Do you ever feel like each day is a struggle, filled with mundane tasks and/or unexpected challenges? Have you felt stuck in a negative mindset? For today’s post, I wanted to share with you the daily practice that I’ve created and implemented in my life this past year, that has helped me to change my way of thinking about each day individually and about my life as a whole.
Starting with a practice in gratitude and ending with a feeling of empowerment, this helps me set myself up for success for the day, brightens my view of the world, and makes me feel more prepared to handle challenges that may arise throughout the day.
Stay tuned for a free template you can download to practice this, but for now, I’ll tell you step by step how I go through the process every morning. Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to take very long!
It’s essentially taking stock of your environment, your mood, what you need for the day, and how to make that happen. If you’re motivated and get into the habit of going through these steps, you can begin to change your mindset and your life.
1. Take stock of your mood in the morning. When I do this as a written practice, I rate my morning mood from 1 to 5. 1 = today is already the worst, and 5 = I’m so freaking happy I’m going to sashay through the house. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m rarely a number 5 in the morning. For me, I’m usually pretty neutral when I wake up, but occasionally I get out of bed in a grumpier mood and need a little extra pick-me-up.
2. Next, assess how you can improve your mood. If you haven’t made a Joy list like I have, I highly suggest it! It’s basically just a list of the things and activities in your life that uplift you/make you happy. (A lot of people go through life knowing what they like and don’t like, but they never stop and think about/focus on what brings them joy and improves their mood!). So if I’m grumpy or not in a good place emotionally, I turn to the things I know will make me feel better, and choose something. For me personally this could be listening to my favorite upbeat music, hugging my boyfriend, having an extra cup of coffee with caramel creamer (an indulgence, but delicious), listening to a funny podcast or watching funny videos while getting ready for work, or making myself a delicious breakfast. Do what you can to lighten your mood and set yourself up for success for that day.
3. Start with gratitude for the big things. Make a list of things you are grateful for in your life and/or current situation. Think big picture. Some major examples could be being in good health, having a roof over your head, having clean water to drink, having a well-paying job, having any job, having people who love you, a big vacation to look forward to, a car that runs, or whatever else “major” you can think of.
4. Continue with gratitude for the little things. Did you sleep well last night? Did you have enough milk left in the fridge for your coffee this morning? Did your alarm go off at the correct time? Was there hot water for your shower? Is it a sunny day outside today? Are you excited for dinner plans after work today?
5. Practice mindfulness. So often we are too busy to look at the world around us, and take so many things for granted. Take a moment and look around you. Observe three things in your surroundings that are beautiful. (I know, beautiful is subjective, but bear with me). They could be obvious things, or the smallest detail – it’s up to you. Is there a plant in your windowsill? Is your coffee steaming in a cute mug? Is there a pattern on the tablecloth, wallpaper, carpet, or curtains that you find appealing? What about the sounds you hear – is it silent? Are there birds anywhere? A dog? Music? If you walk outside, are there any clouds in the sky? If so, are there any cool shapes? Again, it doesn’t matter what exactly it is that you observe and write down. The point is to practice being mindful and simply take a closer look at the world you live in and are a part of, even if it’s starting in your own kitchen.
6. Think of challenges that could arise today. In other words, are there things you can think of happening today that might suck? If you’re going to work, might there be traffic? Are you worried you won’t have time for lunch and be hungry all day? Is your boss a jerk? Are you stressed about a presentation?
7. Brainstorm how you could handle those challenges. Traffic? – listen to your favorite music to distract you. No time for lunch? – pack a couple of granola bars just in case. Horrible boss? – remind yourself to be patient, or that this job doesn’t have to be forever, or that you are still being paid for your time, or that karma is real and what goes around comes around (whatever works for you!). Basically you are preparing yourself for the day ahead and getting into the mindset that whatever arises, you are strong enough to handle it. Even if something arises that you didn’t think of that morning, if you practice this enough, you’ll already be in the habit of finding solutions and chances are you will be better equipped to handle the new task just fine.
So, that’s basically all there is to it. Assess your mood, improve your mood, practice gratitude (big and small), be mindful of what’s around you, think of challenges that might arise that day, and prepare yourself for those challenges. I like to say that you’re starting with gratitude and ending with empowerment. Simple as that.
However, it by no means has to be done in this or any specific order – this is just how I feel it flows the best. I do this after I wake up and while I’m having my coffee, typically by writing it in a journal or notebook, but you are free to use this process however you would like. For example if you’re driving and already on the way to work, you can even say it aloud to yourself. “I’m grateful that it’s not raining. I am grateful that that other car let me merge easily. I observe a clear blue sky.” And continue from there.
I’ve been learning about different gratitude and mindfulness practices for a while now, and recently put different things I’ve learned together into this (hopefully easy and cohesive) process.
I incorporated the method of preparing myself for the challenges of the day because I feel it makes me feel more empowered, and ready to take on the world as my strongest self. The beauty of it is that it could take only a few minutes, or much longer if you want to really go into detail. And, if you want to take the last part a step farther, you can even sit and visualize your day and how you will conquer every single task that pops up.
This simple practice has made me much more open and aware, and has transformed my way of thinking into one in which I truly believe in myself and my own capabilities. I hope you enjoy and find value in it, and hopefully these steps can bring good things into your life too!