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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

Why I Have a Morning Routine and How It Makes Me Sharper Every Day

Why I Have a Morning Routine and How It Makes Me Sharper Every Day

Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, remarked that approximately 95% of our society settles for less than what they want in life. In fact, Elrod hit rock bottom after a tragic car accident. Then one morning he decided to go for a run and listen to a podcast and he was hooked. Once he committed to this newfound routine, he uncovered his path to success.

So, how can you avoid being in the 95% and join the 5% who live up to their potential in life? The answer is simple, you have to wake up! In the words of C.T. Fletcher,

“This is your wakeup call, this is your week to make it happen, wakeup the Hercules in you!”

My goal is to demonstrate to you why a morning routine will provide a literal boost in your life and how it will make you a mentally sharper person. I will then show you how to flip the switch and kickstart your own morning routine.

    Photo credit: Source

    My Crazy Morning Routine

    Consider this a revised edition to an article I previously published – 5 Ways My Crazy Morning Routine Will Transform You into Superman. Since I published my morning routine, I have continually tweaked it. I am attempting to manufacture the perfect morning routine, which will then manufacture the perfect day. Let me show you what my routine currently looks like.

    • 3:30 am: wake up, stretch, take a pre-workout supplement, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, 30 bicep curls, and listen to an audiobook.
    • 4 am: take a nootropic, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, 30 bicep curls, and run for 5 miles while listening to an audiobook.
    • 5 am: cool-down, shower, and personal hygiene while listening to an audiobook.
    • 5:30 am: use a posture belt and practice speed reading.
    • 6 am: write or research, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, and 30 bicep curls.
    • 7 am: eat breakfast (unless intermittent fasting), drink Bulletproof coffee, write in 5-minute growth journal, and spend time with family before heading off to work.

      Photo credit: Source

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      Enter Beast Mode!

      Think about your normal routine. Do you find you are typically in a hurry, do you feel tired, or feel like your day always starts off poorly? This is how most people typically start their day.

      By entering Beast Mode and establishing a morning routine, you will set a positive tone for the day. In fact, it has been proven that morning types are more likely to report higher levels of a positive affect and are healthier than non-morning types.[1]

      Your morning routine should be your selfish time. This is time to spend improving you. If you wake up before everyone else, you will find you are free of distractions. If you carve out your own time every morning, you will find that you can focus on the important people in your life when they wake up. Think of it like putting your oxygen mask on first in the event of a crash landing.

      Increase Your ‘Aha’ Moments

      We should allow our brain to operate on autopilot every morning. People typically operate on autopilot when they mediate or go for a long run. When we do this, ideas just seem to just pop into our mind. Stop and think about what you were doing the last time you received an ‘aha’ moment. There is a good chance it came to you while you were meditating, exercising, or taking a shower. When you are on autopilot you are actually entering into what is known as the Default Mode Network (DMN).

      Andrew Smart, author of Autopilot: The Art & Science of Doing Nothing writes that our brain is more active when it is not focused on something specific; basically, it is idle. People typically think that we must be working and thinking all the time, however, neurologist Dr. Marcus Raichle found this to be dead wrong. In fact, he found that certain regions of our brain were deactivated during concentration, yet became super active when we were not focused on a task, where we were on autopilot or in DMN. [2]

      So, if you were ever looking for scientific proof for the importance of meditation or why taking a shower brought you a moment of brilliance, then look no further than DMN. Moreover, the most important thing I found with DMN is that I am able to maximize it with my morning routine. This in turn maximizes my creativity.

        Photo credit: Source

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        Kickstart Your Brain and Metabolism

        By waking up early, exercising, taking a cold shower, drinking a large glass of ice water, you will find that your brain and metabolism will function at a higher level. Again… think about it, you are doing more before 7am for your brain and metabolism than most people do in an entire day.

        Just as our brain is malleable, our metabolism is as well. Exercise physiologist Gary Ditsch remarked,

        “Your metabolism isn’t fixed. You can impact it significantly with your daily activity and diet.”

        Let’s look at how a morning routine can improve your brain and metabolism.

        • Exercising in the morning prepares the brain for optimal learning. Best-selling author and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, Dr. John Ratey found that exercise is strongly correlated with increased brain mass, improved cognition, and new brain cell production. Neurogenesis is sparked by a magical substance known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Aerobic exercise is the optimal vehicle for the production of this magical substance.
        • A morning workout will help you burn more calories in a day. Similar to our car, we burn less fuel at rest compared to when we are moving. Simply put, the more active we are during the day, the more we burn, and the higher our metabolism. It’s simple math, the earlier you start burning calories, the more you will burn in a day.

        Now that you understand the importance and the why of a morning routine, let’s take a look at how you can create your own morning routine.

