Updated: Sep 9, 2019
What do you do first when you wake up? Reach for your phone?
What do you want to do when you first wake up? Stretch? Spend quiet moments in nature? Work out?
Here is another question: how much self-control do you have when you wake up?
Enough questions, I hear you ask. Tell us where you’re going with this.
Like many of you, I want my mornings to start off on a good note. For me, it looks like this:
fill my mind with gratitude,
enjoy the outdoors, even if for a brief moment,
walk my dog
The problem is, I usually wake up with a case of FOMO: I must find out if anything interesting has happened overnight and so I reach for my phone, ostensibly to check for messages and NYT headlines but before I know it, I will have also checked Facebook and Instagram and my mind has gone straight to solving problems and dealing with difficult things. On top of that, the typical headline news reminds me of our flawed world, and my mood is set.
And it’s usually not a positive one.
I know what I have to do to ground myself. So why don’t I do them regularly?
Because I don’t wake up with the strongest will power and I give in to the most immediately gratifying habit.
Recently, I tried a new approach.
I imagine a Joy O’Meter filling up every time I do something good. Get out of bed when I wake up instead of going back to sleep: the needle moves. Get dressed and write in my gratitude journal: the needle moves higher. Grab my tea and sit in the backyard: higher still. Slather on sunscreen, lace on my sneakers, take the dog out: higher, higher, higher.
The imagery energizes me. Previously, every time I’d do these “right” things, the imagery was a slow depletion of my will-power reserve so that by the time I came home, I felt spent instead of invigorated.
By imagining the needle rising higher each time I make a good choice, I give myself the gifts of happiness and better attitudes, and I get the additional boost from imagining storing up my fuel for the day.
My joy fuel.
Try it. And then let me know how it works.