We’ve all had mornings when we wake up on the “wrong side of the bed.” On these mornings, everything seems off, and unless you do something to shake off the feeling, the whole day can be a bust. A bad morning can really give your entire day a negative slant, and that’s just not the sort of day you you’re looking for.
A rising tide of research in the field of “positive psychology” has led to some remarkable insights about how simple shifts to your routine can help you start your day off right, and radiate that positivity throughout your entire day. It’s true: we are entirely in control of our mindset, and even if we wake up feeling negative, this negativity can be dissolved. It’s up to you to start your day in a positive light.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, author and happiness researcher Shawn Achor refers to the benefits of positive mindset when he says, “Your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral, or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.”
Here is a list of simple tips that you can do in the morning that can help transform your outlook on the entire day:
– Put a pen and paper on your nightstand: One of the best ways to have a more positive day is to make it a habit to “bookend” your day with positivity. The easiest way to do this is with two very simple writing prompts:
1. What went well: Before you go to sleep, simply write down three things that went well today. They can be simple things like, “My dinner was tasty” or, “I beat the traffic on the way home from work,” or more profound thoughts about life or love… anything goes, as long as it went well today. Even on the toughest days, you can find at least three things that went well. Write them down.
2. Three things I’m grateful for: In the morning, first take a look at last night’s “what went well list” and make a new entry that includes three things that you are grateful for. This brings to mind people (or animals), places, or events, that bring you gratitude. Write them down. Then, read them to yourself. Doing this every morning immediately brings the positive things in your life to the forefront of your consciousness.
– Move: Your body was built to move and nothing gets the endorphins pumping quite like exercise. My go-to suggestion is walking for half an hour each day, at a brisk pace if possible. If you don’t have half an hour in the morning, walk for as long as you can, or jog, run, swim, or do yoga (and get your half hour of walking in later!). Even if it’s a short burst, morning exercise will help set your day off on the right track.
– Have a real conversation: Instead of checking in with your “friends” on social media… call one of them. Make it a habit to have a real conversation rather than small talk about the weather. Research has shown that less small talk and more real conversation is associated with greater happiness.
– Keep flowers in your house: A remarkable 2007 study done at Harvard demonstrated that simply having a bouquet of flowers enhanced mood and energy in study participants.
– Eat a nutritious breakfast. A healthy breakfast can give you the energy and sustenance you need to make your day a positive one. Be sure to include a source of high quality protein, such as organic eggs, beans and rice, quinoa, or hummus. If you don’t have time to cook in the morning, prepare yourself something the night before.
If you give this morning routine a try, you may soon find that your days are smoother sailing. It’s all about perspective, so make yours positive!
– Dr. Joshua Levitt