“If you don’t have 10 fu–ing minutes for your life, you don’t have a life”.
– Tony Robbins
Self-help superstar Tony Robbins sure does have a way with words. And I couldn’t agree with him more. After all, there are 24 hours in each day – with no exceptions. If you can’t carve out a measly 10 minutes (of the 1,440 that comprise a day) to spend on improving your life, do you really have a life that is worth living?
Now don’t get me wrong, that was a rhetorical question and I would never advocate suicide. I’m simply trying to illustrate that for most of us anyway, we almost always have the time. When you make the claim that you do not, whether out loud or in response to your own inner voice, you are really only fooling yourself. In fact, I will go so far as to guarantee that you have plenty of time; what it ultimately boils down to is your priorities.
What Matters Most
Simply stated, priorities are the varying level of importance that each of us places on the multitude of tasks and activities that we could potentially undertake at any given moment in time. And our priorities, or what matters to us most, are often determined at least to some extent by our underlying values. For example, if you value your relationship with your children above all else, then you may decide to skip out on an after-hours work event to attend your son’s baseball game, even though doing so may be detrimental to your career in the long run. Life is all about trade-offs and our values and priorities help us more efficiently make such decisions.
It’s important to first understand what your true priorities are since they will undoubtedly play a major role in how you choose to structure the first part of your day. If getting fifteen additional minutes of sleep is THE most important thing in the world to you, then your entire ‘morning routine’ will likely consist of nothing more than repeatedly hitting the snooze button. If instead you care more about starting your day off on the right foot and being as productive as possible, you may choose to lose the snooze in favor of a more beneficial practice.
The Meaning of Life
I still vividly recall the following memory from my early childhood: it was pitch black out and my oldest sister, her friends and I were hanging out on a white, sandy beach in New England. For whatever reason, one of the guys told me that he was the keeper of an important secret which he couldn’t share – he said that he knew the meaning of life. Even way back then such a bold and existential statement sparked a burning interest in my adolescent mind; I had to know. I tried my best for the remainder of the evening to pry this great secret from the depths of his mind, but to no avail.
Whether he actually had some golden nugget of wisdom to share or was just pulling my leg, I will never know for certain. What I do know however is that if he had told me his version of life’s greatest mystery at the time, it probably would have meant little or nothing at all to my naive, youthful self. Back then I simply didn’t have the life experience to make sense of such a deep, all-encompassing tenet.
Two decades have elapsed since that night on the beach, and with the passing of time has come an exponentially greater number of learning experiences. I would never say that I’ve got it all figured out (nor am I under the illusion that I ever will), but each day does seem to bring a bit more clarity.
Despite the sheer simplicity of it, there are still many people who will disagree or even scoff at what I’m about to tell you. On the other hand, some of you may already know this, consciously or otherwise…
Are you ready for it?
No but seriously…
Buckle up your seat belt and hang on tight…
The meaning of life…is….
Pretty damn simple, huh?
What actually constitutes happiness though can be quite different from one person to the next, and this is where the confusion can arise.
Gratitude: the Gift that Keeps on Giving
So now you might be wondering what a happiness-inducing morning routine even looks like. And, as with most things in this realm, the answer is that it really depends.
If you don’t have a routine already, you’ll probably want to experiment with a few different techniques to see what works best. The form that your morning routine ultimately takes will also be dependent on how much time you can “comfortably” set aside. I use the word comfortable very loosely here, as starting a new routine of any kind, especially one that unfolds while your eyelids are still heavy and there is no caffeine in sight, is never easy. It is for that reason that you should start with small steps and slowly work your way up. For example, you may first aim to find just one minute for your morning ritual, gradually increasing by another minute once this becomes easy. Simply repeat this process until the desired length has been reached.
I personally begin and end each day in similar fashion, with a brief ‘gratitude practice’ (thank you Matt O’Grady for teaching me this technique – he calls it “book-ending”) which typically lasts anywhere from one to maybe three or four minutes depending on the day. My gratitude practice has been the cornerstone of my personal development efforts since almost day one, and has literally changed my life.
I realize that at first it can be difficult to find much to be grateful for. But this is like forming any other new habit and the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Regardless of your current circumstances, if you are reading this right now then you can and should be grateful for your (life-sustaining) breath. And, most likely you have an abundance of clean oxygen surrounding you, for FREE! You probably also have a roof over your head, a comfy bed to sleep in, family and friends, etc., etc. You get the point. No matter how difficult life may be for you right now…whatever trials and tribulations you are facing, try to keep in mind that to ~98% of the world, we are living our lives like kings and queens.
The way we begin our day can and often will have a marked impact on the unfolding of events that follows. Whether it’s a matter of natural laws (i.e. the Law of Attraction), self-fulfilling prophecy’s, or simply coincidence, most of us have experienced this phenomenon on some level. Therefore you would think that we’d try to do everything possible to ensure we start things off on the right foot, ideally with some positive momentum.
To the contrary, many people still feel that they are somehow “too busy” to make time for this potentially life-altering practice. To those people I’d suggest re-reading the Tony Robbins quote at the beginning of this post and asking yourself very critically, “is this really the life you want to live?”.
What do you do first thing in the morning to start your day off right? Do you have an inspiring routine that you’d like to share?
Other thoughts? Please leave a comment below:
And finally, if you want to learn more about Tony Robbins’ ten minute daily morning routine, you can check it out, here. Talk about #LifestyleGoals.