The alarm goes off and our first thoughts are negative; waking up is a chore. Instead of angrily kicking off our sheets or pressing the snooze button for the fourth time, we need to reassess our attitudes in the first minutes of our days.
We need to wake up with more proactive mindsets. These are the five questions you should be asking yourself the moment you open your eyes:
1. What Am I Grateful For Today?
Instead of getting up every morning and first thinking about what you want — breakfast, coffee, another 10 minutes of sleep — think about what it is that you are grateful for. It’s a trap that most people fall for — a thought pattern that in the end causes more damage than it does good. There is a huge downside to consistently focusing on what it is that you want: by focusing on what you want you are unwittingly and regularly emphasizing all that you believe that you are missing from your life.
If you want a nice car then you must not have one. If you want a girlfriend then you must be lonely. If you want to lose weight then you must be fat. If you have wants then you must be missing something. If the things that you want you believe to be necessary for your happiness, then you must not be happy at the moment. If you need something then you are lacking something; if you are lacking something that you believe will make you happy, that must mean that you are currently unhappy — otherwise you wouldn’t be in need of anything.
The truth is that most of us don’t actually “need” anything more than what we have. Most of us want a lot, but the things that we want aren’t things that we must have in order to be happy; they are things that we believe would make our lives better. But why do we believe that we must always be making our lives better?
When is it enough? Is there a point at which we can say that what we have is enough, and that we no longer want anything that we already do not have? Or is it against our nature to not want? Nature doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s not in our nature to feel this constant starvation for the material; we are not programmed by nature to over consume, but to satisfy. Our need to constantly consume is the result of the constant marketing campaigns we are exposed to by consumerism — the theory that an increased consumption of goods is desirable.
Start each day thinking about what you have that already makes you happy. There is always something to be happy about because happiness itself is a concept that only exists in juxtaposition; no matter how bad your situation, there is always something to find comfort in. Wake up and take a look around you. You most likely have a comfortable bed to sleep in.
You made it through the night alive. You have both of your legs to stand on. You more than likely have a lot more to be happy about than you have to complain about. This is the case for most of us, yet we will make sure that we spend as much time as possible dwelling on all the negative instead. Why focus on the negative and make yourself feel bad when you can remind yourself about all that is awesome and literally feel better about yourself and about the day ahead of you? Focus on the positive in your life each morning and do your best to keep that mindset throughout your day.
2. How Will I Make Certain That I Will Remain In The Moment?
There are essentially two realities to our existence — the outside and the inside, the physical and the mental. Our senses are exposed to the reality that exists outside our minds, a reality that competes for attention with all the thoughts and states that have an existence only within the confines of our consciousness. While philosophers for a long period of time have endorsed introspection and the importance of exploring one’s own mind, it now feels that many of us are losing touch with the outside world.
We spend a lot of time on the Internet, we spend a lot of time playing videogames or apps, we spend a whole lot of time working and solving problems, we spend a lot of time thinking about our lives, our wants, our dreams and hopes. We spend a lot of time thinking, inspecting and contemplating.
Each of us will have this issue to a different extent. There are many of us that are more naturally inclined to live in the physical realm rather than the mental. The problem is that the more intelligent a person is, the higher their IQ or their ability to process information, the less time they will spend interacting with the outside world.
This is a huge problem because the outside world is just as important, if not more important than the worlds that exist exclusively inside our heads. The world that you create for yourself in your mind does reflect upon the outside world, however, your interaction and the happenings in the physical world will also greatly affect your mental take on reality. The important thing to remember is that when people say that they feel alive, they are referring to physical action.
Doing your best to focus on the moment will help you feel like you’re living. No one has ever said that they felt “so alive” after spending 10 years solving a previously believed unsolvable math theory. When you wake up, take in your surroundings. Come to realize that you are lying in your bed — how does it feel? How do the sheets feel against your skin? The pillow underneath your head? How does the floor feel under your feet? How does the chair feel against your back?
Focus on your physical reality first when you wake up and it will be easier to return to this reality throughout your day. If you avoid the physical world, physical exertion, and physical awareness then you will go through life without ever physically feeling alive.
3. What Is My Focus Of The Day?
There are only two things that you should be doing in life: either improving yourself or enjoying yourself. Human beings, due to their powerful brains, have the ability to grow as individuals — a concept that doesn’t really exist among any other animal in the animal kingdom. We have the ability to establish beliefs about the world and then alter them because experience or contemplation has moved us to reconsider these beliefs. Because of our need for progress, developing as an individual plays a strong role in the process of becoming one’s own definition of successful.
