Mornings can be the worst. Alarms wake us, or hungry pets, or excited kids. We start out groggy and before the first waking minutes have passed, we’re already spinning with stress of the day ahead. But, you know what?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
A good morning can make for a good day can make for a good life. But how to go about it? Various success gurus and influential individuals tout their own morning rituals, but one size doesn’t fit all. In this latest installment of Snooze, Primary Goods gives you the tools to craft your own bespoke morning ritual remix: take what you find useful, and discard the rest. Let’s get in this mix.
Humans are prone to believing what we want to believe. So much so, there’s a name for this: confirmation bias. Our minds will typically seek any evidence that proves our beliefs to be right while subconsciously avoiding or dismissing evidence does the opposite.
On the surface, this may seem like a negative. How else could we grow and change if our beliefs were never challenged? But this same psychological pitfall can actually make for a kick-ass day!
Doctoral researchers at Penn State discovered that in our first waking moments, we set the tone for our entire day. If we immediately think our day will be stressful, then confirmation bias will carry that belief—even if nothing stressful happens! And the opposite is just as true: if we believe first thing in the morning that our day will be relaxing—our confirmation bias will guide our mind to find evidence to prove it.
A key part of the morning ritual is setting your intentions for the day: do you want to feel powerful? Relaxed? Joyful? Grateful? Effective? Make the conscious choice and choose your belief wisely, before anything else, so that your mind can supercharge your body with the bias you want for the day.
Based on the intentions you’ve set, select from the following elements to get craft your unique ritual:
1. Simple Pleasures
Actress and comedienne Melissa McCarthy has a fantastic morning ritual:
She gets up before her kids, dogs, and husband, makes coffee, and watches a couple episodes of her favorite throwback TV shows. No crazy morning workout, no zen meditation, no email-checking—nun’ o’ that. Eventually she gets around to reading the news and the kids and dogs wake up, but before ALL of that, she starts with the things that bring her a sense of comfort and pleasure.
If you’re looking to set a tone for your day, joy is a fantastic choice. And it comes down to doing something you just plain like: Read a beloved webcomic, doodle a bit, work on your model airplanes, sing to your ficus—choose something that personally brings you joy or comfort.
Can you imagine the rest of your day giving you that same feeling? Find out by starting out your morning ritual with something that will.
Throughout my school days, anticipation of a tasty breakfast often motivated falling asleep quickly the night before. Not only can breakfast be another source of joy early in the morning, but the food we choose is another subliminal message to our subconscious about how we treat ourselves.
Question: What message does it send to us if we opt for a greasy little hot pocket fresh out the microwave, ready to cramp our stomachs mid-commute? Answer: "You are garbage and I will fill you with more of the same." No judgment (okay, maybe a little), but we could all do a little better with what we choose for fuel for the first leg of our daily journeys.
Opt for something nutritious and tasty. A quality breakfast, according to Oprah, should contain three things: complex carbohydrates (for better focus and improved cognition), protein (to sustain energy and curb appetite), and fiber (for smooth moves).
Ideally, prep your meal the night before, so you can ensure you’re not reaching for those pop-tarts in a pinch. FYI: they are literally one of the worst foods you can eat.
Okay, you all knew it was coming—yes, exercise. Turns out it’s good for ya. Who knew?
But here’s the better news: you don’t have to go for an all-out 1 hour weight training plus half hour jog first thing in the morning, like ex-Navy SEAL Commander Jocko Willink. Just FIFTEEN MINUTES of light exercise has been shown to increase mood and motivation by 41% and increase ability to handle stress by 27%. By light exercise, I mean A WALK or some morning yoga. Just some activity that gets your body moving and blood pumping can make a significant difference in your day.
If you are more inclined to the active lifestyle: you can still keep your morning workout to just ten minutes. High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT (exercising in short bursts at max effort) is far more effective than an hour of low intensity cardio, like jogging. Plus, HIIT has some phenomenal results: heightened metabolism due to increased insulin sensitivity can last up to 48 hours after your workout! Again, this is only for the already pretty fit. Don’t jump into HIIT without prior training—lest you lose your breakfast—literally.
