Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

4 Pictures That Teach How to Do a Powerful Morning Routine

Do you want to get the most out of your mornings?

What you do first thing in the morning has powerful effects on the rest of your day. In a recent article, I shared four pictures created by Gapingvoid, a culture design firm, which explained the science of motivation and confidence.

In this article, I will use four (more) pictures created by Gapingvoid, which I had them create in order to explain how to create high performance, focus, and well-being in your morning routine.

If you engage in these behaviors in your morning, not only will you have greater clarity and focus in your life, but you'll be able to make tangible and accelerated progress toward your goals.

Gratitude

Gapingvoid
Gratitude
Source: Gapingvoid

According to gratitude expert, Dr. Nate Lambert, "Gratitude has been defined as an emotion or state resulting from awareness and appreciation of that which is valuable and meaningful to oneself."

Recent research has demonstrated that feeling grateful enhances physical health, promotes positive reframing of negative situations, increases life satisfaction, and enhances comfort in voicing relationship concerns.

According to Dr. Robert Emmons, one of the world's leading scholars on the subject of gratitude, keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most powerful things you can do to experience the benefits of gratitude.

Gratitude can change your brain and overall emotional state. When you wake up each day and think about what is good in your life, you shift your selective attention. You train your mind to focus on the positive.

According to Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, many people focus on "the gap" in life, when instead, they could focus on "the gain." As Sullivan explains: “The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.”

When you look back on all the progress you've made, you train yourself to see progress. This gives you a great sense of moral and progress, which can enhance your confidence and motivation.

Gratitude does not only need to be for what has already occurred, though. You can experience gratitude for what is presently in your life, and for what you anticipate to achieve.

Write In Your Journal

Gapingvoid
Write It Down
Source: Gapingvoid

“Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know — and what we don’t know — about whatever we’re trying to learn.”

— William Zinsser

In addition to writing what you're grateful for, writing in your journal about your life, your thoughts, your goals, and your emotions have some powerful effects.

In fact, research has shown that expressing your thoughts and emotions in your journal can enhance your emotional intelligence.

In the morning, before you put your face in your smartphone and bombard your emotions with all sorts of stimulation, you could put yourself in a peaceful environment, pull out your journal, and simply begin writing.

It doesn't really matter what you write about to start. If you need prompts, using questions to start is helpful. A few example questions could include:

  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What do I want to accomplish today?
  • What's important to me right now?
  • Who do I need to support or help today?
  • What are five great things that have happened this week?

According to the theory of Narrative Identity, we all formulate stories about our lives to explain who we are. A healthy form of psychological flexibility is the ability to begin healthily framing your narrative.

Memory is flexible. How we see our past continually changes and updates based on where we currently are as individuals. As the psychologist, Dr. Brent Slife states in the book, Time and Psychological Explanation:

“We reinterpret or reconstruct our memory in light of what our mental set is in the present. In this sense, it is more accurate to say the present causes the meaning of the past, than it is to say that the past causes the meaning of the present… Our memories are not ‘stored’ and ‘objective’ entities but living parts of ourselves in the present. This is the reason our present moods and future goals so affect our memories.”

In the morning, you can face your past, reframe it, and organize your narrative identity in a way that moves you forward in your life. You can also write your goals down and the things you want to accomplish in your life.

Below is an example of my own personal journal. I've found that having a few things written in the front cover are very helpful for priming positive emotions and confidence.

Specifically, in the front cover of my journal, which I see at least one time per day, I answer the following questions:

  • Where am I right now?
  • What are the wins I've had in the past 90 days? (measuring the Gain)
  • What are the wins I want in the next 90 days?
  • Where do I want to be in three years?
  • Where do I want to be in one year?

I go through about one journal per month. Consequently, if I wanted to review where I was and what I was focused on during a given month or period of my life, these front-page questions are a quick way to find where I was.

Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D.
Journal
Source: Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D.

Visualize With Your Mind And Emotions

Gapingvoid
Assume the feeling
Source: Gapingvoid

“According to research on mental rehearsal, once we immerse ourselves in that scene, changes begin to take place in our brain. When we are feeling the emotions of our future — whether that’s gratitude, joy, freedom, abundance, enthusiasm, love, and so on — the creative thoughts in your mind can become the experience. As the body receives the chemical signals of these emotions, essentially the body is receiving the signal that the event has already occurred.”

