You can be happier tomorrow if you do one thing: Wake up fifteen minutes earlier.
Are you tempted to click away? Well, hear me out, especially if you’re one of those people who hits the snooze button. Especially if you’re one of those people who looks at the alarm clock and mutters, “Shit!“
(Tip: If you ever want to be happy, the first word out of your mouth in the morning should not be “shit.”)
So, tonight, go to sleep a little earlier. Tape Colbert, for Pete’s sake. Go to bed.
Set your alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than usual. Drag yourself out of bed. Make your coffee. Then go into an empty room and enjoy the silence. Seriously, just sit there. If there’s a window in the room, all the better. Watch the light change beyond it. Watch the beginning of a new day.
As long as it’s quiet, it’s good.
I didn’t used to do this, and I was not so happy
Years ago, when I worked in publishing and caught the railroad into Manhattan, I got up at the last possible minute and appeared on the platform with damp hair, dying for a cup of coffee. My routine was: Shower, dress, rush to the station, sprint across town, hit the deli for coffee and bagel, wait for elevator.
I’d barely have unwrapped my bagel when some individual appeared in my office doorway to demand something. Or complain about her commute. Or complain about his wife. (Or, in one case, tell me about the sex between him and his wife, which put me off the bagel altogether.)
After I had children, the routine changed a bit. I slept in later (my children, thank God, were late sleepers), and I’d wake up when they did. Then I’d get out of bed, feed them, change them, and play with them. I’d shower and make myself presentable, but their needs always took precedence over my own.
In both cases, while working outside and inside my home, I felt my life didn’t really belong to me. I felt under things, instead of on top of them. All I thought about was my to-do list and how little time I had to check everything off. Rude people bothered me more than was reasonable.
In publishing, I never missed a deadline. I won the position, according to the secretary there, over “a parade of applicants” because I was good and indicated I wanted to get even better. I loved my work and took it seriously.
However, I did have a flaw. My boss had a term for it. He said I was reactive.
Being reactive didn’t help me to be happier
I raced through my days by the seat of my pants. I did not give time to myself. This was a mistake. Whether you’re an executive or a stay-at-home parent, you must give time to yourself. It will change everything.
When you’re jumping out of bed at the last minute muttering, “Shit,” you can pretty much guarantee your day is not going to be great. You’re behind schedule. You’re stressed. You already have a thousand things on your mind. You get into the shower, and your scrubbing like a demon thinking about those thousand things.
Your day is not your own. You are owned by the traffic, by the unsmiling clerk in the coffee shop, by some offhand remark your boss makes, or some stupid inquiry from a woman in the playground regarding the slow growth of your toddler’s teeth. You are reactive. You are out of control.
And you are not alone.
The Grab and Go culture is a disease
Marketers are onto you. They have adapted products and advertising to exploit you and your harried lifestyle. They call it Grab and Go.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to live a Grab and Go Life. I wholeheartedly believe that I was not put on this planet to be short of breath and short of time.
If you, however, never want to be happier, be sure to grab and go. Be sure to drink your soup out of a microwavable sippy can because you bought the lie there’s no time to sit at a table and use a spoon like a proper human being.
Be sure to start your Grab and Go Day by jumping out of bed at the possible last minute muttering, “Shit!”
It’s your day. Seize it! (Gently.)
Look, you know that waking up fifteen minutes earlier is not going to lessen traffic. It’s not going to transform an unsmiling clerk into a smiling one. It’s not going to stop some woman from inquiring about your kid’s lack of teeth. It’s not going to stop a creep from telling you about his sex life.
It will, however, change the way you react to such things. Better yet, you’ll find after a little while, you don’t react so much at all. Everything changes when you give yourself time in the morning to just be. Everything changes when you give yourself the gift of thinking your own thoughts, of watching the light change beyond the window.
You will have time to put your thoughts in order. You will have time to think about your day and how you will spend it. Time will seem to expand, so that you find you’re relaxed and not always in a hurry. You will feel in control.
Please try it for a week. If you’re of those people who’s in the habit of staying up with a glass of wine after everyone else has gone to bed, drink your wine earlier and go to bed. You may think late-night time is the equivalent of early-morning time, but it really isn’t. At night, you’re unwinding. In the morning, you’re greeting the day.
And that makes all the difference. Wake up fifteen minutes earlier and take your life back. You really can be happier tomorrow.
If you liked this post, please share it! I’m curious about your morning routine. Tell me about it in the comments below.