…And a few REALLY messed up ones…
How we start our day determines how we start our new life, a life better than the one we lived yesterday…
Even if your day kicked straight-up fucking ass yesterday, and it was the best day you ever lived period, today is your chance to make it even better.
Years ago I would start my day off with the thought, “Not again, man I don’t wanna get up and do this shit,” followed by something to be “justifiably” mad about, a box of Pop Tarts, a cigarette, a fistful of worries, a fat rail of something to get me going, a few bong rips, a handful of Vicodin and Xanax, a heavy dose of regret, and a Slayer song cranked on 10.
Today, that routine’s evolved a little…
I’ll share it with you in just a bit, but for the time being, let’s just say the new routine’s been pulling much better results.
Today is all we have; we can’t do a damn thing about yesterday, and tomorrow may or may not even come. Yes, it probably will, but it definitely ain’t here yet, and trying to control tomorrow, next week, or three Thursdays from Saturday (huh?) is not only futile, but a direct line to total and complete fucking misery.
Quite simply, today is the only place we can operate from. It’s our driver’s seat to the winding road of life. By making today our primary focus, we are allotted all the power we need to do and create great things.
When we wake each morning, we are reborn into a new existence—we get a complete do-over and another chance to get this thing right. Resurrected and our sins washed away, we are given a fresh palate and a blank canvas on which to create our life…and it all starts on the inside, right at the very ground zero of our being.
I mean, let’s face it, if we feel like stir-fried shit and are bombarded with a bunch of fear-based thoughts, and then go jump into a long list of things that don’t empower us, or worse, activities that suck the very spirit right out of our bodies (like a job we hate, cough cough), then our chances of doing great things and being who we wanna be are about as dead as Dillinger.
And it all starts with how we start…
So…here’s a hungry-man’s-sized buffet of activities that are all great ways to get your day going, and below this list I’ll discuss creating a morning ritual, and give you an example of my own (No processed foods, narcotics, or Satan music required)
1. Give it Up
I’m not a religious person, and whether you are or not matters little…but I will say that there’s huge power in realizing you don’t control shit outside of your own actions.
Handing your life over to whatever you believe is running the show here (even if you have no fucking clue what it is…’cuz I sure don’t) can take away that entire mountain of stress which resides right there on most of our shoulders, most of the time.
I typically roll right outta bed and straight onto my knees and bust out my own version of the classic “Thy Will, Not My Will, Be Done.” But of course, how you do it is an individual thing. The point is to surrender to a strength and power greater than yourself and most likely greater than you can even fathom.
Trying to control outcomes…people…situations…life, is probably the most stressful way there is to live.
Doing what you can and accepting how things turn out, surrendering to the “Isness” of it all, even when you don’t like it (especially when you don’t like it) is key if you wanna have a great day.
And it all starts with the simple act of surrender, so why not hand the whole fucking day over right when you get up?
2. Be Still
We run around all day like reality TV constants on Adderall, lost in any one of the day’s 60,000 mostly random, useless, and fear-based thoughts, in the never-ending hamster wheel of getting shit done.
We need to breathe.
To have the most badass day possible, it’s important to remain unattached from not only outcomes, but also from the craziness of everything—to kinda be able to step back, remove our attention from the illusion, and see things for what they are without getting 100% lost in the drama…
…And meditation is great for this. 20 or 30 minutes to sit still and get a little internal balance going on before launching yourself into the world of “getting shit done” can change the entire way you look at the world. There’s a million different ways to do it; I just sit down on something comfortable, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. It’s really as simple as that.
3. See It
Most of us start off our days picturing stuff that we either regret (past) or that we don’t want to happen (future). A strategy that gets much better results is to picture things we wanna experience.
I probably don’t need to go into the benefits of visualization here, because unless you’ve been living in a meth house in San Bernardino for the last ten years, you undoubtedly know about its benefits. You can go balls out Psycho-Cybernetics Style, or just spend a few minutes seeing the life you want as if it were already happening.
I mean, most of us spend so much time seeing a bunch of dreaded shit we hope doesn’t go down that we could definitely use some positive imagery projected onto the screen of our minds to get a little mental smile going on.
4. Positive Self-Talk
Repeating some positive self-talk, while it may seem goofy as hell at first, can have a huge impact on what you think you’re capable of and what you’re able to accomplish.
Years ago, when I first started my personal training business, I would constantly and enthusiastically tell myself “I make 6 Figures as a personal trainer, I make 6 Figures as a personal trainer…” This not only helped me believe it was possible, but before long, that’s exactly what I was doing—making 6 Figures as a personal trainer.
