Mornings are underrated. I consider them fundamental for the whole diurnal experience. What you do in the very first moments of your morning will fundamentally and inexorably shape your entire day. Most of the time you spend your mornings by routinely performing some habits, on auto pilot. Hence, your days will routinely unfold towards you, the same way, day after day, on auto pilot.
Consciously inserting your intentions in these very first moments will have a huge effect. Taking charge of those moments it’s like activating some subtle, unconscious triggers which will ultimately determine your whole daily experience, exactly the way you want. Mornings are fundamental. This is why I experimented a lot with my very first moments of the day.
Here are at least 33 tips to start your day, small changes which will transform your days by only spending 5 minutes every morning.
1. Write In Your Journal
I love the morning stillness and the unspoken promise of something ready to start. Mornings are fantastic for journaling. Whenever I do it, I feel like I already consumed several hours from that day and yet I’m only at the very beginning of it. Journaling acts like a mind emptier and out of nowhere I feel energized and ready to go. Not to mention that in the morning I have less inhibitors and my journaling is far more authentic.
2. Enjoy The Morning Silence
And do nothing. Just feel the silence and let it spread over your mind and body. I’m fascinated by all the little noises that are born from that morning silence: from my familiar house noises (wife and daughter waking up, steps, windows, doors) up to the neighborhood noises (car engines, low voices, small buzz). Everything starts in that silence and sometimes I think that if I focus enough on it I could actually predict, or even create all those little noises.
3. Be Grateful For Something 5 Minutes
Point your mind to something you’re really grateful for and stay there. Might be your family, your wealth, your health or just your present moment. Feel grateful for it. There’s nobody between you and that thing, there’s nobody watching or listening. You’re free to feel grateful and happy. And then start your day as usual. It’s only 5 minutes, yet the impact of such a day starter is overwhelming: whenever I’m doing it I feel like walking 2 centimeters above the road for the entire day.
4. Open Windows
Regardless of the current season. If it’s cold outside, even better. Open your bedroom windows, your living room windows, your kitchen windows. Let the fresh air inside, welcome the small buzz of the city waking up, silently watch the last forces of the night walking away. Let yourself be refreshed. The yesterday you is no longer there and the today you is slowly getting in shape. Those open windows will unconsciously allow you to receive change and novelty with much more ease during the day.
5. Throw Away A Useless Object
You’re going to spot it pretty easily if you put your mind to it. It often happens to me to stumble upon unneeded stuff in my house during the early morning. If it’s a chair staying in my way, maybe its place is not in my house. Maybe it’s a piece of paper or a wrecked device. I find joy and a subtle enthusiasm in throwing away things that are only cluttering my space, and doing it first thing in the morning makes it even more powerful.
6. Help Somebody
Write an answer to an old question, do part of a small chore, move an object out of somebody’s way. No need to be huge or visible. Just keep in mind the intention of being helpful immediately to somebody else. During the morning your mind is far more clear and you have access to more energy than usual. Hence, your helping activities will be much more effective if you decide to do them as the first thing after you wake up.
7. Meditate For 5 Minutes
EmptyÂ your mind and isolate from your environment. Focus on your breathe. If there are thoughts coming in your way, acknowledge their presence and then kindly ask them to go away. Meditating in the morning is easier, there are fewer perturbing factors. Even after a good sleep, your mind is still trying to find answers, to solve problems, to fight or resist. Do yourself a simple, yet solid service and pack your morning time with an extra meditation on top.
8. Think How To Help Somebody During The Day
This is different from number 6 in terms of the actual time of the helping act. Now you’re planing how to help somebody during the day, you’re visualizing the context and try to find a specific time in your schedule for this helping act. Again, doesn’t have to be huge, a piece of advice, facilitating something or a small gift. The mere act of planing how to help somebody will change the course of your entire day.
Like in getting physical. I’m not doing this every single day, but I’m doing it often enough. A part from your brain there’s a body, too. A collection of joints, muscles and bones. And in order to be balanced you have to take care of those too. The good news is that your body has a feedback mechanism for the good things you do to it: it’s called “endorphins”. Every time you start your day with a decent workout, you’ll be blessed with a decent rush of endorphins. Usually, it lasts until evening.
10. Spend 5 Minutes In The Garden
Alternatively, spend some times near your flowers. Or your terrace. Just be outside in the first minutes of the day, trying to breathe the fresh air and feel the vibe of the green life. Clear you mind and open your senses. Let your awaken body to synchronize with this frequency and don’t start the day until you completely immersed in this flow for at least 5 minutes. I seldom run into a fight or even got closer to some aggressive scene when I start my day like this.
