How do you begin your day? Do you turn off the alarm whilst inwardly cursing time for going too fast and the day coming too soon? Do you jump out of bed, put your arms up in the air and shout ‘Yeah! It’s another day!’? Take a moment to think about your typical morning routine.
What you focus on – you become. And the reason why this is so important (!) is that our lovely protective mind wants to lead us in certain places which are sometimes completely contradictory to our own desires. Deep down we may want to change our job and pursue our passion but our mind will tell us that that is just a little bit too risky and that maybe we should wait a little, think about it properly, stick to what we know, stay where the money is.
To make long-lasting change in our lives we have to change our minds because; nothing has any meaning unless we give meaning to it. This means that the thing you’re most unhappy about in your life could be someone else’s dream goal. Let’s take your body shape, to someone else it could be the most amazing thing ever, they could feel so lucky if they had what you had – they could use it, decorate it and worship it in a way which you could never do for yourself.
Thus it’s not always what’s around you that’s wrong – it’s the meaning you’re giving it. A child with nothing in Haiti may be happier with his one bottle top to play with, but you’re sitting there looking at your small ‘dingey’ flat with disdain, you’re looking at your bank balance and wishing the figures were longer, you’re looking at your body and wishing it was thinner.
Now by writing this I don’t mean that you don’t need to also change the things around you, your body, your job – whatever it may be. But reality is that unless you realise that it’s not only the job (as an example) that’s the issue, that it’s also the way you see your job and the meaning you give or take from it – then the pattern will reoccur even if you manage to get a new one. You have to train your mind to be positive, grateful, excited and happy in the now – and then changes comes a lot easier, and happiness is a welcomed side effect.
Training your mind is something you need to do every day for the rest of your life. Buddhist monks who have meditated for years have extremely high happiness levels because they have trained their minds to be what they want them to be. Neuroplasiticity is the key; we can mould our brains to be whatever we want them to be. You can change the way you look at life. You can see what you want to see.
But you have to know what you’re looking for – because if you don’t, your mind will decide for you.
Here is how I currently start my day. This is something I am still tweaking and I encourage you to do the same to find what works for you.
1) Write down 3 recent things you are truly grateful for.
Recent means experiences that have happened in the recent past, perhaps the day before something really great happened to you or someone gave you an unexpected compliment. In any case the fundamental part of this is the truly grateful part. I have experimented with writing down 10 things or more, but then for me it just becomes a bore – I stop trying to find those which were really important. It becomes a numbers game. The idea is to pick out the little moments that really truly excited you and which you feel incredibly lucky to have experienced.
2) Write down 3 amazing things you have done recently.
The proof is in the actions. We can all talk and write – but the things you do reflect who you truly are. You can repeat a million times ‘I am loving and kind’ but if you are then nasty to someone, those words won’t make any long lasting change because your subconscious mind is analysing your actions every moment, forming the beliefs you hold of who you are. Focusing on the good you have done recently and what you are proud of, will make you feel good naturally because it is based on truth, and not on some airy-fairy edition of yourself which might never even get released.
3) Visualise your day going perfectly.
What are your plans for today? What resources or skills will you need to make use of? How could you make that lunch date go more the way you want it? What would you like to achieve by the end of the day – how will you feel? By doing this you are preparing your mind and body to get the most out of the day and you will be able to give more as a consequence. As a personal example – when I know I will be meeting someone I care about, I imagine giving them lots of love, care and attention because I know that will a) make me feel good b) get me what I desire in return.
4) Meditate for 10 minutes.
Set an alarm, listen to a youtube 10 minute meditation (there are tons!) or just roughly estimate 10 minute of meditation time. I know it’s hard, I know you don’t like it, but you need to do it. Being able to recognise thoughts for what they are, that they are not you but just mere accessories to your natural perfect state – makes it easier to control your actions and learn from what is going on in your mind.
5) Put on your favourite uplifting song and dance to it.
Noone’s watching. Just boogie, shake it – get some energy into your muscles. Smile, sing, mime if people are in rooms nearby. Make that song your early-morning happiness boost and change it if you get bored by it. It has been proved that people who dance are significantly happier than those who don’t.
Now you’re ready to start the day! Persevere – and do it even when you don’t feel like it – because those are the days you need it most. Plus, don’t just follow my word – tweak these exercises until you have found something that works for You. As long as you feel positive, raring to go and excited for the day – you’re on the way to training your mind to experience the best life you can.