What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up? If your answer is “check my email,” “curse my alarm clock,” or “start making a to-do list,” you are missing the chance to begin your day with the sense of peace and purpose that will give you focus. And it just takes one minute.
First, what not to do: no email. It can wait until after breakfast. In fact, your bedroom should be a sanctuary free from anything that connects you to the outside world. No smartphones, BlackBerrys or iPads. No television. Just privacy, comfort and quiet.
And no exhaustion. As Arianna Huffington has explained so compellingly, we cannot shortchange our need for sleep.
So, now you are rested and it is time to wake up. Take one minute to open yourself to your day. Begin with a 30-second stretch to help your body adjust from sleep to being awake.
And while you are stretching, think of one thing you are really looking forward to between right now and when you come back to bed tonight. Will you start something you’ve been looking forward to or finish a project you are glad to see end? See a friend? Call a family member? Go somewhere you enjoy? Listen to a favorite podcast on the commute?
If you cannot think of one element of the day that will give you a feeling of happiness or satisfaction, create one. Decide that this will be the day to wear that scarf or shirt or piece of jewelry or fragrance you were saving for a special occasion. Resolve to reach out to someone you have missed. Get that exercise you told yourself you did not have time for. Look ahead to make sure the rest of the mornings this week will give you something to look forward to.
Now, think of one person you really love and just take 15 seconds to focus on those feelings. Not about how that person feels about you or what you need to tell that person to do or what you wish he or she would say. Just focus on the feeling of unconditional love and the elements that make that person so endearing.
Is someone else in the room? When the stretch is over, say, “Good morning.” Let the person who shares your bedroom know you are grateful to have them there. If it is a child who has come in to wake you, take a moment for a cuddle and ask what he or she is looking forward to today.
Then get up. Look out of the window and listen to the sounds outside. Think of three achievable but meaningful goals for the day — small ones like “smile five times” or “pay my bills” or “call my mother” or bigger ones like “turn in that assignment” or “straighten out the kitchen counter.” Then when you go to bed at night you can reflect back on a day well spent.
You are ready to start the day.