The morning is enormously important. It’s the foundation from which the day is built. How you choose to spend your morning can be used to predict the kind of day you’re going to have.
When I awake in the morning, my mind gradually gathers, and I begin to move as the early morning light is just starting to seep through the windows. My family is still sleeping. It’s a peaceful beginning.
I stretch, have a glass of water, start the tea kettle, and practice a gratitude meditation for ten minutes. Then I enjoy a cup of tea as I read one chapter of a good book. And finally, I write for an hour before the busyness of the day begins.
Once my family awakes, I pause to join them for a short time and we follow some simple morning rituals together too.
This is just a rough sketch of my mornings, and they make me happy.
It wasn’t always this way though. I used to awake in a hurry, rushing and cranky before stumbling into work and errands and meetings. It was awful, but it was my life. I didn’t know any better, so I didn’t think I could change things. Thankfully, I was wrong.
I’ve changed my mornings, so they work for me and not against me, with just a few simple rituals. And I’ve shared these morning rituals with thousands of coaching clients/students over the years, and many of them come back to me a month or two later and say, “Thank you!” Perhaps they will help you as well.
1. Get an early start.
If your mornings are chaotic, the simple solution is to get up a little earlier than the chaos. This, of course, starts the night before by going to bed a bit earlier too.
Adjust gradually, wake up just 10 minutes earlier each week for the next 6-9 weeks, and you’ll barely notice the change from day to day. This extra time will help you avoid stress, speeding tickets, tardiness and other unnecessary headaches.
2. Meditate on the goodness.
Begin each day with love, grace and gratitude. When you arise in the morning think of what an incredible privilege it is to be alive – to be, to see, to hear, to think, to love, to have something to look forward to. Happiness is a big part of these little parts of your life; joy is simply the feeling of appreciating it all.
Realize that it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. Make a habit of noticing the goodness that’s already yours first thing in the morning, and you will see more goodness everywhere you look throughout the day.
3. Stretch it out.
Simple, but so often forgotten… stretching your body in the morning has these key benefits:
- Creates an increased range of movement in the body’s joints
- Enhanced muscular flexibility and coordination
- Increased circulation of the blood to various vital organs
- Increased mental and physical energy levels (resulting from increased movement and circulation)
If you’re uncertain about how to stretch properly, you can find hundreds of great tutorials on YouTube. Choose one that you think will suit you best and practice it for a minute or two every morning. You will sense a change yourself, guaranteed.
4. Drink a tall glass of water before consuming anything else.
Another obvious practice that goes by the wayside…
Your body is more than 60% water, and when you’ve been sleeping all night without drinking any water, it gets dehydrated and desperate for hydration. So quench your thirst with exactly what your body needs. Avoid drinking coffee, tea or other beverages before you have at least one tall glass of water. By doing so your body will start to wake up and you’ll naturally feel more energized and alive. (Read Healthy Habits.)
5. Keep things simple.
One of my personal mistakes several years ago was trying to fit too much into my mornings. When I first started waking up early I wanted to workout, meditate, handle household chores, read, write, cook breakfast, reply to work emails, run errands, etc., and it turns out I couldn’t do all those things. I was waking up early and stressing myself out. I made my early mornings just as packed as the rest of the day.
What has helped me is having a few key things I do early, but not being over-committed to lots of goals and agendas. I’d rather have space and flexibility, which makes the time much more peaceful and useful. So the glass of water, stretching, gratitude meditation, tea, reading and writing are the only agendas I have on most mornings, but I’m flexible with those also.
6. Do a few things that move you.
Again, DO NOT fill your mornings with things you have to do… but, DO have a few things you can’t wait to get out of bed and get started on. For me, that goes back to my short list, which includes reading and writing – two of my greatest passions. For you, perhaps a long meditative walk, yoga, prayer, painting, or simply reading the morning paper.
In other words, don’t just have a long list of things you think you should do but don’t really want to do. Give your early mornings to yourself as a gift.
