One of the biggest issues that I hear consistently in my coaching and consultancy practice is that people feel they have no control over many (if any) aspects of their life. Guess what? They’re right! Most things in this world we don’t have control over. We don’t have control of the weather, if the plane flying over us at this moment loses its engine, and that engine squashes us, if we win the lottery, or if we get hit by a bus. But one thing we have total control over is our attitude. We can choose that at any moment, and it could be whatever we decide it to be.
Ultimately, we want it to be a positive attitude. (I mean, it’s just as time consuming to have a negative attitude as a positive attitude; it might as well be positive!) But, just because we have full control over our attitude, sometimes being positive isn’t the easiest thing to do.
In my opinion, it all starts in the morning. If we can behave positively in that precious period of time between opening our eyes and being fully cognizant; you know, before our subconscious leaves us and our conscious mind takes control, we have a gigantic head start over the rest of our day.
Here are four behaviors that you have absolute total control over to get your day off to a rocking start:
1. Get up earlier
You have a choice over when you get up. Choose to get up earlier so that your day starts off less stressed! I hear so many people say that they wake up when their children and spouse arise, and then between making breakfasts, lunches, getting people out the door on time, and the stress of personally getting ready to leave, these people hit their car at 7:30 and are white knuckling it all the way to work totally stressed.
And, if by chance there is a traffic jam or something else that holds them up, the stress builds, especially if they are late to work. Then, the first thing that happens at work makes them explode. Why not get up half an hour or maybe even an hour earlier just so you can take your time and perhaps celebrate for 10 minutes more in a hot, soapy shower, or maybe spend 30 minutes catching up on that novel that you purchased a month ago and haven’t started yet. It’s your time, make use of it.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
2. Do something for yourself
Especially, if you get up earlier, you’ll have some time for you. The key is to use that time and not feel guilty or selfish about. Sometimes that personal time is all that it takes to give us perspective and enough separation between our daily thoughts to allow for a period of mindfulness to occur. Maybe it’s reading, maybe it’s watching reruns of The Big Bang Theroy; it doesn’t matter, do it and celebrate it!
The first thing you should do when you get out of bed is develop the habit of smiling. Before you blow this off as an insignificant bit of psychobabble, stop doing what you’re doing and take a moment to sit upright and have your face in a neutral position (not smiling or not frowning). Now smile. Can you feel the tension on your lips as they are spreading? Can you feel the pressure on your cheeks?
Now think for a second about how you feel while you are smiling. I bet you feel a little bit happier. The physical act of smiling tends to put us in a better mood. So, smile and do it on purpose! William James, the noted 20th-century Harvard psychologist said, “We don’t smile because we are happy, we are happy because we smile.”
4. Think about what you are grateful for
Before you start your day in earnest, think about the answer to this question: What am I grateful for? Either in your calendar, or on a sheet of paper, or, better yet, in a gratitude journal, list two or three things each day that you are grateful for. You can be grateful for simple things, things you may take for granted, like walking, or being able to digest a good meal.
Perhaps your gratitude may tend to the more complex. It doesn’t matter, put yourself in a state of mindful gratitude and you will find your day is naturally better. If you are looking for a more positive attitude by jumpstarting your morning, thinking of several things that you are grateful for and documenting them is a gigantic step in that direction.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
There you have four behaviors that you have absolute total control over. And if you institutionalize these behaviors into the realm of habitual, you will find that your attitude becomes more positive.
I have tested these with clients and even more important with myself. I have found them each to work and be very beneficial. So, before you blow these off, give it a month to install the behavior, then a month to practice. If after two months these practices don’t work for you, well try something different, after all, it is your day!
What are some of your morning habits? Comment below!
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