Changing my morning ritual has made one of the biggest impacts on my overall happiness and productivity while working. No, it’s not switching from a single shot of espresso to a double. But, to some extent, I would argue it had similar side effects.
Our lifestyles and careers may be different from one another, but it’s pretty safe to say that most of us start our work day with a sigh, followed by distractions like Facebook and Twitter to help mitigate some of our frustrations. Let’s not forget coffee. Lots of coffee.
What I came to realize, is that a lot of the content we’re surrounded by these days is exceedingly negative. Social media rants about gun violence, government corruption, abused and now homeless kittens (WHO COULD DO SUCH A THING?!), over-priced rent, and carcinogen-soaked everything clog up our news feeds.
There is something oddly persistent about negativity that crawls through the digital web of our lives.
I found myself asking: If my news feeds leave me feeling irritated, insignificant, and hopeless, then why are these the channels with which I start my day? Something needs to change.
And something did change.
I designed a new morning ritual and called it the Three by Three (3 x 3).
I now begin each morning with an empty piece of paper. Quickly, here are some reasons I encourage doing this ritual on PAPER:
- There is something weirdly meditative about physically writing things out.
- Writing things down seems to make them more likely to come to fruition (for me, at least!).
- This paper is physically in front of your face at all times during your day.
- I type really fast. When I get a piece of paper out and need to think, those few minutes of reflection really get my priorities straight and allow me to take my words more seriously.
Here’s what I write down each morning:
Three Goals I Want to Accomplish Today: Pretty straight forward. I learned this technique from my first boss who used to keep a sticky note stuck to his monitor with three things he wanted to accomplish that day. We will always have an endless list of things we want or need to do (especially if you’re the founder of a company…). Before your day ends, what are the three most important things you need/want to have done?
Three Things I’m Grateful For: Okay, this might sound cliché, but this shit works. Sometimes it feels forced and sometimes it feels completely genuine and either one is completely okay. Write them down anyway.
When you find yourself doing this exercise in the morning and saying to yourself, “I don’t know what I’m grateful for,” this is a perfect time to really do this exercise.
This particular part of the 3 x 3 has attributed to a lot of my resilience and patience with the everyday failures that are part of running a startup. On days that I feel like I have nothing to be grateful for, I start off small, sometimes using the things that are around me as inspiration.
Here are some examples I found from my own, personal 3 x 3 exercises:
- I am grateful for the coffee that will keep me focused today.
- I am grateful for the inbox full of emails, which tells me people are responding to my ideas and thoughts.
- I am grateful for the sources of inspiration that constantly surround me.
Think about the things, small or large around you, that are worth the two second acknowledgement. Finally,
Three Positive Affirmations: I can testify that since I started doing this exercise, revenues have doubled. Admittedly, this is probably the weirdest exercise of the three.
I first learned the concept of Positive Affirmations while attending a Laughter Yoga class which I was vetting to be an experience on my startup's network. The instructor concluded the class by having each person go around in a circle and state a personal affirmation.
At first, I didn’t really see the difference between saying “I want to be healthy/happy,” and saying “I am healthy/happy.”
The word affirmation comes from the Latin word affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.” The idea is that if we say that we want to be something or have something, it means we are striving to obtain it in the future, and not in the present.
"Fall in love with the process and the results will follow." - Bradley WhitfordTweet It!
As someone who is always experimenting with different theories, I decided to give Positive Affirmations a whirl and add them to my 3 x 3 exercise. Six months later, I might even dare to say that it’s one of the most powerful productivity tools I’ve come across in my life today.
When you write your affirmations down, they strengthen you. They bring potential to the actions you desire to manifest. They raise the level of feel-good hormones and push your brain to form new clusters of “positive thought” neurons, just like exercising.
By the time you're ready to answer any angry email, go into any meeting, or take your first phone call of the day, you’ve spent 5-10 minutes:
- Uncovering the three things you know you need to do today.
- Acknowledging some things you’re grateful for.
- Strengthening your thoughts and beliefs to better yourself.
Instead of starting your day with negative influences first, the rest of the day now contains shifting perspectives of positive challenges and things to be grateful for.
It doesn’t matter what kind of job you have, how long your commute is, or whether or not these specific morning rituals resonate with you: find the one that makes you happy and let that be the start of your day.
Lee Rubin is the founder of Wekudo, a marketplace for corporate events and activities. It was at the University of Florida where Lee started exploring the idea of being happy. When she worked for a few years in corporate sales after college, she saw companies struggle with turnover and employee satisfaction. She built Wekudo to help address that struggle and instill happiness back into the lives of employees. Lee has a special interest in art and design and believes the road to corporate success is a superior customer experience. Based between Tel Aviv and NYC, she’s determined to uncover the secrets to corporate well-being and customer satisfaction. She also loves cat Youtube videos, IKEA catalogues and colored markers.
This post originally appeared on Wekudo's blog.
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