For a long time I took a lot of pride in reading books. In 2012, I decided to start reading something other than Sports Illustrated. I read 22 books (of course this included the Hunger Games series so I’m not sure that counts?). In 2013, I narrowed my focus to money, health, and relationship-type books and crushed 29 books in those categories (plus the 7th Harry Potter book – I have to keep shit light in my life, give me a break).
In 2014, I lost my freaking mind and read 47 books – none of which included witchcraft, wizardry, nor talk of the Capitol. This year, I am currently at 39 books, but with an added twist: I actually have to implement something from these books aside from the Expelliarmus Disarming Spell.
I had an embarrassing realization at the end of last year. I was sitting with my family gloating about how many books I read, and my brother asked genuinely, “So what have you learned from all these books?”
Instead of some sort of philosophic answer he was expecting, my faced turned identical to that little emoji of the embarrassed face. You know the one 😳
I had nothing. I couldn’t list off anything.
“I guess my vocabulary has improved?” I said meekly.
So this year, I’m reading, and then, you know, actually implementing and learning things.
About a month ago I read Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage and implemented some of the happiness factors that he mentions in his book.
For every morning, for the past 22 days, I have done the following:
- List 3 Things You’re Grateful For: Running water, food, your friends, family, coffee, vodka, Chipotle, it doesn’t matter. Every morning, try listing three things that you feel truly appreciative of in your life. Here’s the kicker though, they have to be three different things every morning. This causes your brain to scan for good things in your life rather than what’s wrong with it. Achor calls this the Tetris Effect.
- Write About a Positive Experience (2 minutes): Set a timer for 2 minutes, and write frantically about something positive that happened in the past 24 hours. I stick with the recommended 2 minutes because it causes me to focus in, and is a manageable habit. If I was told to journal for thirty minute in minute detail I would never do it. 2 minutes and times up.
- Meditate (10 Minutes): Oh yes, me and every other health/wellness expert are still recommending this boring, difficult-to-implement, life-changing habit. Here’s a quick how-to if you don’t know how (don’t mind my phone going off halfway through). Meditation has been shown to improve everything from focus to self-awareness, from willpower to better immune function and emotional stability, and even lowers your need for external validation.
- The AM 15: This is not suggested in Shawn Achor’s book. but is something I added for myself. Every morning I attempt to read some heavy literature that is out of my league like Walden by Henry David Thoreau or Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It’s heavy. It’s boring (to me). Yet it helps expand my mind, grow my thinking, and activate my brain in the morning.
TOTAL TIME: 30 Minutes
**BONUSES: Exercise + Random Acts of Kindness are two other happiness factors that contribute to happiness that I try to do daily, but not always with success. These are bonuses for you to try, but I don’t list them above because they are not a part of my morning ritual.
Over the past 22 days I have been complaining less, appreciating more, and have become more productive. I feel genuinely happier and my days are getting started on the right foot.
I’m the kind of dude who reads something, and will share it with others, but not always implements it myself. This experiment has been a game changer for me.
Comment below and let me know what your morning ritual is. Do we do any of the same things? What have you found to be helpful?