Today’s guest blog is perfect for a Monday – the beginning of a brand new week. Psychologist Dr. Lisa Kaplin discusses how we can change the course of each day by doing a bit of reprogramming to our brains. Love the idea of waking up and instantly going to gratitude instead of gripes!
Do you start your day feeling as if you have a thousand pound weight on your chest? Are you likely to lay in bed thinking, “I can’t handle this day?” Do too many “to- do’s” run through your head before you even get all the way out of the bed? Does your day start with you just wishing that it was over already? So many of my clients tell me that this is how their day begins; with dread and anxiety.
I get it. I used to start my day in the same way. I’d lay in bed thinking of all that I had to do that day, of how most of it seemed overwhelming, and some of it downright unpleasant. Yet had you asked me about my life I would have told you that I have a wonderful family, a job that I love, and many events that I look forward to. So why the miserable beginning to each day?
It seems that most of us are programmed to start the day looking for the struggle versus the excitement. Unless you live on a beach with a wait staff, you probably have tasks to do during each day that you don’t particularly enjoy or a to do list that feels overwhelming. So instead of focusing our first waking moments on the people and events that we really look forward to, we end up focusing on the activities that make us nervous or that we dislike.
So what’s the answer? Should we avoid all negative tasks and people daily so that we can just wake up without a care in the world? As nice as that sounds, it probably isn’t realistic. The only way to change our morning programming is to change the channel in our brain to learn to look forward to and enjoy most aspects of each day. You change your programming the way you change a muscle, you work it by changing what you are focusing on.
You need to replace the dreaded to-do list with another thought in order to start your day feeling motivated. It can be as simple as repeating numerous times, “I’ve got this day” or “I can handle this.” Or you can say something kind and simple to start your day such as, “All is well” or “Today is a good day.” When we change our thinking, we change the way we feel and thus how we take on the day. If you start each day by saying, “I can’t handle this,” I can guarantee that you won’t handle it.
It sounds simplistic yet if you observe happy, motivated people, you won’t find that they have fewer obstacles in their lives. Instead you will find that they face those obstacles with a different mindset. It isn’t a rose colored glasses or false sounding affirmation type of behavior, but rather a true focus on the things that they look forward to or that bring them joy within their day. Look forward to your cup of coffee, or getting your kids on the bus, or those fifteen minutes that you carve out for yourself midday. Don’t dread the rest of it, which only brings more attention to how much you dislike it.
Think of your morning routine as a vaccine for the rest of your day. Give yourself a shot of gratitude and optimism. Don’t allow small things to throw you off of that happiness. Instead ask yourself; will I let this situation ruin my whole day or just this minute? Our days are limited so why spend them in dread and misery? Shake off the bad stuff, look for the good, and make your morning madness madly fun vs. madly miserable.