Now, I also worked my ass off to make it happen, but believing that I could do it was a huge part of the equation, and repeating it to myself over and over really helped me to cement the belief of what was possible.
5. Past-Tense Positive Self-Talk
Talking to yourself about something you want to experience or accomplish, as if you’re sharing it with a friend or supportive loved one, in the past tense as if you’ve already accomplished it is the FUCKING GOODS.
I’ve personally had great results with this one and seem to be able to picture things at a much deeper, more believable, and more enthusiastic level than with regular visualization techniques. For some reason, I’m really able to get into this technique, just as if the conversation were really happening.
6. “I Love You, Man” Said the Dude in the Mirror
Look in the mirror and for 1-2 minutes repeat “I love you. I love you” …and mean it.
Years ago, when I was going through a brutally trying time, I would look at myself in the mirror, full of self-hate, and tell myself what a piece of shit I was.
Turning this around now, into a warm and fuzzy exercise of self-love, has proven to be a powerful healing practice. Let’s face it, we’re all pretty fucking wounded, and have more scars than a X-Games skateboarder.
It may be goofy as hell, but it sure works to create a space of compassion and love for ourselves, which, in a world where we spend a lot of time beating up on ourselves for not being good enough, is sorely needed.
7. Watch Inspiring Videos
One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to watch inspiring videos on YouTube; there’s tons of em’ on there.
“How Great I Am” is one of my favorites
If you’re like me, you probably like to watch a bunch of gangsta shit like Breaking Bad…but if you’re looking to start your day off with optimism in your swagger, try dumping some positive vids into the consciousness. Heck, even a quick one while sitting there on the bathroom thunder box can do wonders to your attitude.
Reading is good for you in like 14,327 different ways (no shit, maybe even 14,328 different ways, but who’s counting).
Reading can help you to relax, inspire, learn, laugh, and grow. Whether it’s a chapter from a book or a simple motivational quote, reading for 2 minutes or 20 (again, the bathroom thunder box is great for this) can help you to get focused on what’s important and what works, before you head out to conquer your day like the fucking spartan warrior you know you are deep inside.
9. Positive Audios
For about a decade and a half, I started my day off with the most angry, fucked-up, loud, and aggressive music I could find. My thinking was that it would “fire me up” for the day. Well, it did fire me up—but being fired up like we’re about to jump into the middle of an MMA fight isn’t really the best mindset to get a positive, creative, and balanced day going on.
Now, I still jam the psycho-angry stuff when lifting heavy, but that shit seeps in the system, mostly on a sub-conscious level, and can act as ‘High-Octane Bad Attitude Fuel.’
Even a lot of the plain old boring bubble gum pop music the masses like is filled with negative lyrics; it might not be hateful and violent like a lot of the more aggressive music, but if you break it down, the lyrics aren’t really all that empowering.
Personally I’ve had better luck putting in positive stuff, like Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Joe Rogan Podcast, Shawn Achor, and all kinds of happiness, spiritual and personal development stuff.
10. Remember Just How Fucking Good You Have It
You have an amazing life with soooo many awesome things to be grateful for it’s ridiculous.
For one, no matter how big your problems are, I bet you have food in the fridge and a roof over your head and there isn’t an army of badass motherfuckers on horses coming over the hill right now to kill everyone and burn the village down. Not tonight at least.
And this is just for starters; I bet there’s so many cool things going on in your life you couldn’t even count ’em.
Thinking about the things you’re grateful for can help put you into one of the best states of mind you can be in. Some people like to write ’em down in what they call a Gratitude Journal, but I just run through them in my mind and give thanks to Whatever is Running The Show Here for all these great things I got going on…no matter how much shit I may be going through at the time.
Let’s face it, your life straight-up kicks ass. If you ever need a little reminder of how good you have it, just read my 35 Reasons Your Life Kicks Fucking Ass Post
11. Lift Someone Up
One of the coolest ways to start the day is to lift up someone else. This could be a small token of appreciation, a random act of kindness, an empowering and personal text message, a phone call or email to someone, public kudos on Facebook, you name it. There’s a million little ways to lift people up.
The great part about it is, when you lift others up, not only are you lifting them up, but you’re also lifting yourself up in one of the most powerful and effective ways known to man.
Sweat and get your heart rate up everyday no matter what. I don’t care if it’s racquetball, mountain bikes, running, CrossFit, angry sex, or powerlifting.
There’s just something about getting your sweat on, muscles moving, lungs working, and endorphins flowing, that makes the rest of the day a helluva lot more awesome to take part in.
