Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key. The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your every day living. Quite often we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.
So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.
2. Writing down your most important tasks
This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life. For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community. What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.
Writing down your most important tasks in the morning, helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritise and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.
3. Affirm your goals in writing or drawing
This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallising your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space. Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalise those goals by giving them form. In return they are reflected back in your subconscious mind thus reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.
An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise”. Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present. Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarises a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.
4. Qi Gong exercises
According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality. There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden.
5. Hot Water with Lemon
Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning. Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.
6. Rise Earlier
The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious. For example you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals! So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.
Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. For example it has been shown that sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show for instance that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.
7. Listen to uplifting music
In itself this ritual is a no-brainer. Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead. Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often however they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general. Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.
It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.