At the time of writing this, the world has ground to a slow crawl. I don’t know if anyone expected the coronavirus to affect the United States to the extent that it has. For some reason it seemed like a far and distant reality that was affecting other places. Sure, most of us realized that it would come here to some extent or another. But not to this extent. I was in Orlando, Florida when it started to blow up. I was trying to decide whether or not to leave for Romania on the Wednesday night that President Trump announced a halt to European air travel. I felt a mixture of relief and grief. Relief that I no longer had to make a decision. Grief to have plans, good plans months in the making waylaid.
The first couple of weeks were a roller coaster of emotions. The constant news cycle and images of heroic, but overwhelmed medical workers started to seep into my bones. It became a pattern to click on the google news stream a dozen times a day. Social media scrolling also became habitual. Each morning seemed to set the trajectory for the day and it wasn’t good.
I am thankful for a Zoom Meeting call with Dan Miller, the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love. A week into Covid-19 he graciously invited a small group of people to join he Eagles program as a gift. Something he said in that first call triggered me in a good way. He simply said, “Win the morning, Win the Day.” That one line was worth the whole call.
Win the Morning, Win the Day
Dan sent me two books. I was expecting his book 48 Days… but a second book, The Rudder of the Day was included. The first line of the introduction is a quote from Henry Beecher Ward, “The first hour is the rudder of the day—the Golden Hour.” Wow! I needed that. For me, the first 2-3 hours of the morning sets the trajectory of the rest of my day, but I am a morning person.
Winning in the Morning
It’s quite easy to find articles on the detrimental effects of starting the day with email, social media, and news. You can find a few here, here, and here. All of them seem to say that starting the day in this way leads to stress, mental fatigue, lower levels of optimism, and even depression.
On the other hand, good morning habits can contribute to huge wins all day (and night) long. Recently, I have been resisting the urge to look at the news or spend time on social media until 10:00 am or after. My most productive mornings begin with prayer, scripture, and coffee. Often, I am listening to or reading scripture while I am getting the coffee going.
Habits for Minding Your Mind
I am more intentionally minding my mind. It’s important to think about the kinds of things that bring peace to one’s mind. The Apostle Paul was right when he encouraged us to think well. He wrote the the church in Philippi saying, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Several of Paul’s examples relate to the feeling of gratitude—those things that we are grateful for and bring genuine happiness/wellbeing into life. Paul knew intuitively what positive psychology has been finding. Gratitude has amazing and beneficial effects on the mind. Thinking “about such things” is certain to raise the level of joy and peace in our lives.
So what are you grateful for?
· The smell of the morning coffee
· The laugh of a child or grandchild
· An accomplishment
· A compliment
· A conversation with someone
Try to remember the 100 or the 1000 gifts that are a part of each day. Then say thank you! Say thank you in your spirit (and maybe in person) to the people who have blessed you. Say thank you to God.
Flush What Needs to be Flushed
Without dwelling on and trying too hard to resolve, identify the negative of the previous day. What can you address, ask forgiveness for, seek mercy and grace about, and then move on? If you had misplaced motives, then acknowledge them and get in a good place in your mind.
Review the Last Day and Get Right for the Coming Day
What were the most redemptive things about the previous day? Where did you see love, compassion, encouragement, and care? How can you prepare for good moments on this day? How can you make good moments today?
Be Thankful for the Good Moments
Remember that every day is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to care for others, love, encourage, and create grateful moments for others and yourself. Say thank you to God and others often. Then be on the lookout for how God might use you today. Look for acts of kindness. Be that person, who also seek to bless others.
Win the morning, win the day!