Going for a walk is not only great exercise, but it also has meditative qualities to it and is a great time to ponder and reflect.
Plus, it gets you outdoors which is an added bonus.
Yoga aligns the mind, body, and spirit and can make you feel centered, balanced, and awesome.
15. Active Stretching
Tight muscles can not only cause all kinds of aches and pains, jack up your posture, and make you feel like shit, but they also make it much easier to get injured as you go about your day…
…And nothing sucks more than throwing your back out while bending over to pick something up, jacking up your shoulder while taking a nap, or hurting your knees while meditating…something that happened to me recently.
I’ve been doing heavy squats for years without a single knee problem, and then I screwed up both my knees just sitting there meditating! Which I why I no longer sit in the lotus position like some long-haired 1969 Indian dude in a white flowing robe with a big ass flower in his hair and LSD in his glare. I now sit in a comfortable chair.
My favorite stretching routine to get the day going is Joe Defrnco’s Agile 8. It’s quick, simple, and effective
16. A Healthy Meal
Starting your day off with some Fruity Pebbles, Crispy Cremes, Croissants or an Egg McMuffin is like locking down a front row seat to the shit show (no pun intended). It’s hard to feel great when you fuel yourself with toxic sludge. It’s like filling your gas tank with mud.
A better strategy is to start off your day with some quality protein, healthy fats, and some sort of fiber, ideally in the form of vegetables.
17. Fresh Raw Veggie Juice
Putting back a big tall glass of green goodness is great way to make your whole body go “Fuck Yeah!” Being deficient in vitamins and minerals will make it so your body just won’t run nearly as effectively as you need it to.
A fresh raw veggie juice is a one of the best ways to make sure you have your bases covered.
Being dehydrated like that pet Iguana you had in high school but lost and found dead behind the couch two years later, all sucked-up and dry , will straight-up make it hard to be happy.
Start each day off with a Shaquille O’Neal sized glass of water, or better yet, make it two.
19. Good Tunes
Music can help put you into the right mood, especially if it’s upbeat and something that you can really get into. Consider skipping the super-agro shit that just gets you so amped-out you wanna go blow shit up and start brawls with angry biker gangs. Unless of course it’s Squat Day, then all bets are off.
Some people, myself included, get their best ideas in the shower. I’m not talking about the 5-minute shower before your rush out the door. I’m talking about the kind of shower where you chill out a little bit and actually take time to enjoy the damn thing.
There’s something about the passiveness of it, combined with water, that seems to be able to temporarily strip off enough layers of ego to allow your true creativity to shine through. Maybe it has to do with being naked as well—hell, I don’t know, but the point is that it works.
I like to shower at home myself, but if you commute and train on the way to work, it may not be ideal for you. The typical health club locker room, with old dudes blow drying their balls, ain’t my thing.
One time I saw a grown man in a health-club locker room popping a massive zit on another man’s face. It was one of the most disturbing things I’ve even seen.
And another time, back in the day when I was working at a print shop, I would stop on my way to work and train at a Bally’s. I got out of the shower and I’m standing naked in front of my locker, drying off and getting ready to get dressed…when all of a sudden, this old naked dude who looks about 90 steps over the bench to get to the locker next to mine and I feel his bare ass cheek rub against my bare ass cheek…
…Then he falls, and I fucking catch him.
Here I am, naked as the day I came in, holding this super old naked dude, like one would hold their ballroom dancing partner right before giving them a big ol’ fat kiss. I look at him, and he looks at me, shaking, basically from being old as fuck and the fact that he pretty much just ate shit…and ya know what? We kinda shared a little moment together.
I went off to my day, and he went off to his, but we’ll always have that embrace; it’s something no one can ever take from us.
21. Love on Your Mate
Anything from cuddling to love making can make you feel real gooooood before getting your day on. Being spontaneous with it even makes it better.
22. Remind The People You Love Just How Much You Love ‘Em
Love is the most important thing there is. It’s our highest purpose. If you’re fortunate enough to have someone in your life who you love, or maybe even a whole bunch of ’em, let ’em know it.
“You are what you love, not what loves you.”
― Charlie Kaufman
23. Do Something That Makes You Feel Happy
We all have things we enjoy doing, are good for our spirits, and make us feel empowered. But all too often these things get put off off while we’re busy getting shit done.
Why not put these things first?
The shit we gotta get done ain’t goin’ nowhere, ya know?
