Thursday, January 27, 2011

Launch your day right

I have often said the way you start your day is the way you will spend your day.  When you get out of bed with a "I don't want to" attitude dragging yourself around to get ready you will certainly not feel ready to handle anything that the day brings you.  And when you leap out of bed with a start panicked and rushed you will be on edge all day too.  But if you could launch your day in a positive and energetic way, just what could you accomplish?

As Soon as the Alarm Rings...
Spend your first few seconds in bed and allow your body to wake up.  Stretch, wiggle your toes and welcome the morning.  Then allow your mind to wake up!  Don't get out of bed until you can think about at least 3 things to feel grateful for.  Maybe it is something exciting you have planned for the day.  Maybe it is the blessing of your loved ones, or the security you feel waking up in your warm bed.  Maybe it's even that cup of coffee you're going to have in a few minutes.  Whatever it is big or small, those thoughts will lift your happiness level.  Making a regular habit of starting your day in a state of gratitude will dramitically change the way you spend your day.  It will have a positive effect on you and your ability to be at a higher level of performance throughout the day.
Now ... Get Up!

Taking 5 or 10 minutes to embrace your day can be powerful, but don't stay in bed too long!  The longer you lie there, the less you may want to get up and your thoughts might wander past the gratitiude and energetic thoughts to the more mundane tasks ahead.  So before that starts, rise up!  Get vertical and make a cup of coffee, take a shower, feed the dog...

I started drinking a glass of water each morning ... before my coffee ... a few months ago and it made such a big difference.  It made me feel more alert.  And studies show how we tend to cut off our water supply after dinner and the morning is a time when our bodies are dehydrated.  Dehydration causes  fatigue, which affects your mood.

Move It
Exercise.  Movement in the morning is so important.  Do you get out of bed just to sit on the couch or at your desk for an hour?  Some of us sit all day as it is, so moving around in the morning can really help you feel more limber throughout the day.  And they say the number one way of chasing away a bad mood is exercise.   A workout at the gym is great, but even just a few minutes of movement—a fast walk, for example—raises energy and reduces tension.  Some morning yoga stretches (I love my Wii Fit) can be a great way to start. 

Self Analysis
If you do wake up feeling anxious or a sense of dread and you can't seem to turn that around, why is that?  Try to pinpoint what's causing it.   Did someone say anything the day before?   Do you have a meeting today you wish you didn't?   Was it the dream you were having when the alarm went off?   If you can figure out why you're upset, that's halfway to feeling better.

Be Kind and Thankful
This isn't exactly news, but generosity and gratitude are both big contributors to happiness.  What can you do for someone else today?   Do something nice for a stranger or friend and see if you don't feel better about yourself.   Remember those three things you're grateful for?  Why not write them down each morning and create a gratitude journal?  It would be a great thing to read around 2 or 3pm when energy starts to dip down.   It seems so simple, but counting your blessings just has a way of making you remember the sun is shining.

Laugh at Yourself
The best comedians point out the mundane aspects of life—relationship strife, a boring job, a closet full of too-tight clothes; they exaggerate those circumstances, and give us a perspective we can laugh about.  Look at your own life and try to appreciate the absurdity of what doesn't go exactly according to plan (the diets, the men, the buzz cut).   Stop taking yourself so seriously!  Acknowledging how little control we actually have over what happens is sometimes a most freeing gift to yourself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Bucket List

In 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in the movie "The Bucket List."   It's a story about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.   It was a funny and poignant look at living out your dreams.   But why wait like most people, until you retire or face death to write the list?  Why not live every day from your bucket list?
If you didn't know, a bucket list,  is a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill and life-experiences you desire to experience before you die.  Why is a bucket list so important?  Because I believe it helps us to want more, experience more and live more with a greater purpose.  Without defining the goals we have for our lives we can get too caught up in the everyday mundane tasks of our lives and forget to plan for more fun and excitement.  We might neglect reaching past our own limits.  Without a bucket list we not learn how to think big.  You know you have heard it before, "If you are going to think, might as well think big."
Taking the time to create a bucket list for your life will help you to think bigger and bigger!   Thinking big means going big!   And I don't think a bucket list should be written as part of your "personal race against time".  It's not a morbid task.  It is a positive proactive optimistic plan for YOUR life!  Your bucket list contains all of your personal triumphs yet to be seen.
I also think we should add new goals to our bucket list all the time.  There should never be a time when we stop imagining and planning how we can live out our purpose.  Imagine if every High School Senior was asked to start their Bucket List as part of their graduation requirements?  Wow
All it takes is a pen and a piece of paper to get started and maybe a quiet spot for 30 minutes.  Think about the things you would love to try, the places you would love to see, the experiences you want to have in the course of your lifetime.  Who are the people you want to meet, help and inspire?  Don't worry about how or when right now, just imagine.   Think without limits, without fear.   What will you do with the life that has been given to you?
Will you write a book?  Learn to play the piano?  Climb a mountain?  Speak another language?  Run a marathon?  Travel to India?  Fly a plane?  Take cooking lessons?  Drive a race car?   Come up with as many items as you can.   The items should be things you have not done yet.
Don’t stop until you finish listing at least 101 things!   If you find yourself stuck, chances are you are mentally limiting or constraining yourself.  So release the brakes and remember this is a list of everything you want.
But look past the wants and see the why's.  What will you discover about yourself when you take a look at not only what you want to but why you want to do it?  And wait until you see who you become in the process of achieving the items on your list!