— Dr. Joe Dispenza

Research has shown that the same brain patterns were activated when a weightlifter 1) lifted hundreds of pounds, or 2) when they only imagined lifting.

Research shows that doing both the actual activity as well as visualizing the activity produce better results than doing just one or the other. But visualization is much more powerful when it is emotional and cognitive, not just cognitive.

Writing down what you want and seeing it in your mind is one thing. But experiencing emotions, as though the event occurred, can really active the brain. The more emotional your visualization, the more powerful it will be. Your body and brain will come to expect what you're looking for.

Taking just a few minutes to mentally rehearse and emotionally experience what will happen before a performance will improve your performance. Calming your emotions. Feeling gratitude for the experience. Sensing peace about what will happen. All of these things allow you to be in the moment and emotionally detach from the outcomes that occur. You can have peace and presence in your performance. Doing this first thing in the morning can allow you to operate with confidence as you strive for your goals and accomplish your day's tasks.

Do Something Courageous

Gapingvoid
Courage
Source: Gapingvoid

“If you’re willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to becoming an artist.”

—Seth Godin

Courage has been defined as an intentional action toward a personally meaningful goal, involving risk.

Courage isn't courage if there isn't risk. There has to be a chance that something could go wrong. There are no guarantees with courage.

And this is why most people don't proactively act courageously on a daily basis. For the most part, we try to operate and act within what is certain and known to us.

But if you have goals you're striving to accomplish, then those goals are likely above and beyond what you currently have or know. In other words, it often takes courage to rise above your current level of performance or situation to reach your goals.

Courage is often required to move forward in your life. As the author, Timothy Ferriss said, "A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have."

If you want to move forward in your life, you will have to attempt things that may likely fail. Failure will need to be reframed as learning and feedback. This is what Carol Dweck called the "Growth Mindset."

If you're not failing, you're not learning much. Or, you're not learning fast enough. Other research on endurance athletes has shown that the more pain and difficulty a person is willing to put themselves during their training, the more pain tolerance they will create, which ends up being more relevant to high performance and success than other factors, such as lung capacity, etc.

Pain tolerance and risk tolerance: these end up being very important if you want to change your circumstances and improve your life.

Conclusion

Every morning, you can trigger positive emotions, such as gratitude. You can write down your history, frame your identity, and write your goals.

You can visualize and experience emotions from your future self. You can then begin acting courageously toward your goals. You can embrace failure and forward movement on a daily basis.

If you did these four things every morning, you'd likely have positive emotional well-being, an internally generated narrative identity, clear goals, and you'd be making forward progress, behaviorally, toward those goals.

References

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc..

Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.

Emmons, R.A. (2010). 10 ways to become more grateful. Berkeley.Edu. Source: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_ways_to_become_more_g…---------------------------

Hardy, B. (2016). Does It Take Courage to Start a Business?.

Lambert, N. M., Clark, M. S., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude: Expressing gratitude to a partner changes one’s view of the relationship. Psychological Science, 21(4), 574-580.

Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Stillman, T. F. (2012). Gratitude and depressive symptoms: The role of positive reframing and positive emotion. Cognition & Emotion, 26(4), 615-633.

Lambert, N.M., Fincham, F.D., Stillman, T.L., & Dean, L.R. (2009). More gratitude, less materialism: The mediating role of life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 32–42.

Ranganathan, V. K., Siemionow, V., Liu, J. Z., Sahgal, V., & Yue, G. H. (2004). From mental power to muscle power—gaining strength by using the mind. Neuropsychologia, 42(7), 944-956.

Rate, C. R., Clarke, J. A., Lindsay, D. R., & Sternberg, R. J. (2007). Implicit theories of courage. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(2), 80-98.

Slife, B. D. (1993). Time and psychological explanation. SUNY press.

Smith, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence and Professional Education: The Use of Narrative Journaling. International Journal of Learning, 16(7).

advertisement