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Wellbeing / Health & wellbeing

How to combat a bad day with a notepad (and 5 minutes)

Forget nude yoga and exotic smoothies, this simple morning routine gets big results, writes Lisa McAully.

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When was the last time your day got off to a bad start?

You rush, you stress and (eventually) you make it out the door.

Your morning experience has surprising impact on the flow of the rest of your day; it can impact your mood, mindset and productivity levels.

What if a tiny change to your morning routine could keep bad days to a minimum?  We’re talking a super easy change — not introducing nude yoga and exotic smoothies (though that could shake things up too!)

"All you need is a notepad, 5 minutes and a secret ingredient."

All you need is a notepad, 5 minutes and a secret ingredient (gratitude).

The secret ingredient – gratitude

Research from Northeastern University confirms people who feel grateful for everyday things, are more patient and make better decisions than those who don’t.

Robert A. Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, and professor of psychology at UC Davis has come to the same conclusion. His studies demonstrate a link between gratitude and well-being.  Emmons says “The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life.”

But how do you create a gratitude practice that fits into your morning routune?

How to introduce a morning ritual

Now for the notebook and 5 minutes!

Find 5 minutes in your morning. Next, jot down the date and write three things you feel grateful for (or more if your cup is overflowing).

To get the most out of the exercise:

  • Be as specific as you can. Instead of “I’m grateful for my sister,” go for “I’m grateful for my sister and her help this week. It made such a difference when the kids were sick and home from school.” If you get specific it takes you deeper — it becomes more personal (and less of a general exercise).
  • Remember the little things. You don’t always need to search for grand gestures or life-changing moments. Everyday things matter too. For example, “I’m grateful we have some sunny weather so that I can go for a walk outside” or “I’m grateful for my business and the opportunities it provides.” Little things add up.
  • Use a dedicated notebook. Over time you’ll create a beautiful record of things you’re grateful for in life.

What is the impact of a morning gratitude ritual?

When you actively contemplate what you’re grateful for at the start of your day, it creates a ripple effort.  Intentionally thinking about what you’re thankful for can help you keep things in perspective. It can help you stay focused on what’s important (deep down) and also support you in starting your day in a positive mindset — and that’s a stellar defence against a bad day.

Practicing a gratitude ritual is a bit like exercising a muscle. The more you repeat the exercise, the easier and more natural it becomes; your sense of gratitude will grow and become stronger in the process.

Insights from your gratitude notebook

Once you record gratitude notes for a while, they can sometimes reveal patterns and illuminate what’s important to you.

The answers may surprise you.

Sarah, a 33-year-old physiotherapist and business owner, said after two months her gratitude notes led her to a significant shift.

“Most days I’d write about being grateful for my health as my Mum was sick for a long time. I also need to stay healthy so I can keep up with my business. Then I realised none of my time was going towards it [my health]. I was all work and then big nights out. I made a couple of changes, like less alcohol and more time out, and it feels good.”

Your notes may reveal some juicy self-insights, which could help you make positive changes and feel more aligned.

You’re ready for the day!

A morning gratitude ritual is a simple way to keep bad days in check.

By taking 5 minutes each morning to reflect on what you’re grateful for, you can get clear on what matters and set a positive mindset for the day.

Over time this simple practice can contribute to your sense of happiness and give you some interesting self-insights too.

Time to find that notepad!

Lisa McAully

is a freelance writer focused on providing women in business (soloists, business owners, bloggers and digitally native brands) with purposeful content. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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