7. Read, review or listen to something that nurtures your mind.
Some of the happiest and most successful people I know read a bit of scripture each morning, some read inspiring books, articles or quotes, while others listen to radio, podcasts or audio programs that move them to get their day started. The key is having a ritual focused on absorbing small doses of self-improvement content to stretch and nurture your perspective and knowledge base. It starts the day off on a positive note with positive, productive ideas to guide your day’s journey. And that’s crucial, because your thoughts guide your reality.
So indulge in something positive every morning when you awake, and let it inspire you to do something positive before you go back to sleep at night. That’s how memorable, manageable days are made. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Inspiration” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
8. Be present, breathe, and appreciate the space between activities too.
Your early morning moments aren’t just about the things you do; they’re also about the open space between the things. That means the space itself is something to be appreciated as well.
So if you meditate and read, the morning isn’t just valuable because of the meditation and reading… the space around those two activities is also incredible. The time spent walking over to your meditation mat, or finding your book, or turning the pages, or pouring a cup of tea, or sitting and watching the sunrise… these little open spaces are just as important as anything else.
Pace yourself so you’re not hurrying from one thing to the next, but instead noticing and appreciating the spaces in between, too.
9. Move on gracefully to what’s most important.
As human beings we are goal oriented. We like making progress. When we accomplish one of our goals, we smile about it. That’s why the happiest people I know are also some of the most successful people I know.
As your early morning winds down, the key is to funnel your attention directly into the right things, not the urgent things. Because at some point we all wonder, “Why is it so impossible to get everything done?” And the answer is stunningly simple: We’re doing too many of the wrong things.
Several research studies have shown that people never get more done by blindly working more hours on everything that comes up. Instead, they get more done when they follow careful plans that measure and track key priorities and milestones. So if you want to be more successful, less stressed, and a lot happier at the end of each day, don’t ask how to make something more efficient until you’ve first asked, “Do I need to do this at all?”
Simply being able to do something well does not make it the right thing to do. I think this is one of the most common problems with a lot of time-management advice; too often productivity gurus focus on how to do things quickly, but the vast majority of things people do quickly should not be done at all.
A great morning isn’t something that magically happens – it’s created consciously.
You don’t have to implement all these ideas, but I challenge you to try one or two and see how your mornings improve.
I bet you’ll begin to enjoy them as much as I do.
The floor is yours…
How do you like to start your mornings? What helps you start the day off right? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Petr
Wonderful list. Number 7 makes a big difference for me. I try my best to read something inspiring, something for fun, and listen to at least part of a podcast each morning.
Emre Can says
Yes, I agree with you.
Nice list! I agree with you very much. I start my day with a time of prayer and study of the Bible every day as well as a few other things. I find that days when I have to rush out without having a enough time to do these seem to be so much shorter and less fruitful.
Thanks for your article! Every day I try to read inspiring books and stretch my body for my physical and mental energy. I also drink one glass warm water every morning for detoxification.
Thank you Marc, your stories and tips have always been an inspiration to me.
Marc, in Angel’s previous post on positive-thinking mantras, I gave your book a plug. I think I mentioned that I use many quotes from your book as positive mantras to center my mind.
Well, here’s one I’ve used almost every morning for the past year. I start my day by reading this highlighted quote from your book and it really helps energize my mind to get the right things done first:
“Every morning you have the same two choices:
1. Continue to sleep with your dreams.
2. Wake up and chase them.”
Thank you for keeping me on track. 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
Thanks so much for the continued support of our work. We appreciate you.
Instead of reading I am knitting for half an hour. It’s like a meditation and let me start my day relaxed and calm. To get this 30 minutes, it’s no problem for me to awake earlier. 🙂
Awesome list! Although number 1 isn’t exactly applicable to everyone – it has been shown that some people reap the same benefits from working late into the night as from early mornings. The key ingredient is just to be active while everyone else is sleeping, regardless if it’s in the morning or the evening. But surely the rest of these principles are applicable in all cases.
