THE INC. LIFE

This 38-minute Morning Routine Will Transform Your Day With A Dose Of Positivity

Cultivate the habit of positive thinking

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BY Tanya Mariano - 03 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Positive thinking is a powerful thing. According to the Harvard Medical School, positive emotions have been linked to longer life, improved health, and greater wellbeing. The good news is that the growing body of research that looks into what makes people live happy, meaningful lives – a relatively new field called positive psychology – indicates that the brain can be trained to adopt a more positive outlook.

To this end, how you begin your day matters a lot, says Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of servant-leadership training firm Leadership From The Core. In this Inc. article, Schwantes outlines a 38-minute morning routine – perfect for busy entrepreneurs – that can transform your day and teach you how to become more positive.

 

1. Grab a healthy breakfast – 10 minutes

“Whatever you do, don't skip a healthy breakfast,” writes Schwantes.

But, instead of a bowl of sugary cereal, he recommends going for something equally quick yet healthier, such as a protein berry smoothie or oatmeal. Kalibrr founder Paul Rivera, for instance, says his breakfast almost always consists of oatmeal.

If possible, consider preparing your meal the night before so that you have one less thing to think about in the morning.

 

2. Exercise – 15 minutes

Many entrepreneurs swear by regular exercise.

“Whether it's Muay Thai, swimming, or going to the gym, I exercise before work as often as possible,” says Brian Perley, COO of massage-on-demand start-up Zennya. “This always helps to energize and keep focus.”

Bitcoin Vietnam co-founder Dominik Weil says he follows “a very disciplined workout schedule, usually once in the morning, once in the evening,” in order to relax and clear the mind, refocus, and rethink business strategy.

According to positive psychologist Shawn Achor, daily cardio mimics the effect of taking an antidepressant for the first six months. “This is not a repudiation of anti-depressants. It’s an indication that exercise works, because your brain records a victory, and that cascades to the next activity,” Achor tells the Washington Post.

 

3. Practice “conscious breathing” – 5 minutes

Conscious breathing is a focused, yoga-based breathing meditation that has been found to decrease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in US military veterans, according to a study by Stanford University-based researcher Emma Seppala and her collaborators.

Post-exercise, find a comfortable seated position, and begin to breathe, making your exhales longer than your inhales. Focus on just your breath; observe how it goes in and out of your body.

This practice is not only relaxing; it also improves focus by training your mind to pay attention to just one thing – your breath. It’s the perfect antidote to the frantic, multitasking-obsessed pace of work that a lot of people today have come to accept as normal.

 

4. Set three goals for the day – 5 minutes

Writes Schwantes, “The most successful people start the day by putting their mental focus on something that will make them better.”

Find a quiet corner and ask yourself these three questions: What can you do today to support your personal or professional growth? What will excite you and boost your energy? How can you maximize your productivity?

Write your answers down and have them handy for easy reference throughout the day.

 

5. Ask yourself, “What are three things I’m grateful for?” – 3 minutes

Studies have found that practicing gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction, improves sleep, strengthens relationships, boosts the immune system, and lowers blood pressure, according to the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center.

Close your morning ritual with a 60-second mediation on the things that you are grateful to have in your life. Spend the next two minutes looking back on the previous day and writing down three things that you were thankful for.

By practicing this 38-minute ritual for 21 consecutive days, writes Schwantes, you will train your brain to catch the positives rather than the threats and, in effect, allow it to maintain an overall positive state.