How to engineer yourself a great day: Three simple steps
We’ve all heard the concept of getting out of bed on the wrong side. In fact, it can often be used against us by someone who, in a moment of irritation, may not like what we are saying or doing. We often hear the question in a snide tone ‘Oohh, did someone get out of bed on the wrong side?’ And perhaps you’ll agree, if you are feeling in any way below par, stressed or challenged, the last thing that is going to help matters, is that question!
The truth is, whichever side of the bed we rise from in the morning, we are not guaranteed to feel good, and equally, we are not always destined to have a great day. The good news is though, we can cleverly engineer our mornings (and evenings) to become great staging areas, like a green room at just the right temperature setting, filled with comforts and goodies, with an exquisite ambience, giving us a much better chance of bringing to life days full of greatness.
No matter what preliminary preparation we partake in though, we will still likely be faced with challenges, interactions we prefer to not have, long commutes, missed deadlines or grumpy children; but with a better handle on the basics, aka how we feel inside, it changes everything, and we instantly begin to emanate a different vibe and then, the way we experience the world shifts for the better. By following these three steps we can begin to positively impact our day by effecting our own inner state which is made up of the contents of our inner world, like for example our thoughts, emotions and mood.
Before you say it, I know first-hand the reality of busy mornings, filled with responsibilities and maybe lack of sleep, but something to have in mind and maybe aim for over time, is waking up early enough so that you can set the tone of your day before your responsibilities kick in. I’ll leave the logistics to you, but please understand the transformational capacity of this small adjustment. There is something extremely powerful about getting yourself in check before the demands, hurrying and interactions of the day begin, and I believe you will come to love and cherish those moments once you get used to them.
It was drummed into us as kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this couldn’t be more accurate. Although not always easy, let’s say that a nourishing breakfast, or at least some kind of breakfast is being consumed already. On a side note, this may be a great opportunity for you to re-asses your morning choices, perhaps smoothie could be a replacement for the coffee and croissant or muffin on the go? We know that nourishing our body is important for a great day, but what about the rest of the components that make up our state?
The main area I will focus on here is the mind, since it is pretty much the CEO, COO, CFO and CMO of your life, all at the same time. Glance back to what happened this morning when you first opened your eyes. I’m imagining that soon after waking, your thoughts began to flood into your awareness. On days where the mood is positive upon waking that’s not too much of an issue, but, how often does that actually happen? Thoughts that involve the to do list, the long arduous day ahead, anxieties or the remnants of issues left over from the day before are usually running the show. We want to aim to take control of our unruly mind, before it takes control of us, and in turn, our day.
When you feel yourself waking up, or when the alarm first goes off, try to wait a few minutes before opening your eyes. Relax into yourself and let your breath fill your body. Do a quick body scan to check where you may be carrying tension and allow yourself to soften and let it go before rushing into seizing the day or letting seize you! It can help to read a few paragraphs of an inspiring book or listen to inspirational or motivational audios for a few minutes before jumping out of bed or even while you apply makeup, shower, iron your shirt or make the kids breakfast. Another powerful way to flip on your greatness switch is to run through a few things in your mind that you feel grateful for, starting with simple things like a hot shower, or cuddles in bed. It is near on impossible to feel anything but great, when you are feeling sincerely grateful.
Take back your power
We are in the height of the information age and it is truly amazing, I feel. Business meetings can be set up within minutes between people in different cities, and news can travel around the globe, to and from the most remote places in the world, exactly as it is happening. We can keep in touch with our friends and family daily and instantly and we can know about the latest trends and dying fads in real time. News, whether positive or negative is found not just in our newspapers and on our T. V’s but also on our social media feeds, which is where we are spending most of our time, when we are online.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above. Keeping in the loop, keeping in touch, sharing, connecting and communicating; but the instant, fast paced nature of our time can often leave us feeling anxious, depleted, unhappy and lost. Any behavior that we carry out by default without either being aware of it or the reason behind it, can become a strain, creating toxicity within our mind, emotions and in turn physical body. Taking in new, unexpected, stressful or negative information before we have recalibrated our state in the morning will likely wear us out before the day has started.
Check in with your current morning ritual and notice what you carry out daily, that you believe you need to kick start your day, that could be swapped out for a five-minute mindfulness meditation, gentle stretching or an express power workout instead. Anything that is outside of us, that we are reliant on to feel good, has a definitive hold over us, and that is stressful because we become a slave to it. Maybe your caffeine or Facebook fix is the only way you feel you can start your day, and granted it takes effort to coax ourselves from old habit to new, but I assure you, there’s value to be found in trying a different approach. Experiment, explore and above all take back your power. The rituals we carry out daily matter most, so once they are in check there’s plenty of fun to be had on weekends and vacations, although I imagine once you get used to starting your day in an empowering way, you’ll become so addicted to feeling good you’ll be reluctant to revert for too long.
The night before the morning of…
The morning matters, but so does the night before. Imagine going to bed in the clothes you wore for the entire day, sliding into bed with a full face of make up on, or bringing your coworkers, gym buddy, kids, employees or cab driver into bed with you each night. How we prepare for a night of slumber isn’t just about showering and getting into our comfiest attire; it is also about cleansing, decluttering and discarding the gunk of the day that isn’t visible on the outside. The mental, emotional, physical and spiritual accumulations that we gather throughout our days from conversations, meetings, interactions, problems, other people’s moods, and our own inner struggles can weight heavy on us. In fact, we often can chug through an entire day not feeling great and not knowing why.
Rounding off the day clearly and concisely allows for not only sleep that is restful and rejuvenating, but it also means a much bigger scope of opportunity to wake up in a less tense, more happy state. Taking some time to process emotions of the day, identify negative thoughts patterns, judgements, fears, or irritations that arose, is like taking the trash out at the end of the night and sorting through the recycling while doing so. As well as dealing with issues at hand, we can be faced with people and situations who rub us up the wrong way. Understanding these triggers is invaluable to us learning about ourselves, and our past experiences that have affected and hurt us, that are still interfering with our success, freedom and happiness in current life.
By allocating five, ten or fifteen minutes each night before bed, to lay everything out on the table and sort through it, write in a journal, and or sit in stillness and silence, to allow the mind to calm down, means we will less likely become triggered or affected by occurrences during the days. During mediation, our mind, body and emotions settle down, like the sparkly snow in a snow globe gently falling to the bottom, revealing the true image of the scene. When you have time to descend back into yourself, small grievances, unfounded fears, self-righteous outlooks and imprints of other people’s stresses and negativity melt away, leaving you feeling more centered, self-aware and ready to make it another great day.