Waking up sucks, or that’s what I used to think. It did not matter how much sleep I had or what was happening that day. Every morning, I’d wake up and struggle to get up out of bed. Even when I did finally drag my stiff, tired body out of the warm blankets, I was pretty well useless until after I’d had a shower and a coffee. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve found the secret to not only waking up easier but waking up happier as well. Now, thanks to these three steps, when my alarm shakes me awake at 3:30–4:30 in the morning, I can climb out of bed quite happily and get going. Do you want to know how I do it?
Step 1: The Night Before
Well, like everything, it takes a bit of preparation and a little practice, but if you give it a go, I guarantee that, within a month or two, you’ll be positively leaping out of bed. The first step starts the night before when you get into bed. All that is needed is for you to take 10 seconds as you get into bed to remind yourself that “today could have been your last day” and that “tonight you may die” and that two “tomorrow is unknown and could bring disaster”. Finally, ask yourself, “If today was my last day, did I live it well? If not, where did I fail?”
Now, it might seem a little morbid to remind yourself about death and disaster each night. But by simply planting the seed every night that life and success are not guaranteed, you mentally prime yourself to value your life and your good fortune more. Now, I am not talking about gratitude here — an unfortunate truth of life is that we only appreciate something when we can lose it.
Life for most of us is relatively secure. We can look forward and imagine life continuing as it is as we slowly grow old. We can expect that, despite periodic small disasters, we’ll continue to be fed, housed and clothed, and that while we’ll never get rich, we’ll likely never fall into poverty. In short, it’s easy to fall into a rut and coast through our lives. This somewhat melodramatic mantra gives us a little shock every night and reminds us that what feels so permanent is really only secure for the moment.
Additionally, it forces us to focus again on how we have acted that day. By asking, “Did I live today well?”, we force ourselves to face up to where we failed and where we succeeded. Did we get cross at the kids or slack off at work etc., or did we force ourselves to go the extra mile and do what was right? By looking back every day, we can reinforce what behaviour we want to manifest and what we don’t. It helps to make us better people, but it also helps us to wake up happier.
Step 2: On Waking Up
Next, the following day when you wake up, remind yourself again that “today could be my last day. How am I going to live it well?”, and then get out of bed and get moving. This subconscious reinforcement of the possibility of death is a powerful tool to change your mindset. It reminds you that life is short and uncertain, and if you want to achieve something, then tomorrow may be too late.
Step 3: Project Time
If you want to get up happier and easier, the final thing you’ll need to do is counterintuitively get up earlier. I can hear the groans already, but I don’t mean just wake up and flick through your feeds; I mean, get up and do some work on one of the projects you have been putting off. This project does not have to be too heavy or complex, but it should be meaningful to you. What’s important is that you start the day with something that is both productive of who you want to be and that it is just for you.
Life is chock full of demands on your time. If you are like me, then odds are you are flat out with work, family and friends almost all the time. But by stealing an hour or even half an hour for yourself in the morning, you can give yourself space to do those things you want to do. It doesn’t matter if you want to read a book, play a video game, write a book or even learn another language. By getting up just a little earlier and doing it first thing, you will start the day with a success. The best part is that not only will you accomplish those things you’ve been putting off forever, but you will wake up rearing to get back to it. So, what are you waiting for?
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First Published on https://www.andrew-stadtmauer.com/ on the 13th of September 2021