11. Forgive Somebody
Let go. Forgive and forget. Morning are very good for that because you have so little inference from the outside world, only your own mind and personal history. Does it really matter that much? Feeling that grudge and anger towards somebody who hurt you? Yes, he hurt you, but it really matter that much? Forgiving somebody as the first thing in the morning makes me want to conquer the world the very next minutes. And it works really well with forgiving yourself too.
12. Think For 5 Minutes At Someone You Love
Again, that person may be your family, someone you loved at some point in your life or someone who just appeared. Keep that person in mind, imagine having a conversation or doing something together. Create an internal representation of a desired bond. Not only it will actually attract that person towards you (somehow) during the day, but what you think in those moments will add up to the relationship in a very mysterious way. It’s like what you think it’s already happening.
13. Read A Poem
Poetry, or any form of art, talks to your irrational mind. Usually, your morning is cluttered with rational thoughts and activities: get up and ready for the job, prepare the kids, get the morning tasks solved. Talking to your irrational mind will break this circuit, but it will do it creatively. For instance, my favorite morning poem is “If”, by Rudyard Kipling. Every time I read it, even if the day is packed with difficult tasks, somehow, I find the energy and right attitude to get over them. Totally irrational.
14. Make Coffee or Tea For Your Partner
I like this whole beverage ritual in the morning, I think it has something to do with deeply buried recollections of religious rituals we humans, as a species, performed during the history. There’s something sacramental about preparing the water, making fire, putting the right amount of tea or coffee. It’s like asking gods for benevolence. Only this time is not about gods, it’s about your partner. Paving your road through today with your partner blessing.
15. Write A Thank You Letter
You don’t have to send it, just write it. When I first experienced this I had a little bit of a shock. I realized I don’t know how to do it. And for whom. That was a sad shock. Not having somebody to say “thank you” in your life can bring in quite a sorrow. So, be sure to start at least one of your mornings with a “thank you” letter. Bring to the light people or events you are thankful for. If you say “thank you” to something first thing in the morning, you’re inviting those specific type of events into your life.
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16. Take A Day Off From Your Job
And use the rest of the day for yourself. Even if you’re self employed, or especially if you’re self employed, take a day off. And start it clean, from the early morning. Those free days are somehow bigger when I decide to have them unexpectedly. If I start my morning with the clear decision to take the day off, something very strange will happen: my businesses will run smoother without me. My blog traffic will spike. It’s like too much work means getting in the way of your own success.
17. Do Some Crafting For 5 Minutes
If you’re a man, fix something, replace a light bulb or use your screwdriver to harden some piece of furniture. If you’re a woman, modify some clothes. (Later update: You can do it the other way around, if you really think this is a sexist approach – read the related comments below. And please, get over it 🙂 it’s just a simple example, I never thought, nor do I will, that because you’re a woman or a man you should do ONLY a certain type of things. Are we cool now?) Just do something with your hands, without any preparation, in the morning silence. In a very surprising way, this morning crafting will unfold some new opportunities. You can find a solution to an old problem or you will solve something for somebody else. It’s like this morning crafting will actually make you craft the rest of your entire day.
18. Learn A New Word In A Foreign Language
Just one word. Every morning, for several weeks. I used to learn some hiragana and katakana only in the morning (and that proved really interesting during my first trip to Japan). It forces your brain to find parallel ways to solve problems and your body to stay focused on a small problem from the very beginning of the day. Again, in a very strange way, learning a new foreign word each morning makes me dream about foreign lands. Which is quite a way to start your day.
19. Imagine Your Morning in a New Country
How your morning will be in New Zealand? Or in Thailand? Or in Austria? If you’ve ever been there, try to remember the smells, the air, the noises. Waking up in a different country every morning might be a fantastic experience (I might do this one day, by the way). If you’ve never been there, just try to imagine your morning there. After spending 5 minutes in a distant country, getting back to your actual day will feel like coming home from a long trip. Which is, partially, true.
20. Go For A Short Walk
Like the first thing in the morning, before even having breakfast. Breathe the air, look at the neighborhood. Watch the morning light and hear the noises. Move around. When you got home, your day will be different. This short walk often acts like setting up the scene for something I want to happen. Walking around alone, before igniting the day, makes me feel like a director inspecting the stage. Everything looks cool, let’s make a great film today.
21. Write A Powerful Goal
Mornings are very good for writing goals. I especially like that time of the day for writing goals because I have very few interference from the outside world. Which makes me much more authentic. I value more the goals written in the morning because I am less influenced. I know for sure that during the morning I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, I’m just me and what I want. Some of my best health decisions are picked up during the morning.