Again, you probably saw this coming: dozens of celebrities, CEOs, and suchlike have attested to the benefits of starting the day with meditation. The effects of, again, just TEN MINUTES of sitting quietly with your thoughts in the morning can improve your focus and well-being throughout the day. And there’s plenty of scientific research to back this up.
I’ll admit that meditation is not for everyone: given the task, some people actually come out worse for sitting with themselves for ten minutes! Friends and relatives alike have related to me their bad experiences trying meditation for the first time: their minds racing with thoughts, erring on the negative, self-judgy side or feeling like they could be doing any of a million more productive things.
I totally get it. If you don’t like it, just don’t do it! That’s OKAY :)
But, if you’re open to trying something new (or trying again), there are benefits to be had. The best way to start is by using a guided meditation app like Headspace or any of the free guided meditation videos on Youtube, from reputable folks like Deepak Chopra, for instance.
MIX IT UP
Julia Cameron, author of the critically acclaimed book The Artist’s Way, has a word to say about discipline:
“Discipline is rooted in self-admiration… We admire ourselves for being so wonderful. The discipline itself, not the creative outflow, becomes the point.”
We can all dig this. I’ve often been tempted to (humbly or not so humbly) brag about my commitment to daily exercise or a morning meditation practice. Talking up the daily ritual we follow to a T every morning is tempting. It’s in our nature to hype up discipline, but discipline is not the point.
Remember, whatever your ritual, it begins with an intention. If following the same set pattern every morning is not jibing with your goals, then change it up! Steve Jobs had a very simple morning routine: he would wake up, make his bed, shower, and then look himself in the mirror and ask: “If today were the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?” If he caught himself answering “no” several days in a row, he knew a change was required.
Perhaps we can add this to our own routines, as a way to check in and see if we’re in love with how we start the day or just the idea of being disciplined. Pick your own special mix, but don’t feel the need to shackle yourself to just one! Do what suits you, from day to day. It’s your morning, so MIX IT UP!
And, if you want to get the most out of your morning—make sure to check out our line of unique snap-on linens. For a little time attaching the top sheet to the duvet, you will save precious minutes and energy ordinarily wasted on digging an errant top sheet out from the foot of your bed. Try adding Primary Goods to your Morning Ritual Remix!
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Anderberg, Jeremy. “Perfect Morning Routine to Have a Good Day.” The Art of Manliness, The Art of Manliness, 20 Feb. 2020, www.artofmanliness.com/articles/make-every-day-good-day-morning-routine/.
“The Benefits of Meditation.” Headspace, Headspace, 2 July 2020, www.headspace.com/science/meditation-benefits.
Bohn, Katie, et al. “Expecting a Stressful Day May Lower Cognitive Abilities throughout the Day.” Penn State News, Penn State University, 3 July 2018, news.psu.edu/story/526774/2018/07/03/research/expecting-stressful-day-may-lower-cognitive-abilities-throughout.
Chopra, Deepak. “10 Min Meditation - Anxiety Meditation - Daily Guided Meditation by Deepak Chopra.” Youtube, The Chopra Well, 6 June 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2nDDlgjfWM.
Heshmat, Shahram. “What Is Confirmation Bias?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 23 Apr. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias.
Marsh, Stuart. “Just One Minute of Intense Exercise Is as Good as 45 Minutes of Endurance Training.” Coach, Honey, 28 Apr. 2016, coach.nine.com.au/latest/one-minute-of-hard-work-is-all-it-takes/9ac322e9-003a-420e-9590-841577980988.
Marsh, Stuart. “What Happens to Your Body after High-Intensity Interval Training?” Coach, Honey, 25 Nov. 2015, coach.nine.com.au/fitness/effects-of-hiit-training/d050051a-537c-407f-955e-29a539f847b2#:~:text=While%20you%20probably%20aren't,into%20muscle%20or%20fat%20cells.
Purtill, Corinne. “Melissa McCarthy's Morning Routine Is a Revelation.” Quartz at Work, Quartz, 23 Oct. 2018, qz.com/work/1432595/melissa-mccarthys-morning-routine/.
“Recovering A Sense of Compassion.” Artist's Way: 25th Anniversary Edition, by Julia Cameron, Penguin Books, 2016, p. 153.
Spritzler, Franziska. “The 15 Unhealthiest Junk Foods in America.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 May 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/unhealthiest-junk-foods.