First, and I expect everyone to give me shit about this, I make my bed every day. Okay. Most days. I know what you’re already thinking. “Pfft. I’m not doing that, I’m grown, I don’t have to make my bed ever again if I don’t want to and you can’t make me”. You’re absolutely right, I can’t make you. All I can say is that you should consider making your bed every morning if you want to practice a simple change in your life. This is one thing in your life that you get to control. Regardless of what else happens, at least you made your bed. Aliens invaded? At least your bed was made. Zombie apocalypse? Hopefully, you’re as ready as your bed. If you can’t push yourself to do something as simple as making your bed, how are you going to complete the rest of the challenges that life has in store? Now, don’t mistake me when I say “make your bed,” I’m not talk about anything fancy. Hell, I haven’t put military corners on bedsheets in the years since leaving the military, but I do tidy up the blankets and pull the comforter up over the pillows. There’s a few reasons why this is my first daily task. The most important of these reasons is the building of momentum. “Daily task number one completed. As soon as I got up, even. Without coffee. I’m a badass. What’s next?” Also, it’s a chore of convenience. You’re already standing there, just turn around and do it so you’re not tempted to crawl back into bed. If your significant other is still in bed, maybe they have some shit that they should be doing instead of laying around all day. I’m kidding, but maybe they have a project they’d like to work on instead of sleeping half the day away. A bonus to making your bed is when we return to them, it acts as a signal to the subconscious that the day has been completed. A sort of closing out and switching of gears to prepare for sleeping. Just try it and see how it goes. Tell your significant other it’s my fault until they realize how much shit they’re getting done instead of snoozing on and on.
Second task of the morning is that I meditate. Now, I understand that there are different schools of thought regarding meditation and many people even scoff at the idea of clearing your mind at the beginning of your day. Claiming that it’s pointless or that it doesn’t work. Blah, Blah. Don’t be one of those people. Proving to you that meditation is beneficial is a topic for a whole separate book. Besides, there are people far more qualified to write such things and, fortunately for us, they have (i.e., Tara Brach, Sam Harris). So, just stop your mental chatter for a few seconds and work with me here. Focus. As I do with everything, I can only write what I have experienced or what has and hasn’t worked for me. It might not hurt to point out that a large amount of what some of us would define as “successful people”, people who have escaped their less-than-desirable job, made more than their fare share of skrilla or helped thousands of people through charitable works, meditate daily. Sometimes it’s even multiple times a day. I can’t prescribe a specific type or time for meditation, it’s honestly something to be experimented with to find what is appropriate for each individual. For me, I’ve found that 20 minutes gives me the maximum benefit for the least amount of time. Of course, 20 minutes is a long time for some people so I would recommend starting with 10. Some of you might be thinking that finding 10 minutes to meditate in your morning sounds impossible. There is a Zen statement that says something about “If you can’t meditate for 10 minutes, then you need an hour.” Different avenues exist to help you like the Headspace app or guided meditations on Youtube (Tara Brach, Sam Harris, Alan Watts) could even help you get started in figuring out what will work for you.
“If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life.” – Tony Robbins, talking to himself when considering adding meditation to his daily regiment
Third, I exercise in the morning. Now, if you’re already following a workout routine then this may not appeal to you but if you’re not already with a program then I recommend using the Seven Minute Workout. A quick workout like this and a big glass of water will wake up the body and keep us from relying on sugar and coffee to snap you awake in the mornings. By all means, if anyone wants to work-out more later on in the day or skip this all together to keep with their own program, then that’s their decision to make. It’s just important to find what is working and stick to it.
Number four of the morning routine is a cold shower. Cold as I can stand it to can be. If that work-out didn’t wake us up. A cold shower will certainly do the trick. This trick has been introduced to me several different ways from some incredible people. Showers like this are something I adopted to help burn extra calories as Tim Ferriss recommends. Cam Adair brings this important step up in his “Game Quitters” program. Want to find an easy way to bring a comfort challenge into your life? Cold shower challenge. If you can’t handle a temporary, cold shower then how do you plan to overcome the other discomforts that life will certainly bring? Have dreams of world travel? Depending on where we’re trying to go, it might be best to get used to cold showers now. Considering that, in some places, you may not be able to get hot water.
Last, but not least, and maybe the most important of all is breakfast. There are far too many people out there that skip on breakfast. They grab a large coffee at the local hut, stuff it with sugar and then move on with their day. Let me state that I’m not condemning coffee. I love coffee. And sugar. Mmm. I just try to remind myself that moderation is key. Ask yourself. “What are we doing about breakfast?” Breakfast is the foundation of the day. Do not underestimate the power that a good breakfast can bestow upon us. I’m not saying grab a bowl of sugary cereal or a box of donuts. Make a real breakfast for yourself. You deserve it. Even if you must get up earlier to make it happen. Consider this an investment into yourself, into your health and your life. Being hungry is going to make your drive to work way more stressful and opening that first email will become far more depressing. A plate of eggs can make or break your morning. It’s funny that everything can ride on something so small, so seemingly insignificant as an egg or a mug of oatmeal. If you’re the fasting type or you have a reason for skipping breakfast with that choice being deliberate and intentional, then keep it up. Just don’t be skipping on breakfast due to a lack of time or laziness. Question why. Try something new. Make a choice based on that information to keep or remove breakfast from your morning.
Speaking about mugs of oatmeal, I don’t eat oatmeal anymore. Regrettably, grains and I don’t get along very well. I don’t have Celiac disease, but I think that gluten can still have some side effects based off results I’ve seen for myself. This might be a good time to give you a little more insight about me. When I was in my early twenties, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s an auto-immune disease that affects my thyroid hormones and ultimately various other aspects of my life. This post isn’t about my disease, but I felt it pertinent to mention that I’ve only recently begun to read and study a lot about my condition short of becoming a doctor and while continuing to see an actual doctor. Feel free to look it up if you’re as curious a person as I am and get yourself checked, you’d be surprised. The reason that I bring this up is because if you also have a medical condition, then it is important to understand as much about it as you can. This is an important step because it’s a part of your life. Whether you wish it wasn’t is completely irrelevant. Hashimoto’s is a part of my life that I have accepted and am working to adapt my routine to accommodate. It’s difficult because I can change nothing about my routine and gain 10 pounds. This will then lead me to think “oh shit, that’s not good, maybe we should change something.” I can, then, put off that change because I procrastinate everything and lose that 10 pounds no problem. This shit is weird. Calories in, calories out doesn’t seem to matter too much. Trust me. I tried 5 mile runs and 1200 calorie months and no change. Ate a box of donuts after not having them for a year, lost 4 lbs. We’re in un-fucking-charted territory here. My breakfast for almost a full year consisted of oatmeal and fruit. A lot of my favorite foods were grain and gluten containing products. I didn’t understand enough about my disease. Lack of information led me to poor choices which would make me feel horrible and not understand why or how. Now, my breakfast is two hard-boiled eggs with garlic, black beans with some salsa and sauteed spinach or peas. Since making this change, I feel better than I have in a long time. Once again, for those in the back, if you have a medical condition, read as much as you can so you can make better choices and consult a medical professional, multiple if necessary. Don’t be afraid of your illness and don’t let people tell you that because it’s invisible that it isn’t chronic, that’s not how it works. Stare your condition in the face and be informed enough to challenge it. For all the healthy people out there, do not mistake composure for ease.