When the buzz of the alarm or our song of choice jolts us into that miserable, groggy, half-wakened state state of mind, often all we can think about is the list of obligations we have throughout the day. Obligations we really don’t want to fulfill. That sound of our day starting – beeping, buzzing, screeching – while we shield ourselves with blankets and pillows, attempting to lay in our warm and comfortable bed, that sound can be equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. But, what if it didn’t have to be like that? What if the sound of waking signified love, creation, and the brightest life one could imagine?
(Image taken from joyamartin.com)
All too often the buzz of our alarm signifies the beginning of a routine that we resent. For young students an alarm means something along the lines of shower, doughnut, cereal and/or coffee, desk and books that we don’t care too much about. Often, we are unsure of why we are “learning” these things at all. For those of us that are a little more experienced and seasoned, the breakfast might be a little better, and we might appreciate the shower and coffee a little more, but most days seem like a drudge to get to places we don’t want to be, and do things we don’t care to do or find unfulfilling.
The problem is that, as we age, we forget that the day is ours! Whether we have a list of a thousand obligations, or none at all, the day is ours to create. The sound of your alarm should signify opportunity, creativity, and chances to give and receive gifts to and from other people. Think of all the time we waste, swatting at the snooze button, wishing we had more time to dream and rest, while a huge amount of our energy is wasted every day just by being anxious or angry about the up and coming events of our life. We lie awake in bed at night, wrestling with ourselves about what we should have done during the day, and dream while we move about in the daytime, thinking about things to come or what we would rather be doing. We need to center our action on what is important to us.
Remember a time when you woke up completely refreshed, ready and willing to start the day, full of energy and vitality. What made you feel that way? What was different about that day compared to the average day? Most likely, there were several things that lead to that bright and vibrant day, that feeling of aliveness.
When the alarm went off, or when you woke up all on your own with excitement, what was the first thing that came to mind? Well, you were grateful that the day had started. There were events – or perhaps no events – happening that day that you were happy to devote your time to. Maybe you were starting a new job, it was someone’s birthday, a wedding, first date or big game. Whatever it was, there was something you were happy about, and you were grateful the day had begun.
Now compare that day to the average day. The days that you are uninspired and uninterested with what is going on in your life. The days you are just going through the motions, not giving and living to the fullest. What’s the difference? The biggest difference was gratitude. Not only were you grateful for the big event, but, perhaps more importantly, it was the small things you were grateful for. Your morning cup of coffee or tea was exquisite, tasteful, and vitalizing! Breakfast was filling, but you didn’t feel sluggish, and sleep was the last thing on your mind. You were ready to seize the day! Gratitude must come first, everyday. Be grateful for the big and the small.
Second to gratitude is having something worth your time in the day or days to come. We must be interested in our life on a consistent basis. When we have nothing to look forward to, and all we see is a long and boring road to death, that is exactly what we experience: a life that is already dead. If you are finding your daily life monotonous, then add some spice or zest to it! Go dancing or find live music. Call an old friend and have a drink. Plan a trip, or go do something you have never done before. Just do something out of your ordinary. If you find yourself bored and feeling lifeless you have no one to blame but yourself. Sure, people can, and should, help each other, but no one can live life for you. How can you sit on your couch or bed all day, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and wonder why you are bored? Move! Go, experience life! Create the opportunity for something new!
(It’s okay to watch How I Met Your Mother reruns…sometimes. I love that show, too. Just don’t get stuck in a rut. Life is about experience, not re-experience.)
The last thing we need to do on a daily basis is take some time to be with ourselves. For years we have been busying around, consuming stimulus from the TV, newspapers or internet, letting other people cram thoughts and ideas into our minds, diluting our own thoughts on the purpose of our life. We need to take more time to power down and simply experience what it means to be a living being. Because living isn’t about money, clothes, reality TV or what other people think of you. Life is something much more, something to be felt, heard, touched, tasted, and experienced.
At the very least, take an hour of your day and make it about you – especially if you have to get up early to do it. Play music, dance, meditate, sing, exercise, do something for yourself. Ideally, find a way to make the first half of your day about you. It does wonders for your psyche. It’s pleasant to wake up knowing you can do whatever you want for a few hours before everybody starts trying to get at you. You find you have not only the capacity, then, to help others, but more importantly, the will and desire as well. Because you have finally taken care of yourself.
Create the day. Don’t wake up and immediately fill the needs of others and continue to all day. We must fill our own needs first, so we have more to give to everyone else. Additionally, seek to experience something different every once in awhile. Give yourself something to work for and look forward to in the near future. Be sincerely grateful for the smallest sensation that lets you know you’re alive, and give heartfelt thanks to the big events and people that have helped you along the way.
When you relax and realize nothing is set in stone, you can see the opportunity, and potential, to create a marvelous life each day.