A mindful morning can set the tone for the rest of your day by creating focus, clarity and boosting overall happiness, something the founder of The Institute of Global Happiness, Neil Pasricha knows all too well.
As a motivational speaker and author of “The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything”, Pasricha continually searches for ways make his life easier and happier.
Positive psychology research lead Pasricha to take hold of his busy life after developing a simple system for creating mindfulness. “The difference in my life was both immediate and incredible,” he says, referring to the journal that completely turned his life around.
Below Pasricha shares the three simple prompts that he spends the first two minutes of his day filling in answers. “‘Two Minute Mornings‘ is by far the best two minutes of my day, every day,” he says.
‘I will let go of…’
“Letting go of a stress helped me crystallize a worry to avoid mentally revisiting it over and over throughout the day.
Research titled “Don’t look back in anger!” by Brassen, Gamer, Peters, Gluth, and Bluch (2012) reported in Science Magazine, shows that minimizing our regrets as we age creates greater contentment and happiness. The research also shows that holding regrets causes us to take more aggressive and risky behaviors in the future. The most healthy and happy people notice mistakes in their lives and then choose to let them go. This written exercise crystallizes that effect and allows them to pass through your mind instead of sizzling your emotions all day.”
’I am grateful for…’
“The gratitude list helped me prime my brain for positivity, including focusing my attention on a few small commitments – a project to finish, a tough conversation I’d been waiting to have, and a twenty-minute run – and actually sealing the deal. Scientific research supports the positive effect of all of these actions, too.
Research by Emmons and McCullough (2003) shows that if you write down five ‘gratitudes’ a week, you’re measurably happier over a ten-week period. Research shows the more specific, the better. We know if people write down “family, food, job” or something similarly vague over and over, it really doesn’t cause any happiness increase. Our minds don’t relive any specific experience. Try things like: “When Trooper learned to shake a paw”, “The moment I saw Ana bringing me a coffee”, or “How Antonio finally put the toilet seat down,” etc.”
‘I will focus on…’
“The goal of the daily focus is to strip away the endless list of things you could do and instead, create a bite-sized list of things you will do. Why? Because if you don’t, you will mentally revisit your could-do list all day. And that will cause decision fatigue.
No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.
I use the daily focus to write down three small goals I want to achieve (and importantly, can achieve) that day. It feels great crossing them off and satisfying to close the day on a high. If I missed one, I can just add it tomorrow. An example? “Write Chapter 7 for new book, call Erin about PR campaign, and play tennis with Alec.”