Mornings. Most people don’t love them. For most of us, they are a blur. The part of the day that is really disconnected from the more “awake” part of the day.
I recently read a book called Miracle Morning that completely changed not only my perceptions of mornings, but my life as well.
Here is a synopsis:
“The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed To Transform Your Life… (Before 8AM) is one of the highest rated books on Amazon, with over 1,200 five-star reviews, and is being widely regarded as one of the most life-changing books ever written.
But what began as a book, has become an international movement, translated into 17 languages and transforming hundreds of thousands of lives, around the world. And it just may be the simplest, most effective way to create the life you’ve always wanted, and faster than you ever thought possible.
Based on the premise that how you start your day largely determines the quality of your day, your work, and your life, The Miracle Morning gives you the ultimate morning ritual and teaches night owls how to beat the snooze button, even if you’ve never been a morning person.”
The author of the book, Hal Elrod was involved in a car crash that left him dead. Literally. He was eventually able to recover and through his own journey of rebuilding his life after several additional setbacks, developed the Miracle Morning routine to transform his own life. And it worked for him and now it has gone on to impact literally hundreds of thousands of lives and an entire community has arisen from it that practice and share their techniques and personal stories.
In a nutshell, the book is all about developing morning routines that involve some or all of the following LifeSAVERS as he calls them: Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading, Scribing. But it’s not a hard set of rules — Hal describes the core components of his philosophy and let’s you go out and build your own practice.
The book had a profound impact on me personally.
For most of my working life, I followed the same routine. I was an early riser and as soon as I woke up, I was in “go” mode. Check emails, read the news, get organized for the day, etc. Intense and focused on my missions for the day from the second I woke up. And guess what? As a result of that first-thing mindset, I remained in that mindset all of my waking hours. Maybe at the end of the day, I would give myself “permission” to chill and relax for a little bit before bed. Just a few good deep breaths and then it was lights out!
And the next day the same ritual. For 30 years.
So for me, Miracle Mornings changed my life. Literally. It made me see that I was establishing my daily life condition from the first second I woke up and if that condition was stressed, anxiety-ridden, then that was the state of my entire existence. I didn’t realize how important it was to set the tone for my day from the very moment I woke up, and how by changing those habits, I would be so much freer of stress, anxiety and tension.
For most of my life, I have had decent habits. I always exercised and ate well. Tried to find work/life balance as often as I could. But I was clearly a workaholic and driven by my own fears inside my head and overall sense of personal inadequacies. And that drive nearly killed me. While my work life was going great, my insides were a mess and I was deeply unhappy. My stress was out of control and I had few tools to help me manage and ultimately defeat that constant anxiety and pressure I felt ad nauseam. I didn’t sleep well and my mind just felt like it was racing all the time.
Fortunately I found many answers. In my buddhist practice. In practicing mindfulness. In meditation. And in constant practice and studying. But something really important was missing and Miracle Morning was the missing link. It showed me that starting my day with the proper mindset would stay with me the entire day and night. Previously, I would just do all of those things AFTER my day started….I would exercise midday or at night, I would meditate when I could. I would do all those things after I was already stressed and wired.
As a result of discovering this book and the power of a positive start to the day, I developed my own morning routine and I felt 100% better immediately. My own routine looks like this….
Meditation: Before I do anything, I meditate and quiet my mind for 10 minutes sitting in silence and get control of my thoughts and anxieties.
Spiritual reading: Rather than turn to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal and get stressed from reading about all of the shit happening in the world, I start the day reading for a few minutes from my spiritual books, websites, blogs, etc. Many of these readings can be as simple as positive quotes on mindfulness and gratitude, but it really does work wonders and sets you up in a positive mood first thing.
Chanting: As a buddhist, we chant. We have a certain mantra we use in our particular buddhist faith, it’s about finding your buddha nature inside of yourself. It’s where I find strength. Whatever your particular faith, to practice it for a few minutes before you start your day can be a very powerful reminder of what your life’s purpose is. It also teaches tremendous humility and helps you surrender to something bigger, higher than yourself.
Exercise: For me, it’s typically yoga each day for the impact it has on my breathing and mindfulness practice.
Healthy conversation: In my house, I am blessed to have young kids at home and so rather than rush out the door first thing, I am fortunate to be able to spend a few minutes with my family expressing my gratitude and love for each of them.
Mindful eating: I know this sounds crazy, but I actually now practice mindfulness when I am eating. Especially breakfast. I used to just see food as something you shoved in your face to get some energy for the day. But now I see it as a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. So I slowed down my eating, thought about what it was I was going to eat the night before and actually get excited about it. So I appreciate every bite and am grateful for the food in front of me.
That’s my morning routine. I do it everyday. Seven days a week. It’s had a profound impact on my life condition. Stress is almost gone, same with anxiety. Nothing else around me has really changed, but my habits and thoughts have. And thats all it took.
I know many in my community of friends and family have kids and busy lives and so I get that this is hard. But for me, it’s worth it. I get up as close to 5 am as possible and force myself to make the time to start each day the right way. And while I may be getting less sleep than perhaps I did in the past, my sleep is better and I am truly excited to start each day with certainty as opposed to uncertainty and anxiety. I now can start the day with the knowledge that I will be in control of my thoughts and state of mind from the second I wake up.
Think about your own morning routine. Perhaps there are some things you might want to start the day doing that will set your mind in the right state first thing. Whether it’s meditating, walking, reading, etc., I found a routine that works for me so I hope you can find one that works for you.
Thank you Miracle Morning for helping me discover the power and beauty of starting each day in the right way.