On my latest flight out of Seatac airport, the TSA agent asked me if it was raining hard outside or not much.
“Just a light drizzle. Why do you ask?”
He responded, “Because if it’s raining hard when I get off I know I’m going to have a lousy day. If it’s not raining, I’ll have a good day.” I was taken aback – surprised that he was planning his mood according to what he would find when he stepped outside the terminal. Though I am not a trained psychologist, this attitude seemed to me to be outside the realm of bipolar disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is serious mood change when the seasons change. What I’ve observed in myself and others is that we become complaisant and allow what is happening around us to determine our mood. The weather, traffic, people, news, all can be a downer if we let them.
But I’ve learned that we don’t have to be swayed by exterior influences; we can determine our own mood or attitude and how we approach each situation. When we change our attitude, we automatically change our perspective, how we interpret things, the decisions we make, and the actions we take. We tend to think attitude comes from the situation, but in truth it is flexible, determined by our own way of thinking. We also like to fall back on the “It’s just the way I am” line, or “that’s always been my nature.” Yet, these are only because we keep adopting the same attitude.
There are many tools we can employ to shift who we are being and change our attitude. I have been focusing on one particular tactic over the past year and have found it to be remarkably effective. It’s my positive morning routine to “set my day.” I’ve been adding to it little by little, and it helps me feel grounded, inspired and grateful – which all leads to a positive attitude for the day.
Think about it: if you’re rushing through the morning, scrambling as the alarm goes off, wolfing down breakfast on the run or skipping it altogether, listening to scare-tactic news on the drive to work, and not starting your day with mindfulness, of course you’re going to be more susceptible to whatever the wind blows your way.
Instead, set your alarm early enough to give you time to set the foundation for a good day. That may mean going to bed earlier so you get ample sleep, and that’s okay too. If we get into a routine, we can make our positive outlook and productivity a habit and not an effort of our limited willpower. It’s okay to shorten your routine on days when you have conflicts or early engagements; over time, you’ll find your day just doesn’t quite go as well if you skip your routine entirely.
Make sure your morning includes nourishing activities for your whole self – body, mind/emotions, and spirit. Obviously it will be different for everyone but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Breathing exercises
- Physical exercise
- Inspirational reading
- Gratitude listing
- Healthy breakfast
- Family time
- Day planning
- Walking in nature
- Tending to a garden
Here is how most of my mornings unfold:
- Listen to the birds upon waking, depending on daylight
- Look at the sun, the sky, appreciate the natural beauty, depending on available daylight
- Ankle rotations in bed before my feet hit the floor
- Drink water
- Seated meditation
- Qi Gong practice
- Thoughts of gratitude, whatever comes to mind
- Watch the deer and birds outside my sun room or kitchen windows
- Sing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” to my plants (yah, I know it’s corny, but it always lifts my spirits, and I’ve convinced myself that they like it too. Here’s a clip from the old Oklahoma movie, for those who might not remember this tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LdIL5WCso8)
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Make the bed (so things feel tidy, accomplished)
- Shower and dress for the day, ready to go from a grounded position with a positive outlook
The length of my routine depends on whether I have class or a ferry to catch in the morning, but I try to get this private time in every day. This routine has made a huge difference for me; even when dealing with difficult periods of my life, I always feel better – brighter somehow – when I’ve done my routine.
What is YOUR morning routine? If yours is a frantic rush to get out the door, try adding just one physical, emotional or spiritual nourishing action. Commit to doing it for at least six weeks, then add another. You’ll see how you feel differently – calmer, more open – as you go about the day.
So what will you add? What are you willing to commit to for setting your day and your own positive attitude? Post your thoughts in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page, and I know we will inspire others to join us.