By Nina Gustafson
I work in academia in Cambridge. Lately I have felt that this work takes the best out of me. Although I like what I do I have had an increasingly strong feeling that this can’t be it; there has got to be something more to life. There are always friends and family but everything seems to follow a given path. Moreover, I don’t seem to be alone having feelings of doubts but many of my friends and colleagues have given voice to similar thoughts of questioning and discontent (deep dissatisfaction is probably closer to the truth). So I started wondering what to do with my life: potential new careers, new hobbies and life changes in general.
While I was browsing the web for things to spice up my life and give it an extra spark, I spotted the book “The miracle morning: the 6 habits that will transform your life before 8am”, written by Hal Elrod. Of course I had to buy it! The main thought is fairly easy: get up one hour earlier in the morning than you are used to and do things you didn’t think you had time for. In return you make things happen, become a doer, which hopefully transfers into the rest of the day and keeps you energised. Hal decided to squeeze in six different short, energizing activities in his hour: silence/meditation, reading, affirmations, visualisation, journal of gratefulness and exercise. Too good to be true? Well, I decided to give it a shot.
My very own miracle morning
Early December I started my own miracle morning journey. I drew on Hal when I decided on what to do during my miracle mornings and my first version included affirmations/visualisation, meditation, yoga/workout, reading and developing a skill (initially I tried to learn how to play the guitar but I have put that on hold to not annoy my neighbours). Soon enough I felt it became too stressful to fit six activities into one hour and I skipped a few of them to be able to give 15 minutes to each activity. This approach suited me better. Left was:
- Reading. Devoting some time each day to read books I never have time for otherwise. I decided to go for inspiring or happy books, after all it is supposed to be a miracle morning. First out was of course the Miracle morning itself.
- Affirmations. What a positive way to start your morning! The web is full of them. I like the ones I found on chi-nese.com but there are several others.
- Yoga. I have practiced yoga for fifteen years on and off, and always dreamed of practicing it daily, but never succeeded. Kino MacGregor is a Miami based yogi which I have followed for years. She is a very advanced Ashtanga yoga practitioner (I believe she managed to get through the fourth series of five which is quite an achievement) but very good at explaining the basics as well. On her Youtube chanel KinoYoga, I noticed that she had a one month beginner yoga challenge with daily practice which I decided to commit to. I am really surprised that I managed to stick to this new routine but so far I haven’t missed a day. It is probably a combination of me dedicating a specific time for me but also that this yoga program started with only 10-15 minutes practice each day and slowly built it up to longer practice (me being used to 50-90 minutes which could be too much when you first aim for a daily practice).
- Writing. I have talked about writing books for several years and with my new inspiration I signed up for a writing course aimed at writing a first draft in ten weeks. All done in the mornings.
A few weeks later, I feel much happier, more energized and my only problem is how to fit in everything I want to do in my mornings. I have thus started to get up even earlier but I also find myself restructuring my days to fit other activities in as well: lunch walks, taking up running and meditation in the evenings which makes me sleep much better and thus getting more productive in the days. It’s a win-win situation really. What had to give way? Mainly reading e-mails and other activities on the web which I realized were stealing too much time but also the time I spent on work. It is sometimes more effective to take a break than to continue when your brain needs to rest. I finally realised that.
With the new year coming up, I encourage you to create time for your very own miracle morning. It doesn’t matter what you do, but do it! Make it a daily habit to do something important for you for one hour each morning, which will give you more energy during the rest of the day. I wish you the best of luck!
Nina Gustafson is originally from the Stockholm area in Sweden but currently lives in Cambridge in the UK. She is a sociologist by training and works in academia. Her blog posts cover high and low subjects but with a clear focus on the academic life and other joys of life such as cooking/dinners, yoga, travels and much more.