I live in a little coastal town in Southern California and you’d be amazed at how many people from all walks of life go surfing first thing in the morning before trekking off to their day jobs as a doctor, lawyer, sandwich maker, or whatever it is they do all day. But in the morning, they surf. Some of these guys have been doing this shit every day for 30 or 40 years…’cuz it makes them happy.
What’s your thing?
24. List What You Wanna Accomplish Today
I like writing down what I wanna accomplish the night before, but some people like doing at the beginning of the day. Either way, having a clear-cut plan of how you want your day to flow can be great for focus and productivity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going with the flow, but if you have a business, some goals, or maybe a vision of what you’d like your life to be like, usually it requires more than just waking up and being intuitive. And if you’re anything like me, your intuition will tell you to check Facebook 38,000 times and take the day off and go to the movies. And while there ain’t nothing wrong with that once in a while, it’s hard to achieve anything great while you’re sitting in the movie theater, watching the previews and tweaking out on who left what comment on your newest Facebook post.
25. Review Your Goals
Taking a look-see over what you’d like to accomplish in the next week, month, year, or decade is a great way to keep your eye on the ball.
Reviewing your goals like this, keeping them fresh in your mind, will consciously and subconsciously give you a sense of what kind of people, experiences, and things to seek out that can you get where you wanna go.
26. Review Your Purpose
Remembering why you do what you do is a fantabulistic way to lace up your boots before trudging out into the daily battlefield of life.
Is it for your kids? To make the world a better place? For freedom? Start with why.
27. Time With the Fam
Breakfast with the family, time with the kids, time with your spouse…this is good stuff.
Oftentimes we spend far too little time with our family while we march through our day in the never-ending pursuit of “more.” Spending some quality time with the fam before we go off into the craziness of the day is one of the best things we can do with our time. I used to rush to the computer in a workaholic frenzy to get shit done, spending little, if any, time with my children. This is one of the biggest regrets of my life.
Writing in a journal, blogging, or busting out a few pages of that novel you’re working on is one of the most straight-up awesome ways to start the day there is.
Many an author wrote their book(s) first thing in the morning, before they went off to their regular job-type-job. Without doing that, a lot of them would have never ended up writing a thing.
I once heard Tim Ferris talk about how the best writing gets done between 10pm and 6am, basically before the rest of the world gets up and after they go to sleep, helping to keep us writers free of interruption. I’m a night person, and do my best writing late at night.
If you’ve been wanting to write that book, start that blog, or just do some simple journal writing, try getting on it first thing in the morning. Maybe you’ll have the same positive experience as so many other writers all over the globe. And it doesn’t need to be super early, you can just do it before getting on with the rest of your day.
Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.
30. Talk to a Friend
Calling up a friend to chat can empower the both of you to have a kick-ass day. Let’s face it, life is motherfucking tough sometimes, and some days it can feel like it’s an all-out war out there. Having a few good friends with you in the foxhole can make it so it doesn’t feel like you’re a one-man wolf pack all the time.
31. Ask Yourself Empowering Questions
The questions we ask determine our destiny. That sounds like a line from Tony Robbins or one of those super-hyper self-help dudes, and it probably is. I think I first heard it from Tony.
No matter who said it, it’s true. Our minds will set out to find the answers to the questions we ask.
If we ask ourselves “What can I do to empower the lives of others today in the most impactful way possible?” we’re gonna get a whole different set of answers as compared to if we ask, “Why does my life suck so much?”…or “Why does all this bad shit keep happening to me?”
Instead, ask yourself things like…”How can I make today the best day possible for me and everyone I touch?”
“How can I make this world a better place today?”
“How can I make as much progress as possible on my goals today?”
“How can I be the most badass motherfucker I can be today?”
32. Do the Thing You’re Passionate About
Whatever it is you’re passionate about in life is a great way to start off your day.
I don’t care if it’s guitar, drums. or bass…whatever it is, fucking jam man…rock that fucker like there’s no tomorrow. Do the thing you burn to do deep in your soul, the thing that if you go two or three days without it, life starts losing it’s meaning.
33. Do One Big Thing That Moves You Toward Your Goals
20% of what we do gets us 80% of our results, but most of us spend 80% of our time doing the shit that gets us just 20% of our results.
This is known as the Pareto Principle
Now, these numbers aren’t set in stone, but they’re pretty accurate, usually within just 5 or 10%.
Knowing this, why not do one of your big high-powered, high-result activities first thing, before getting caught up in the emails, Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, and rabbit hole of totally reactivate busy-work that can suck out your fucking soul and keep you from doing what you know you’re meant to be doing down deep inside?
