take a break. It’s not about stopping your mind, but rather being aware of what your mind is doing and bringing it back to the present. In other words, it is merely being cognizant and observant. In other words, becoming in control of your thoughts rather than letting your thoughts pull you along through life.
5. Watch an inspiring YouTube video
Whether it is a new episode of a channel you subscribe to, a TEDTalk you have been wanting to watch or a short favorite motivational speech, watch it before you begin your day (or listen to it). A reader recently sent me this TEDx Talk, The Art of Being Yourself (see below), and after watching it before I began my day, I was inspired, certain and determined that the day would indeed be wonderful so long as I just did one simple thing, be myself – something that was entirely within my control.
6. Prioritize goals/tasks for the day
I was recently reading an article which shared 14 morning rituals successful executives swear by, and one idea grabbed my attention as it was something I had never tried, but realized it entirely in the vein of choosing quality over quantity: Each morning write down three things of importance you will focus on completing that particular day. Just three, no laundry-list. Then focus on doing just those three things and doing them well.
I must admit, I do enjoy the ticking off of items on my “to-do” list, but some can be quite simple and unnecessary to write down. Often those tasks we do out of habit don’t fulfill us when we complete them because we would do them without truly having to remember. But it is the large tasks, the challenging tasks, the tasks that take our full and undivided attention that upon completing them, we feel a sense of accomplishments and they add to the journey we are following to build the life we wish to build.
7. Put down the technology for a limted time
Another idea shared in the article mentioned in #6 is a set amount of time in which you sit down without your phone, iPad or a screen connected to wi-fi and either read, journal, sip your tea/coffee and simply relax while you gaze at the sunrise, or work on the three goals for the day which were mentioned above. Closely associated with #1, when we choose to block out a certain amount of time in the morning without our technology, we are putting ourselves in the driver’s seat and taking control to set the tone for our day to the best of our ability.
8. Enjoy a deep stretch
Often the best time I have found for a good stretch is before or after my moment of meditation. Whether after a handful of sun salutations to warm my body up before sitting down to meditate or engaging in classic stretches after my meditation (hands and arms above my head and toes pointed out long and in a straight line), simply doing so awakens the body, encourages deep breathing and thus brings more calm into the moment.
9. Snuggle – give love
Whether you snuggle with your partner, your children, your pets or send and receive a text of “whoop whoop – this is going to be a great day!” with a close friend who does not live with you, give love to someone you love. The act of giving and sharing our affection is a magnet to receive it as well. But even when we simply give it, the feeling can be exhilarating when we see the comfort we have provided for someone else.
10. Go for walk outside
Whether for your daily exercise regimen or simply a walk out to get the newspaper to say hello to the day, step outside before the hustle and the bustle (or at least before you have to be part of the hustle and bustle). The fresh air, the soft breeze, even the drops of rain or snow that may be falling will help you remain present and appreicative, again, setting the proper tone for your upcoming day.
11. Read an inspiring quote
During the first four or so years of blogging, I would tweet out a “Thought to Ponder” for each day of the week. I no longer do this as regularly, but someone who does whom I admire is Hoda Kotb. As I now follow fewer than 300 people on Twitter, she is one of the first tweets I see when I check out my feed in the morning. I also recently began following @thebehappyproject which also shares a quote each day on Instagram. From time to time (in fact yesterday – check Highlights on IG, and click on “Brain Food”) I will share a quote I come across randomly and want to share, and on Instagram I do share #tsllquotables. But whoever or whatever you look to each morning, choose a source that will lift you up and set you on the right path to curate a beautiful day no matter what may come your way.
When it comes down to the quality of our days, it is how we navigate them that will determine how we feel when we go to bed each evening. So why not grab on to the new day just as it begins and seek with determination a beautiful start each day of the year?
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode #139
Image: TSLL IG