Morning: A Gratitude List
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius
I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. – J. B. Priestley
I have not always been an early riser. Like most teenagers (well, let’s be honest well into my 30’s), sleeping in was luxury I relished. Nine was “early.” I remember my grandma, who automatically rose at 4:30 am telling me that rising early was in my genes, and that, as I got older, it would start to happen. I did not believe her. Turns out, whether you are a morning person or a night person is actually somewhat linked to your genetics, but, if you want, you can also retrain your internal clock.
Nowadays I am typically up at five or 5:30, earlier if I able to get to sleep by nine. If I sleep past 6:30, I feel cheated. Why? Because mornings are AMAZING. Here are ten things I love about morning that just don’t happen other times of the day:
- The birds. As I write this, a Cardinal is chirping on my windowsill. I’m not birder or anything but the sound of the birds singing in the morning is incredibly peaceful and beautiful to me. It helps me immediately be present. Why is it so hard to hear them later in the day? Do they not chirp or are they drowned out by other noises? I don’t know. But I love waking to the sound of the birds.
- The pace. Before seven, people walk slower. It’s true. Notice it sometime. There is less rushing and more leisurely strolling – early mornings are a daily slice of vacation.
- The kindness. In the morning, people say “good morning.” They stop to chat while you are walking the dog or dropping of mail. This seems to fade away as people start to rush to work. If you run or walk, a morning run is an incredible way to connect with people, with a wave, a nod, or a look in the eyes. There is a special code you don’t even have to say out loud. Look a morning runner in the eye, and it’s an automatic, “hey, good morning, isn’t this a great day, we rock.”
- The newness. Every morning is a clean slate. We get to be a new person – whomever we like. This is true about every day no matter when you get up, but for me, it’s a little harder to feel that way if I wake up feeling “behind” or rushed- then it’s just a continuation of yesterday’s to-do list. Up early, maybe partly because of the quiet, it feels “clean.” A new white board for the day.
- The head start. I love the head start. If you are like me and you are sometimes overwhelmed with to-do’s or email or life, starting early is a great way to get an early sense of accomplishment and momentum that helps to propel the rest of the day.
- Breakfast! My family are breakfast people. When I was a kid, on Sundays dad would wake us up early for our “orders” and make us each breakfast to order. Maybe that is why breakfast seems holy to me; it’s a bit sentimental, and by far my favorite meal of the day. Especially at diners.
- Sunrise. Enough said.
- The quiet. It is so lovely and peaceful to wake up to quiet. Recently I was in Memphis, and arose early on a Sunday morning to get breakfast. Walking the streets of a city I am not familiar with before most anyone else was out and about was downright church. I paused at Hotel Lorraine where MLK was shot for awhile, and although I have been there before, being there alone was for more meaningful and moving.
- Forbes printed a few more “practical” advantages to waking up early, things like better grades, better productivity etc. To be honest, I think those sorts of things are more linked to the amount of sleep you get. Waking up early after only 4 hours…not likely productive. Still, they note a few interesting things in their piece.
This is not to cast judgment on night owls. There are lots of benefits to staying up late too – but someone else will have to write that one.
Apparently many prefer to be morning people and are struggling to do it, because there are a kazillion articles and tips about how to be a morning person, including a blog called howtowakeupearly.com and even apps to help you. Just Google it if you want more tips.
For me, a few very simple things happened during my transition to a morning person that may help if you want to check out what is going on before seven a.m.:
- Go to bed early enough to get eight hours before the time you want to get up.
- Don’t drink alcohol the night before.
- Get a dog.
One more thing. The Dalai Lama starts his day with this, and I love it, and I want to share it:
Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.