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On a late San Francisco afternoon, Tim Ferriss, a New York Times bestselling writer, had the pleasure to speak with the world-renowned actor Edward Norton. The two of them recorded this conversation that later took shape as an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast.
Asked to share his view on success by pointing to a successful person, Edward Norton said something that forever changed my own idea of success.
A successful person is one who is in perfect balance with himself- healthy, content, with a purpose in life and mind that is calm and relaxed. This, I strongly came to believe, outranks other definitions of success nine ways to Sunday.
And while we tend to assume that such people are cut from a different cloth, arriving there doesn’t really require a herculean effort.
For the past few months, my fiancée has prepared her psychology thesis on the link between morning routines and these above-mentioned attributes. Helping her along the way, I learned that adding only 5 morning routines with the combined length of 20 minutes can have a serious transformative effect on a person’s life.
The definition of success Edward Norton talked about can, in fact, be in anyone’s reach even before one month comes to an end. If you start implementing these 5 morning rituals you will find yourself easily dodging the cascade of mundane worries, and lead a life that is rich with fulfillment, while enjoying a content state of mind.
So let us go over the nitty-gritty.
Making Your Bed
The outline is simple – making your bed helps you focus on the little things early on in the day. It gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, allowing you to complete another small task and another and another…
Creating a stream of tasks completed, you will feel better about yourself, and have the will and focus to tackle complex challenges as they present themselves later throughout the day.
Making the bed gives you a sense that you are the only one who is in control over your life. Regardless what circumstances bring, you can decide to make the bed and reinforce the notion that every day can be what you make of it.
It takes less than two minutes and brings a very calm and relaxed state of mind that sets the tone for the rest of the morning.
Stretching Early In The Morning
It doesn’t have to be yoga or any known technique. Make up your own moves and poses and start to enjoy the vitality and flexibility of your body.
Getting in touch with the physical aspect of self, you will focus on the here-and-now, becoming more aware of the body and thus your emotional state as well.
This will also help you feel more energized, and the best part of it is that the entirety of the ritual doesn’t require more than 3 minutes.
My fiancée decided to expand her stretching routine for it made her feel even better. Eventually, she ended up working out in the morning as well, doing a dance routine. But you don’t have to pay equal attention to the morning stretch. While I do mock yoga for about 10 minutes, the benefits of the stretch are very well noticeable even after 3 minutes or less.
If you decide to incorporate a workout routine, make sure that it is not something overly intense because it defeats the purpose of a relaxed and calm morning. This sets the tone for the rest of the day, and you don’t want intense workouts to leave you impotently angry and frustrated.
Caging The Monkey With Writing
Sorry for the misleading title, but I do believe this is exactly what you’re going to be doing. This is – plain and simple – journaling on a blank piece of paper.
Just write down whatever comes to mind.
Over time, the ability to be brutally honest with yourself refines, and you will be throwing out the garbage each and every day before it clutters your mind.
There is a symptomatic curve with the way most people go through life – absorbing mundane worries, not being completely aware of emotions and what makes them act a certain way, all packing tight until one day a chaos ensues.
Being able to systematically explore your feelings, aspirations, frustrations, and worries, you will learn what deserves attention and what is ultimately a total waste of energy. Training yourself to be brutally honest in front of yourself, awareness increases and with it, a stream of positive outcomes follows.
It doesn’t have to take a lot. In fact, all that you need is 10 minutes. Apps like Headspace will give you a place to train the mind in ways you never knew possible.
There is a growing stack of evidence linking meditation with lowered anxiety levels, reduced stress, and improved self-awareness.
Sitting down to meditate for 10 minutes (my longest ritual in the morning by far), erases the sense of manufactured emergency in your life, and your mind naturally settles down to a place that is both calmed and relaxed.
You will learn to better observe each thought pattern when it arises, and see emotions and feelings for what they truly are. This sense of balance will bring you closer to enhanced creativity, sense of purpose, and happiness overall.
Make A Breakfast
Stopping to take a minute for yourself is crucial if you want to become a more healthy and balanced person. And there is nothing better than consciously deciding to treat yourself with a nicely prepared breakfast.
I fry egg whites and add oat flakes with tomato pasta, and my fiancée puts a garden variety of fruits and seeds into the blender…
There is no right or wrong approach to this, and certainly not a specific way in which to prepare your breakfast. The goal is to dedicate some time for yourself and see to it that you are beginning the day not rushing to get out or start right away with your daily chores.
These 5 rituals conclude what is a very structured foundation to a healthy body and mind, and a very balanced individual. Remember, ultra-successful people, are cut from the same cloth as both of us are. We just need to set some structural elements throughout the day which will bring us to a more balanced and fulfilled lifestyle. Refining the morning is a perfect place to start.