22. Clean Your Desk
Again, this must be done before having breakfast, or before any other domestic task (and this also assumes you work from home, at some point). Put things in order, wipe the dust, prepare your working setup. And then start the day as usual. After having breakfast, interacting with your family or just finishing your morning routine, come back to your office. A shiny, fresh and neat vibration will welcome you. A short sign of appreciation from yourself.
23. Sing a Song
I do this all the time in the shower. And I highly recommend it. Despite what your neighbors may say (or even some of your early riser family members). Singing a song goes hand in hand with reading a poem. Doesn’t matter if you know how to sing. just go ahead and knock some “Let It Be” as loud as you can (“Let It Be” is my favorite shower song, by the way). If you hear me humming some tunes in my beard that’s a good sign I started with a loud song in the shower.
24. Read and Evaluate your Morning Phrase
Do you have a morning phrase? Craft one, it’s easy. Starting a day with a morning phrase it’s like a mental programming exercise for maximizing your potential. It may take even less than 5 minutes and it’s a powerful tool for energy channeling. The trick is to keep it for at least several weeks. But the advantage is that this exercise is very powerful. Wanna setup a millionaire mindset? Or just planning or quitting smoking? Put it in a morning phrase and use it.
25. Delete Some Email
Or some old, unneeded files. That’s the mirror in the virtual world of number 5. Remove the clutter. Get rid of old messages, logs or files. Be in the flow. They say you have to let go the current you in order to become who you really want. I used to be a packer. Making folders and packing and storing everything in my computer. Now I start my mornings every now and then with a refreshing session of file deletion. Making room for what the day may bring in.
26. Watch The Sunrise
Easiest of all and yet so underrated. There’s so much power and simplicity in watching the sunrise, connecting to the light and actually feeling how the Sun will start another day. And you’re there witnessing this cosmic process. Every time I watch the sunrise, being it at my home or in a foreign country, I have a subtle feeling of responsibility. This huge cosmic mechanism is turning around me as my playground: what am I going to do in it today?
27. Read Your Yesterday Journal
If you keep a journal, of course. Look at yesterday from the very first moment of your new day. What do you love about yesterday? What do you don’t like about it? Now you have the chance to change those things. Reading your journal first thing in the morning is a surprising experience. Seeing what you wrote without any noise and with a clear mind will reveal things that you didn’t noticed. Maybe because you didn’t like them?
28. Do A Short Yoga Session
You don’t have to be an expert yogi to start your day with a mild yoga session. I often find myself lighter and more flexible when starting the day with a short suite of Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation. It stretches your body and calm your mind. I once did this for more than 6 months, every single morning. It was perhaps the most calm and balanced period of my life. And besides calm and balance, what else do you need when you start your day?
29. Visualize 3 Moments From Yesterday
Keep your eyes closed and try to remember 3 moments from yesterday. It’s not reading about them in your journal, it’s trying to visualize them in your mind. First of all, the very selection of those 3 moments will tell you something about your current state. Are those moments embarrassing or happy? Second, keeping them live in your head will help you find a solution or a sequel to them. It will help you keep yesterday linked to today. Some people call this flow.
30. Visualize 3 Moments From Today
Can be practiced in tandem with the one above, or separately. Visualizing 3 moments from today means actually create those 3 moments. See yourself performing those actions, attending those meetings, saying those words or writing those sentences. It’s early in the morning and nobody is pressuring. You have the freedom to see yourself exactly as you want to be. In my experience, almost any of these “predicted” moments are actually happening during the day.
31. Take A Picture Of Yourself
I started this as a technical challenge a few years ago (trying to automate my Mac PhotoBooth) and proved to be enlightening. Not the actual process of taking a photo of myself each morning, but seeing those photos in a fast moving sequence months after. You can’t fool the camera in the morning. All your problems, joys, frustrations or thrills are so transparent in a photo taken in the first moment of the day. It’s like a message you send to your future self without even knowing the message.
32. Identify One Task To Be Canceled
It must be one. Out of your entire to do list for today there must be one task which can be canceled. Sometimes I wake up with the only thought of identifying my canceled task for the day. I usually chose this approach after a very intense and tiring yesterday. It give me a sense of freedom and flexibility. And most of the time the freed time will make room for something interesting, or at least surprising. It’s like opening your door to the unexpected.
33. Chose A Theme Of The Day
This works in tandem with your personal mission (if you don’t have a personal mission maybe it’s time to find one). Find one red stripe which will go through your entire day. Like making this day “the productivity day”. Or “the observation day”. Or “the money day”. This will be the dominant vibe of your entire day. By setting course in the very first moments of the morning you will maximize your chances to actually create your day on that exact theme. *** Already picked one? Great, now go ahead and pick one way to end your day. 😉
Like I told you, there is also an audio version of this blog post and it’s only $2.99.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.