          Photo credit: Source

          Hack Your Sleep

          Our ‘aha’ moments also increase the moment we wake up from a great night of sleep.[3]

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          So, how can you hack your sleep? Let’s take a look.

          • Avoid caffeine or sugar after 5pm.
          • Shut off your phone, TV, or computer 45 minutes before going to sleep.
          • Use a Fitbit (or similar device) to track your sleep.
          • Supplement with melatonin.

          Also, practice the following breathing exercise.

          The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

          For this exercise, sit with your back straight, place the tip of our tongue behind your front teeth (upper), inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Then do the following: [4]

          • Make sure you exhale completely through your mouth.
          • Close your mouth while you inhale through your nose (count of 4).
          • Hold your breath (count of 7).
          • Exhale through your mouth (count of 8).
          • Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

          Wake up Early the Easy Way

          Let’s now take a look at some tips for waking up early.

          • Take a cold shower as soon as you wake up. I guarantee you this will shock your body and wake you up!
          • If taking a cold shower first thing in the morning is too extreme, try simply splashing cold water on your face.
          • Drink a large glass of ice cold water as soon as you wake up. This will also fire up your metabolism.
          • Move your alarm clock across the room so you have to force yourself to physically get up.
          • Sleep in your gym clothing.

          The Bruce Lee Challenge

          There are many paths we can take when formulating a plan to achieve our goals. I recently came across a unique way provided by travismcashan.com. Travis McAshan calls this The Bruce Lee Challenge. McAshan poses the following question,

          “The Bruce Lee Challenge starts by asking yourself one question: If you could make one simple change on a daily basis that would make the most significant positive change in your life, what would it be? What happens next is up to you…”

          Here is how you can establish your morning routine using The Bruce Lee Challenge.[5]

          • Step 1: Choose your goal. This could be simply starting a morning routine.
          • Step 2: Decide your key objective. Here you are looking to break your goal down into specific and measurable metrics that you can track. For example, let’s say you have the following goals: 1) Wake up every morning by 5am; 2) Run 5 days a week (starting at 5:30am); 3) Read for 30 minutes every morning.
          • Step 3: Commit for 21 days. Human mind takes nearly 21 days to adjust to major life changes. So, try sticking to your new morning routine for 21 days and see what happens.
          • Step 4: Take immediate action. This one is simple… get started now!
          • Step 5: Make a decision. After you have committed for 21 days, now it is time to make a decision. Are you going to continue your new morning routine or not?

          You Have to Want It!

          You can create the best strategy, outline successful and achievable goals, and have the greatest intentions; however, you have to want it. You have to become obsessed with it.

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          The key to success with anything is discipline plus desire. Recently, I wrote an article about C.T. Fletcher. C.T. aspires to be the best and the baddest man on the planet. Let’s see what C.T. has to say about being obsessed with success. [6]

          “If you don’t have the mental capacity to be that obsessed about what you’re trying to get… then you’re never going to have it.” – C.T. Fletcher

          C.T.’s mom used to tell him all the time that sometimes if he’s just a bit too high, he must be brought down. He will be taught a really bad lesson because there’s someone out there just badder than him. But he said no, somebody had got to be the baddest and it would be him.

          Finally, if you remember anything from this article, remember this,

          “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” – Eric Thomas

          Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

          Reference

          More by this author

          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

          Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind 10 Brain Training Hacks to Increase Your IQ, Focus and Creativity How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

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          How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

          Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

          Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

          I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

          You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

          Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

          When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

          I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

          Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

          Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

          Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

          1. The Inner Critic

          This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

          • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
          • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
          • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
          • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

          He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

          Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

          2. The Worrier

          This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

          He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

          Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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          3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

          He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

          He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

          He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

          4. The Sleep Depriver

          This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

          His motivation can be:

          • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
          • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
          • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
          • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

          How can you control these squatters?

          How to Master Your Mind

          You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

          Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

          There are two ways to control your thoughts:

          • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
          • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

          This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

          The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

          Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

          For the Inner Critic

          When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

          You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

          For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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          You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

          “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

          If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

          • He riles up the Worrier.
          • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
          • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
          • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
          • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

          Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

          Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

          For the Worrier

          Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

          Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

          You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

          • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tense

          Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

          If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

          Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

          “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

          Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

          If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

          Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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          Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

          For example:

          If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

          “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

          Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

          “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

          Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

          For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

          Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

          The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

          • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tension

          I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

          Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

          Breathe in through your nose:

          • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
          • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
          • Focus on your belly rising.

          Breathe out through your nose:

          • Feel your lungs emptying.
          • Focus on your belly falling.
          • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

          Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

          Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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          One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

          Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

          For the Sleep Depriver

          (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

          I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

          Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

          1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
          2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

          When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

          From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

          For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

          If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

          You can also use this technique any time you want to:

          • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
          • Shut down your thinking.
          • Calm your feelings.
          • Simply focus on the present moment. 

          Becoming the Master of Your Mind

          Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

          You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

          Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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