It is all very well cramming our minds full of inspiration messages so we can find success in our lives, but it is what we do every day that determines whether we find the life we want or not.
We can read all the words of motivation we want but if we do not wake up in the morning and start taking action then it is all wasted. For this reason, I believe our early morning routines are essential to self-development.
What we do as soon as we awake in the morning sets the mood for the whole day. Our minds wake up ready for suggestion so I feel we have an opportunity every day to set ourselves up for success.
Author James Allen was a great believer in getting the start of the day right. In his collection of essays entitled ‘Byways of Blessedness’, Allen wrote: “You will find that much happiness or unhappiness follows upon the right or wrong beginning of the day, and that, when every day is wisely begun, happy and harmonious sequences will mark its course, and life in its totality will not fall far short of the ideal blessedness.”
We all react in different ways to the first hours of the day but I believe there are some words of motivation and general guidelines to help you set your mood for the day ahead.
1. Get enough sleep.
Logically your routine the night before will help how you wake up the next day. You can prepare for a good day by getting a full nights sleep.
It is always worth getting to bed a little earlier to ensure you get the relaxed sleep your body demands. As you rest, your body repairs itself and any growing takes place so treat yourself to a good sleep.
In general terms it is worth having a relaxing warm bath before bed. Read a good book: avoid watching television or using the computer too close to your bedtime as this will stimulate your mind too much. Listen to relaxing music as you climb into bed too: this will also help your mind wind down. Hearing words of motivation at this time will also help.
If you need to get up earlier in the morning, go to bed sooner.
2. Set your mind straight.
As your mind is receptive first thing, take advantage, get out of bed and spend a few minutes in quiet thought. Perhaps read a few words of motivation from a book and meditate for a while. This would be a great time to practise visualizing a successful day and the life you want to achieve; repeating words of motivation and affirmation early in the morning also have the most impact.
Some authors suggest spending time listing the things in life for which you feel gratitude, such as health and family, so this would be a great time to do this too.
In some cities, the sight of individuals practising Tai Chi early morning in the park is quite common; gentle exercise is a great way to loosen up the body (especially if you are older) and it make you feel good and ready to face the day. There is also a certain smug feeling that feeling healthy first thing gives you!
The type of exercise you do is entirely up to you but Tai Chi and Yoga are popular. Teachers of these two disciplines tell us that a set of morning exercises will wake you up and prepare you like nothing else. Another favourite is a short run.
But my personal choice is to go for a cycle ride and, about halfway round, stop in a peaceful green place and practice a series of Tai Chi exercises. Perfect.
So many of us are in such a rush to get out of the door in the morning that we skip breakfast altogether. And yet that first meal is as important as any words of motivation.
First thing in the morning your body is like a hedgehog coming out of hibernation: all the growing and repairs have taken place and now you need nutrition to face the day ahead. Eating a good meal now provides the energy you need.
Studies show those who eat a good breakfast are less prone to conditions related to obesity and have improved mental functions throughout the day.
Take a look at HealthyEating.sfgate.com for more information on the benefits of eating breakfast.
5. Fresh Air.
Getting outside in all weathers in the morning helps your feeling of well being.
Taking your exercise outside gives you the opportunity to reflect on the words of motivation you may have already read. In any case, particularly if you can get out into a natural environment, a few minutes in the fresh air outside will help your well being: sufferers of depression are often encouraged to get out and experience the world around them. This can be especially beneficial if you spend most of your time indoors during the day.
The ideal situation is cycling or walking to work when you can get fresh air, exercise and tranquil time before you start your day.
At one stage I was working shifts that meant I had to start in an office around dawn. I was very fortunate to cycle to work across fields and a nature reserve and witness the beauty of the sun rising. It made my day so much better.
James Allen would walk up to the headland above his home every morning before he started writing his philosophical works.
Each person will find a different morning routine will suit them: nonetheless the above pointers will help find the right way.
Experiment with what works best for you and, once you find the ideal morning start, use it every morning. You will find it will set you up for the day as much as any words of motivation.
And you will feel happier, be healthier and perform better. The life you dream about is more likely to be yours as a result.
“The character of the whole day depends on the way it is begun.”