Sometimes we get so vexed by the micro-stressors of daily lives that we can really start swatting at flies with sledgehammers and making mountains out of molehills.
When I look very candidly at my own experience, I notice that my stress or irritation is often a result of the “snowball” effect.
Maybe I spilled coffee on my white jeans in the morning (at which point I was still relatively calm), then forgot to bring my driver’s license to the passport renewal service (at which I started getting a bit more irritable, but by no means belligerent), and finally, received a $100 parking ticket in the five minutes I stepped away from car, at which point I sent my whole town into a heat wave with just the steam emanating from my ears.
The truth of the matter, in this theoretical scenario, is that these spirals of negativity were likely a result of my negative thinking. Had I taken a moment to calm down after my coffee spill, perhaps I would have been clear-headed enough to remember my driver’s license.
We mustn’t be so quick to surrender to the seemingly “doomsday” happenings of our daily lives. Sometimes, we just have to take a moment to realign ourselves from the inside out to get back on track. With that, here are three very simple, quick things you can do in the morning (and throughout the day) that will help you stay on track.
Make a gratitude list
In positive psychology research, gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness. Recognizing all that you’ve been blessed with on a daily basis can help you put your life into perspective and see certain problems in a fresh, more optimistic light.
Begin every morning with a written list of three things you are grateful for, and truly feel that thankfulness. Do not write things down out of a feeling of obligation — speak from the heart. Whether you are particularly appreciative of your puppy’s slobbery kisses or your clay face mask from Sephora, make sure to recognize what adds true value to your life.
You might begin to notice your mind inadvertently drifting towards this list throughout the day, and that will help keep you grounded as well.
Meditation is incredibly rewarding and practical for a number of reasons, but to me it boils down to training my mind to stay focused on a task or idea for longer periods of time and to be fully grounded in the present moment (as opposed to being concerned about the future or past).
If you are new to meditation, simply get into a comfortable sitting position and focus on your breath. Every time a thought pops into your head — and trust me, it will — do not pursue it further. Simply non-judgmentally allow it to drift away and refocus your attention on the “in and out” lull of your breath.
If you become frustrated, don’t worry. Just like with any new skill, this practice takes some time to become familiar with. Keep at it, and just focus on being judgment-free and coming back to the breath.
In time, you will begin to notice that you are not only more focused on your daily tasks, but also that you are more mindful of what is going on around you. When there are fewer distracting, anxious thoughts buzzing around in your head, you start to pick up more frequently on the beautiful subtleties of life.
Before taking on your day, it can be very grounding to realign with your purpose. Remind yourself every morning of what your ultimate life goals are, and create one or more intentions for that particular 12-hour period that fit in with your principles.
For instance, two of my core values are to see things from others’ perspectives (in other words, to be empathetic) and to always grow (emotionally, spiritually, career-wise, etc). For that reason, one specific intention I set this morning was to beat the average number of articles I write every day by one.
We’re gettin’ there 😀
Remember that each new day is a clean slate. Always be grateful, humble, and loving, and everything will fall into place.