My day start with prayer and devotions. A heartfelt thank you to God for giving me another day, followed by exercise. My prescription for a great day!
Anto Francis says
Thank you for your valuable tips on how to get started with a day more effectively and meaningfully. I have been starting my days without any motives or inspiration. I have resolved to follow some of your tips to begin my day and I am sure that they will help me. Thank you once again.
I love reading your advice and tips in my email inbox in the morning.?
Marc Chernoff says
I love that you read our email newsletters, and that you appreciate them. Thanks for the kindness.
I never really thought of my mornings being a ritual but I can see now they are, even if it is “must do” based instead of “love to.”. I start every morning withbthe alarm and pressing snooze (more than once), then go to the gym because i Love how it makes me feel and the benefits to my body and spirit. Then hurry home to make breakfast for my daughter before school and getting ready for work.
I am going to change it to getting out of bed and doing yoga stretches while giving thanks to God and the Angels for the blessing of my life and all the love that surrounds me and then go to the gym.
Thank you for making me see things in a different light! xo
I Love it! I’ve had a consistent morning ritual for about 3 years, and incorporated The Miracle Morning about 1 year ago (highly recommended book).
But, #5-6 really spoke to me here. I get so jazzed about starting my day with SO much ‘goodness’ that I probably stress myself out at times. Keeping it simple is a great piece of advice I’ll take from this list. Thanks as always, Marc!
Marc Chernoff says
Agreed, The Miracle Morning is a fantastic read. Thanks for sharing.
Elsie Goycoolea says
I especially love number 5! Sometimes because we think we are super productive in the morning we pack our schedules and by mid day we are already dead. A optimum balance works best for me 🙂
Please do a post on things to do to fall asleep and stay asleep! Mornings, days and evenings I have under control. It’s the sleep thing that can be a challenge. As a friend of mine says it’s like I don’t want to say goodbye to the day!
I love this reason. I really struggle to get to sleep but this somehow makes me feel a little less concerned , in fact it has put a big smile on my face. Thank you 🙂
I’ve been reading your blogs for a long time now, and I just wanna commend you for all your great work! Your site is like a bible, its full of inspiration and practical helps to live a better life. I like the way you simplify things. God Bless Marc and Angel! looking for more blogs. 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
Thanks for the kindness. Angel and I are thrilled that you’ve been with us for so long. We appreciate you.
Thank you so much for your inspiring thoughts. I learn a great things from your posts.
I have read this post and learnt more to implement in my life for self-betterment.
Keep it up and thank you so much for your valuable things
Thanks & Regards,
Ale B says
Thanks guys! A must do list in my mind!!!
Julio Letelier Monge says
Great article Marc & Angel!
Number four it´s something that I really like it. And do the important things besides the urgent things it´s also very important too as well.
Thank´s again for your blogs and comments, have a great day!
Julio Letelier M. (Santiago, Chile)
Janice Harris says
Hi there – I am already doing a lot of these things. First thing in the morning I meditate. But also, reading this blog has come to be a vial part of how I start my work day. Thank you so much for all you do.
This is a great reminder. I have used a similar ritual for years. The new thing I have added recently is spending time with my horse. For me being around “horse energy” makes everything in my world.
How so! Very good article and nicely written – a few things I’d thought, and some of them I’d been doing – great to see them all together and voiced so eloquently. Thanks for sharing it and educating us all; let’s get the most possible (within reason!) from our mornings … 🙂
Sandra Pawula says
I felt so inspired when I read about your quiet and relaxing morning time! I meditate in the mornings so I’ve got one item checked off the list, but I could definitely include a few more of these. And, I think the key in each case is to engage mindfully.
I couldn’t agree more as a morning person wannabe. Just this week I was able to work in the garden first thing. It was blissful – the birds, morning light, and smell was delightful. The rest of the day followed suit. I really want more of this peace in my life. There are enough hours in the day, I’m just usually sleeping. Thanks for posting.
