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5 Simple Morning Rituals to Supercharge Your Day

5 Simple Morning Rituals to Supercharge Your Day

How would you like to increase your productivity, feel happier and be more confident every day?

The secret to supercharging your day is through the power of a morning ritual.

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How you spend those first few minutes upon waking is a critical factor that can determine the outcome of your entire day. If you wake up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, negative and tired, then you’re definitely not getting the day started off on the right foot. Unfortunately, this is how most people start their day. They focus on all the stuff they have “to do”, then feed their mind with negativity by reading the newspaper, and consuming their cup of coffee to get that caffeine boost to get them going. They are reactive, instead of proactive.

I’m going to share with you five simple morning rituals that can help you supercharge your day. By applying some–if not all–of these tips immediately upon waking, you’ll notice more energy, happiness and that you’ll be more productive throughout the day.

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1. Smile immediately upon waking

As simple as this sounds, smiling can make a significant impact on your mood. By forcing yourself to smile each morning, you’re sending signals to your brain to release chemicals that will make you feel happy. Smiling allows you to be grateful for the gift of today and will help you start off the day on a positive note.

2. Drink water

The next best thing that you can do to take care of your body is by keeping yourself hydrated. Your body is massively dehydrated while asleep and is desperate for water upon waking. Avoid drinking coffee or any other beverages besides water during the first hour of waking. By drinking water, your body will start to wake up and you’ll naturally feel more energized. You might not even require your coffee anymore!

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3. Get moving

By engaging your body in some physical way, you’ll immediately start to feel energized. Your emotions are linked to how you use your body, which is why it’s important to use it first thing in the morning to get yourself primed. Going for a walk first thing in the morning, doing some stretching, yoga, or physical exercise are all fantastic ways to wake your body up, feel more energized, and be more productive throughout the day.

4. Feed your mind

Most people enjoy reading the newspaper in the morning, which can be affecting your mood and happiness levels. Most of the news that you’ll read or see on TV is primarily negative, which affects your mood. Try reading something positive or uplifting each morning, instead of feeding your mind with negativity with the news. Reading a few pages of a good book, watching an inspiring YouTube video, or listening to an audiobook can help feed your mind with that boost of motivation and positivity that will carry you forward for the rest of your day. Even just meditating for a few minutes can help silence your mind and get rid of any negativity, stress, or worries that might flood your mind in the morning.

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5. Plan your day

Spending a few minutes to plan what you want to accomplish that day is one of the most powerful things that you can do to increase your productivity. Most people start the day without a plan, therefore are reacting to whatever comes up. Instead, proactively plan out what you want to accomplish that day and write it on paper. Just the act of writing it out will make your brain focus on it, which increases the chances of you achieving it. Setting goals or intentions for your day can also be a powerful way to set the expectations of what you want to achieve.

By applying just a few of these simple tips each morning, you can radically improve the outcome of your entire day. You’ll begin to feel happier, more productive, more energized, and ultimately get better results. People will notice that you seem different. You’ll feel less stressed and more relaxed. You’ll feel like you are in charge of your life, which will give you more confidence.

You are what you repeatedly do every day. Focus on cultivating these new habits into your life and watch how your life improves.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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