I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you should have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.
This week’s assignment: improve your morning.
If you start the morning in a harried, angry, or frustrated mood, it’s hard to recover your happiness — so it’s very helpful to try to keep the first hour of your day happy and serene.
A friend of mine works full-time and has two young sons. She told me, “For a long time, our mornings were awful — lots of crabbiness and procrastination, me yelling at everyone to hurry up. Then it hit me: I don’t get to spend that much time with my kids during the week, and a big part of that time is during the morning. I made changes so that it became good family time.”
For her, the secret was to get up earlier. She hated to lose thirty minutes of sleep, but that extra half hour made the difference between a relaxed, cheerful morning and a rushed, difficult morning.
What are some other ways to improve the morning?
The most important step actually happens the night before. Turn off the light! I’m good at putting my kids to sleep at a decent hour, but not as good about doing it for myself. It’s tempting to stay up late, to enjoy the peace and quiet, but 6:30 a.m. comes fast, and being overtired makes the morning much tougher.
Also the night before, I practice the “ten-minute tidy-up.” Before I go to bed each night (mostly), I spend ten minutes putting stuff away. It doesn’t take long, but putting away the top layer of clutter makes the morning feel more serene.
As goofy as it sounds, one of my resolutions is to “Sing in the morning.” It’s hard both to sing and to stay grouchy, and it sets a happy tone for everyone.
A friend of mine started each day in a bad mood, because she had to face such bad traffic on her way to work, until getting books-on-tape has completely transformed her day. Now she actually looks forward to being in her car.
If your morning doesn’t take you outside, try to add a little sunlight to your morning. Walk around the block before picking up the newspaper, park further away from school or work. Bright light will boost your alertness, and research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. Sunlight has a particularly powerful effect first thing in the morning.
What else? How else do folks keep their mornings running smoothly? It’s worth the effort to pay some attention here, because the morning sets the tone for the whole day – for everyone.
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If you’re starting your own happiness project, please join the Happiness Project Group on Facebook to swap ideas. It’s easy; it’s free.