34. Sit and Reflect On What You Can Do to Make Today the Most Kick-Ass Day Possible
Sitting somewhere, outside around some nature if you have access to it, maybe with your dog, and thinking about the day ahead, looking for all the ways you can make it as kick ass as possible for you and everyone involved, is a POWERFUL fucking way to tear into your day…POWERFUL
This is the kind of quiet time very few of us do enough of.
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Creating your morning ritual…
Obviously it would take you all day to do all 35 things on this list. That’s why I say treat it like a buffet. Even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes in the morning to empower yourself and launch you out into the day, pick a few small things that work with your interests, lifestyle, and time allotment.
If you aren’t currently in the habit of doing positive stuff in the morning, start small. Pick one thing, do it for 3 or 4 weeks, make it habit, and then stack another one on top of it.
Over the course of just months, you could have 3 or 4 new habits going, creating a nice little morning routine for yourself.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
My morning ritual…
My favorite time is between about 11pm and 1am, when the world is asleep. This is when I do my best reading and writing…sitting in the dark in my fake leather recliner, window open, breeze coming up off the Pacific.
I usually get up around 9am, and I don’t like to start to work until 11am or maybe even later…and being a night owl, that suits me just fine. I actually take a few hours in the morning to do my ritual, and I can’t even begin to express the difference it’s made in my life.
Now, I can tell you, I didn’t start all these at once, and this routine is constantly evolving.
After the basics…pee, brush teeth, iced-coffee, make bed, and give my loved ones big hugs and kisses, I get onto the more official stuff…
– Pray (Basically my own version of “Thy Will, Not My Will, Be Done”) Again, I’m not religious, I just pray to whatever is running the show here (and I have no idea what it is, but I don’t need to know, that’s for some other guy to know…me? Not a fucking clue, I just know it does a better job of running the show than I do.) This takes me 1-2 minutes
– I look in the mirror and say “I love you” over and over. Shame and self-hatred are two things I’ve dealt with on a deep level in the past, and I’ve found this routine routine to be super helpful.
A 6’6″ 300-something-pound tattooed shaved-head dude getting teared-up telling himself that he loves himself in the mirror, is awesome…part hilarious, but 100% awesome – takes about 1 minute
– I read something positive for about 5-10 minutes (right now I’m going through The New Psycho-Cybernetics again)
– Think about things I’m grateful for – 2-3 minutes
– Positive self-talk about things I want to come true as if they’ve already happened. I basically act like I’m calling a good friend and telling him about all the awesome stuff going on in my life – 2-3 minutes
– Meditate – I just focus on my breath – 20-3o minutes
– Healthy egg-white based breakfast with fresh raw veggie juice and fish oils – I am very blessed to have an amazing woman in my life who makes this for me, so all I need to do is consume it and say thank you (= …. 15 minutes
– Train or walk – 30 – 60 minutes
Now, as you can see, that’s a whole bunch of positive stuff I’m doing, and it really doesn’t take all that long…and thank God I don’t need to clean that damn juicer, ‘cuz that thing takes for fucking-ever.
You can also mix, match, and rotate your rituals. For example, visualization on MWF, and meditation T, Th, and Sat…that sorta thing
Like I said, the positive impact that doing routines like this has had in my life is more than anything I could ever put into a blog post.
Now, you may not want or need this level of positive goodness to start off your days with, since hopefully you escaped some of the “tortured artist” bullshit I’ve had going on as long as I can remember. Chances are, you already got your shit more together than I do, so you may be able to get off with 10 burpees, 5 Hail Marys, 2 Our Fathers, and a protein shake.
Whatever the case may be, a set a habits to start off your day and give you the best chance of having the most awesome day possible, is always a good thing.
The world can be a tough fucking place, and life ain’t easy…that said, life is fucking awesome. Man, just the fact that we exist is mind-blowing and something we can’t even begin to grasp the true concept of.
Our life is the best thing going, and when we take it one day at a time—which is all we have, just today—we can minimize the stress and frustration, and maximize the fun and the awesome.
The good news is, it’ all up to us. Nothing outside of us gets to decide how we’re gonna feel today, only we do. Sure, the shit may hit a few fans, but we don’t gotta let it fly all over us.
WE decide how our days are gonna go, not some outside circumstance; it’s up to us.
Deciding to do some positive things in the morning is one of the best things we can do to unleash all the amazing power the day has in store…and what a mighty fucking day it is (=
If you liked this post, I’d be stone cold honored if you would push some of those social media sharing buttons like the Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Google Plus buttons at the top of this post and share it with your friends.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comment section, and if you have a morning routine of your own that you’re diggin’, by all means please tell me about it.