Sergio Rodrigues says
In addition to drink a glass of water and reading for at least 15 minutes, I usually go for a walk and listen to a inspirational podcast.
I really need to get used to meditate and writing a list of things I am grateful for. Great post, as usual!
Irene Wallbank says
For years I have had my shower at night, rather than in the morning. This makes me feel less stressed in the morning because I know that if I oversleep all I have to do is put my clothes on.
After my father retired, he used to set the alarm even if he did not have to get up; this was so he could enjoy the pleasure of falling back to sleep again.
Thanks for the tips. Although I start my day off with some inspirational programs and prayer, I notice that I need to adjust something as my mood has not improved much since I started doing this again. I may be doing too much and need to cut back or do them on alternating days.
I love reading your tips. As a morning person this one was great.
Carlo Cruz says
Thank you Marc!
Number 5 (Keep Things Simple) really hit me. I guess one of the reasons why I’m having a hard time owning my morning is because I’m already overwhelmed by the tasks I packed at the start of the day: one-hour of prayer time, exercise, reading a book, preparing breakfast, catching up on blogs that inspire me, goal-setting, and so much more. Waking up an hour earlier is no longer enough.
Thanks again! Will keep it simple from now on and avoid the rush.
Thanks Marc, I always start my mornings by reading some inspirational material which i find on your blog, and listening to some good music.
thank you for the tips. i start my day with prayer and enjoying my morning tea. and sometimes read a book while having breakfast.
G Angela says
Thanks for this beautiful post, I am learning so much by reading your posts, this month has been a busy month, too many weddings in the family, come late home, getting up late, no school for my daughter. I need to get back to my original schedule of rising early morning, go for a walk, do some yoga stretches ,meditate and only then begin the other works… thanks for sharing !!
I have a problem because I work shifts. Sometimes I am up at 5.30am, some days I sleep in and go to work at 12.30 and sometimes I sleep all day because I am on night duty. It is hard to get into good habits when one works shifts. The body clock is all over the place and I am 55yrs old and will continue this for some years to come….I really wish I could be more productive in the mornings but most of the time, I just feel tired out.
Mary Brady says
Hang in there. I feel your sadness and frustration. Was in a similar work situation. Wish I could give you suggestions to manage. I’m an introvert and back then it took most of my daily energy to eat, commute, work, perform daily activities of living, interact with family and sleep. It was financially tight a few years for me and my spouse, but the untimely death of a younger colleague was the tipping point re: my decision to retire early. Now I have time to relax (without the Sword of Work hanging over my head) and can indulge in small pleasures such as learning languages. I’d suggest keep reading Marc and Angel. Wish I knew of their existence when I was suffering, like you may be suffering now. My best. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Marc Chernoff says
Gillian, I agree with Mary’s remarks. Extremely insightful. And my heart, too, goes out to you.
Also, keep in mind that your morning rituals can shift to meet your daily schedule. Try to focus on the principles, not the exact time-frame in which they happen.
Hi there! Thanks for the wonderful article. Your site is great inspiration to me and lots of changes I can see them, those changes inside as well as outside too. Thanks guys.
Holden Seguso says
Great article! I particularly resonated with tips #7 and #9. As i’m just starting out building my own foundation I find that dedicating time each day to reflecting on spiritual/inspirational content helps me remain centered, and keeps me focused on “why” I do things. Also, tip #9 which suggests that one learn to allocate his energies to the most beneficial priorities is so crucial. I believe, however, it is a skill that can only be developed through action and experience. Great article! Truly enjoy the vibes and advice you are sending out. Thanks!!
Great article, I especially subscribe to 1, 4, 7 and 9. Not to state that the others are not important but these are 4 principles that I’ve implemented into my daily routines with great results thus far.
I’ve been a member of the 5 a.m. club for a year and a half now and it has changed my life. Honestly, it was a challenge when I first began but after I saw the changes and the results it was a no-brainer to do it daily. It did require I go to sleep earlier but its worth it. I’ve stepped it back to 4:30 a.m for workouts and writing and it has been great.
