Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” And while the philosopher may have been on point with his theory, chances are at 6 a.m. we’re concentrating more on cursing our alarm clocks than the hope of what the new day holds. In reality, though, Aurelius is right: There’s power in our thoughts, and making a simple shift may be opening a window to a brighter outlook.
The words we tell ourselves can set us up either to have a happy, successful day or a moody, negative one (and we’d rather have the former). In order to create a day of joy, maybe it’s time we apply Aurelius’s wisdom and start approaching each day as a privilege. To do so, try practicing these four morning thoughts.
Mentally resolve what you want to accomplish.
Want to get that project done before your deadline? Hoping to reach out to a new co-worker? Think about it when you rise in the morning. Research has found that setting specific goals can boost your happiness, so not only are you going over your to-do list, you’re setting yourself up for joy the rest of the day. Not a bad way to start.
Mull over what you’re grateful for.
It’s no secret that gratitude is a huge contributor to happiness — so why not schedule your time to express thankfulness when you first wake up? Not only will it start your day on a happy note, it also has the ability to slay stress (just what we need before we head into the office). “Life is a series of problems that have to be solved — and a lot of times those problems cause stress,” Robert Emmons, Ph.D., gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. “Gratitude can be that stress buster.”
Visualize your loved ones.
If you do happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, try picturing those you care about. A 2012 Cornell University study found that thinking about your loved ones — whether it was your mother or a romantic partner — can help you feel better and decrease negative thoughts. Furthermore, researchers also discovered that thinking of these pleasant relationships may have positive payoffs at least a month later. Happy memories = happy thoughts (and feelings).
Finally, think about nothing.
When was the last time you embraced total silence? If you haven’t connected with nothingness in a while, you may want to make an appointment with the quiet: Sitting in silence can boost your focus, pump up your creativity and be a therapeutic way to start your day. Chances are we aren’t going to have the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts as the hours progress (just try sitting in silence when you have hungry kids to feed or TV shows to watch!). So give it a go in the morning, then conquer the day with the knowledge that you carved out a few quiet moments for yourself.
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