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Day 81: The Quiet of the Morning

January 3, 2024

I’m pretty sure I’ve changed my entire life by changing the first hour of my day.

That’s a big statement but, for me, it’s true because it’s my morning routine that helped me switch from being someone at the mercy of my circumstances to being someone who took responsibility for the results I get in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t made me perfect and I haven’t yet successfully created my “dream life”. Progress is slow. Setbacks are many, and I’ve had to repeatedly learn the same lessons. 

But the switch from feeling as though I had no control over how I felt to feeling as though I ALWAYS had a choice has been revelatory.

What does this have to do with joy?

“Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? A thermometer only reflects the temperature of its environment, adjusting to the situation. But a thermostat initiates action to change the temperature in its environment.” Nido R Qubein

Before I had a morning routine, I didn’t realise I was going through life as a thermometer. All I did was reflect my circumstances – if everything went well, I was happy. If things weren’t the way I wanted, I was unhappy.

There are still days or moments where I behave like a thermometer – like I said, some lessons have to be learned more than once – but there’s one key difference now: I know when I’m doing it and that’s enough to break the cycle.

There is nothing less joyful than feeling like you’re being thrown around by you life, like you have no choice but to “suck it up” or “grin and bear it”. From there, the choice to change things and the empowerment to feel as though CAN change things is out of reach.

It was my morning practices that helped me uncover my role as a thermostat in my own life – and maybe my role as compass too.

The two practices that contributed the most to this change were meditation and reading. 

Before having a morning practice, I was unaware of how destructive my thoughts were. I was also unaware that I had a choice about whether to believe and accept my thoughts or let them go. My mind had always been ON and I had never experienced life without the constant flow of traffic and noise in my head. It was there day and night, changing its energy only when things in my life shifted, running incessant commentary about what was “good” or “bad”.

My meditation practice helped me find stillness and realise that a far stronger, safer, and more joyful part of me existed behind the mind – a part that was always there and always accessible but required the flow of mind traffic to break for long enough to cross to the more tranquil side of the road. 

Reading was the practice that allowed me to learn more, ask better questions and make the best use of those breaks in the traffic so I could begin to redesign the roads and direct the traffic more intentionally.

These are the practices that have put me in the position of being able to write this blog as I learn to choose joy. 

Again, I can’t claim to have it all figured out. Sometimes I step into the road and get mowed down by those thoughts that simply won’t stop for anything – but again, the difference is that I know when it’s happening and can usually get myself out of the road safely to wait until they’ve passed, rather than letting them dictate what I think my life is worth.

There is something deeply freeing about having this ability because, for me, it means the choice to connect with joy remains available even when life mows me down. 

For me, just the presence of the choice is enough to spark a little joy and change how I respond in the moment. Some of the time.

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