In addition, I’ve started my day with daily affirmations, prayer and reading positive materials for years now and cut out listening to the radio as I used to before. I don’t miss the radio and the mindset I’ve created is priceless by starting my day with spirituality and supreme positivity. Just 2 of the important principles I’ve been getting value from in my mornings.
A great compilation of morning tips for betterment. I enjoy waking up to classical music, because even on the radio it’s more music and less abrasive talk, as well as relaxing in its own rite. I also use my happy light on dull days and winter months to help ease into the day and get that much needed dose of light to energize me through the day.
I start my day off by reading a post from Marc and Angel, meditating, and working out.
When I wake up and am still lying in my bed, I start by setting an intention. And then saying Abracadabra because it’s fun and it is also a Hebrew phrase when translated to English means I create what I speak. 🙂
I spend a few minutes on the computer while my brain ‘wakes up’. I changed my homepage to you guys so that the first thing I see when I wake up is something inspirational. I get up at 6am and the family gets up at 6:45 so I have 20 minutes to wake my mind up, and then spend 20 minutes focused solely on myself (shower etc) before I share my little world with my family. Still working on getting the chaos down more but eventually I would like them to be able to wake up the same way, slowly, stretching, waking their little brains before they have to rush to dress…
This is such a timely post as I’m working on my morning routine too. I’ve been making time to really enjoy breakfast instead of rushing out of the door on an empty stomach. And I also started listening to inspiring podcasts while I’m getting ready, and am amazed by how much I love it. Thanks for the tips, Marc! Gonna play with adding 3 + 4, and a bit more of 1.
Thanks for sharing this! I am a morning person but I feel like this is something nice to share and keep in mind. I always tell people (for me personally), if it doesn’t get done before 10 am (when I work) it normally doesn’t get done after.
Marc Chernoff says
Everyone, as always, THANK YOU for the incredibly inspiring and insightful comments.
I continue to appreciate the fact that our collective thoughts fuel each other’s inspiration. We write a new post, and then you leave comments that inspire us to write another new post. 🙂
Hi Marc great article, I have done a similar thing, I found your article handy to take stock on my routine. Keeping it simple and calm hit me as a key takeaway, don’t try to do to much.
I then eat for energy, which has worked great for me I feel so much better and have lost over a stone.
Monica Radtke says
For question #1 How do you like to start your a.m.? Just getting out of bed every morning makes my day. As soon as my feet hit the floor it encourages my potential for opportunity that today is a better day compared to yesterday & that I am better than I was yesterday.
Question #2 What helps you start the day off right? The chance that I can be useful to myself & not be discouraged by my condition. I can help myself in order to be there for others.
Ashok Bishnoi says
You are on the right way. Gandhi once said ” we can’t do anything right until we have the internal light”.
Thank you Marc and angel I have been reading your blogs regularly for quite long now… It’s very inspirational. It has helped me many times to be positive and to be strong.
I like to start my morning by giving my 13 year old cat, Stubs, a drink of water and then taking him for a walk to smell the flowers. He loves plants and flowers and seeing him take such delight in things he may have never been exposed to if circumstances were different gives me a sense of peace, and inspiration. I love him for the things he makes me appreciate.
I love reading the Bible and saying a prayer to thank God for the new day and ask God to guide me all throughout the day, this gives me the energy and courage to start off my day well. But I love the tips you have provided above, I wanna incorporate some of them to my mornings.
I’m really slow and I’ve learned that I need a lot of time in order to get out the door at a specific time. If I try to do it all in less time I forget things or am cranky. Cooking my lunch (to take with me) is one of my favorite ways to wake up. It’s one of the few times I don’t turn on the radio or music, and I cook in my jammies. I enjoy the smells, the quiet, and the assembling of food.
Excellent thoughts, Marc and Angel. Thank you.