We are competitive — just as are all the other living creatures that exist. Although I just mentioned the danger in always looking forward to your next craving that needs satiating, the truth is that there is likely to always be something that we want. We may understand that we don’t need anything additional in order to be happy, but that will never change the fact that as human beings we are programmed to always be wanting of one thing or another to some degree. This, however, does not need to be a bad thing; because we are always wanting of something, human beings make huge progress. We innovate, we improve, we simplify and we create.
Unfortunately, most people do not have a clear methodology when it comes to making improvements. If you go and ask someone the top thing they would like to change or improve about themselves or their lives, chances are that every person will have a difficult time narrowing it down. No one has just one thing they wish to improve — even if they do, chances are that it takes at least a dozen steps or changes that need to be made in order to achieve that one main improvement.
The best — fastest and most efficient — way to improve any area of your life is to do so one task at a time. Multitasking is very much overrated; the truth is that multitasking makes you dumber — seriously, it does. Instead of trying to wrap your brain around all the sh*t in your life, focus on one turd at a time. Once you accomplish one change it’ll be easier to accomplish the second and even easier the fourth, fifth, etc.… Wake up and pick one thing that you will make the focus of your day. Hold onto that purpose for the whole day. Tomorrow you can reevaluate your position and decide whether you need to continue with your sole focus or if you’d be better off changing your focus for the day.
4. What Are The Tasks I Need To Complete Today?
You have personal problems and then you have problems at work, with friends or with family. Life throws us tasks that need to be completed whether or not we are prepared to tackle them. Laundry needs to be folded, floors need to be swept, miles need to be ran, push ups need to be pumped, friends need to be listened to, parents need to be reassured, projects need to get accomplished… The list goes on and on and on and on. Your life will never run out of things that “need” to be done. However, you only have so much time in a single day to do them — so why worry about everything when everything is not within your grasp?
If you’re like me then you have a never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. You do your best to tick off items as you go, but you are well aware that even after you spend hours taking care of the things you need to take care of, you’ll wake up tomorrow with another long list. So what can you do? Tell yourself: f*ck it. There are only so many hours in a day and you can only do so much with those hours. Do what you can do and then don’t do what you can’t; no one can ever ask you for more. Many times we will come to the conclusion that a lot on our to-do list isn’t that important and we will begin to leave such tasks off the list — we’ll begin to prioritize.
The world would be better off if everyone knew how to prioritize properly. Tasks that are most important and/or that have the shortest timeframe for completion ought to be completed first — it’s common sense. Each morning, go over the 3-5 tasks that you need to complete for the day. Make sure not to overcrowd your schedule in order to avoid feeling stressed or rushed. In my opinion, the only things that are worth doing are the things that you enjoy doing. The only things that you enjoy doing are the things that you put some real time and thought into.
If you don’t have the time to produce quality results then either leave the task for when you will have time or don’t bother doing it at all. Producing half-assed results will leave you with a feeling of fulfillment — even though you know you have been busting your ass all day. Prioritize and do so with your happiness in mind. You may end up dropping some things in order to maximize your overall happiness with life.
5. How Will I Enjoy Myself Today?
The Dark Knight
Here’s a weird one for you: wake up each morning thinking about how you will have fun, how you will enjoy your life this day and how you will be happy. You shouldn’t wake up each morning thinking about all the work that you have to put in; it will make you dread waking up, make it difficult to get out of bed and ready to shuffle off towards your office, and make you miserable within the first few breaths you take each day. What’s the point of waking up and worrying about the numbers? Worrying about all the work ahead of you? Trying to fix all the problems that you have? What will it hurt you to start your day with 15 minutes of happy, serene, positive thoughts?
How much better would everyone feel if they would wake up every day, take a big breath of air and exclaim: Let’s Have Fun!!!? Wake up each morning, force yourself to smile and think about one fun activity that you have to look forward to later that day. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few. Do this every day for long enough and you will quickly come to the position where you have too much to look forward to and that thinking about each individual future event will make you late for work; that’s a great position to be in. That’s the position that you want to find yourself in.
We spend too much time worrying, fixing and improving. We are always looking for the next big score, the next big achievement or the next big success. We are constantly working to improve and better our situations. At what point are we allowed to sit back, take a look at where we are, who we’ve become and simply feel grateful? When do we get to enjoy ourselves without feeling like we are slacking or falling behind? I sometimes feel that the secret to success is not caring whether or not you will ever be successful. It’s not the end-goal that matters, but the journey itself. The day for you to be happy won’t come tomorrow, next week or next year. The day for you to be happy, fulfilled and joyful is today. Wake up and get ready to enjoy your life. Tomorrow is never a promise.