Purpose//

How To Refine Your Mornings For A Happy, Creative Start To The Day

Thoughts and tips on optimizing your entire being and committing to excellence

Bisceglia, Italy // Photo: Connor Di Leo.

There is no shortage of material online or in self-development literature that will tell you how to perfect your morning routine so you begin your day with a supercharged mind and body. This article is not intended to present the “ideal routine” or tell you exactly how your mornings should unfold. It’s about finding what works for you, because, simply put, you are a unique snowflake!

The key to finding your own process is through arming yourself with knowledge, experimenting, and perfecting a system that works for you. What is important, however, is that your routine includes a balance of activities that get your entire being into a state of harmony.

The steps outlined later in this article are more like templates, and they leave you with the freedom to choose what you fill these templates with. The emphasis is on optimizing and uniting mind, body, and soul to be in a state of positive performance from the get-go. So, without further ado, let’s get started on crafting your personalized, epic, and game-changing morning kickoff to make sure your day is universally aligned.


Finding Your Flow

If you’ve been lucky enough to encounter the concept of Flow, you’ll know that there are certain activities in life that not only make you feel happy, present and fully engaged, but also serve as a gateway to your highest purpose. It is important to start your mornings with at least one “flow activity”, so that you begin the day in a state of euphoric presence and deep connection. The concept of Flow is outlined below, by the guy who literally wrote the book:

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author of Flow: The Psychology of Happiness)

Take a moment to consider the times in your life when you felt that your body, mind, or soul was “stretched to its limits” to achieve something intrinsically worthwhile, meaning that the activity was of your own choosing. Something you were, or are, very passionate about. Reflect on some of these times now.

For me, these moments fall into three categories: mind, body and soul.

  • A “mind flow” experience for me is anything that pushes my mind to grow. This could be meditation, reading, or listening to material that engages my mind and challenges my perceptions.
  • A “body flow” experience is clearly some form of exercise. For me, that’s yoga, running, swimming, or dancing.
  • A “soul flow” experience is something spiritually challenging and nourishing, which is more difficult to pinpoint in terms of an external experience, but for me the pinnacle representation of this is writing, playing music, or creating art of any kind.

So, how do we apply these three concepts of flow to our mornings?

Dialing in Your Routine

Basically, this is meant to be fun. There’s a lot of subtle “this is how it should be” vibes underlying most of what I’ve read about mourning routines. I want to approach it differently and emphasize the fact that while structure is great, your mornings are yours, and therefore it makes sense that you are the designer.

This is especially true if you are busy during the rest of the day with a job, school, family, or any other activities that involve you giving your time to something or someone other than yourself.

So, bearing in mind that this routine should be flexible, experimental, and catered towards you as an individual, here are the “templates”, for you to experiment with to build your perfect morning:

  • Mind: meditation / reading or listening to inspiring material
  • Body: physical activity that gets your energy and blood moving
  • Soul: creating art / journalling /expressing your internal world

That’s it really. Ideally, I will spend 20 minutes on each, totaling one hour. This means waking up an hour and ten minutes earlier(ten minutes to pee, brush my teeth, etc…) than when I would like to hop in the shower, get ready, and do the breakfast dance. I’m human though, and there are some days where I can only pull off 15 or 30 minutes of the routine.

The great thing about this routine is that it’s both collapsible and expandable. Meaning you could spend 5 minutes on each activity if you’re pressed for time(don’t make a habit of it), or an hour on each if you’ve got that luxury.

Remember, every day is new and special. Treat your mornings accordingly.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice” – Heraclitus

Experimentation

Just play around with it. Make a list of activities that you enjoy and that are feasible to accomplish in the morning. Have a week or two where you experiment with these mind, body, and soul activities. Try changing the order and combinations of activities. For example:

(Meditation: 20, Yoga: 20, Journalling: 20) — this is my ideal.

or

(Free Drawing: 10, Reading: 20, Cardio: 30)

or

(Tai Chi: 5, Reading the News: 5 , Gratitude Practice: 5)

The combinations are endless. 

My advice is to treat it like a game. Play. Learn. Evolve. Refine. And then….

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you’ve played around with combinations for a while, you’ll most likely find yourself gravitating to a certain process. Trust yourself, and know that what you’ve landed on has a purpose. Keep the flexibility and fun, but try doing the same routine for at least one month to really engrain it into your psyche. Do it. Have fun, but do it.

Try to create something in your morning routine. Whether this be a haiku, a journal entry, a drawing, or a song. Do this just for the sake of doing it, without any expectation of reward or validation.

There’s great value to ensuring that there’s always at least one purely creative or expressive activity in your morning routine. This is extremely important, because it will set the tone for the rest of your day being a creative and productive one.

Willpower is a muscle, and when it becomes strong, you actually experience more freedom in life. When your routine becomes a habit, even if you have days or weeks “off the wagon”, your morning process will be there, resting in your subconscious, ready to support you once again.

Conclusion

Remember, this is not a checklist or a rigid structure for you to force upon your mornings. This is meant to serve as an easy introduction to you becoming your own guide. The process of experimentation outlined above is what I’ve used to find what I feel will be my foundation-level morning routine for the rest of my life, give or take a few hangovers or jet-lagged weekends. There’s always room to improve, learn, and play.

Be gentle with yourself. Be patient.

Use this process to find your center and start your days on top, feeling creative, enthused, and alive.

Wake up and awaken.

Good morning 🙂


Originally published at medium.com

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