My accident happened when I was five, so by the time I was about eight or nine I hadn’t figured out that 100% of my life was made of what I thought, but I had a pretty good understanding that large parts of it were. One of the first significant victories I achieved with my knowledge and understanding involved waking up for school and setting a tone or trajectory for a day.
Because I was a lucid dreamer I enjoyed going to sleep, so it wasn’t like my parents had to shoe-horn me into bed at night unless there was something important I wanted to stay up for. Very few people naturally get up quickly and early, and I was no exception. My mom would stick her head in the door and announce that it was time to get up and get ready for school. I would lay there agonized for a while until one day I realized that I was experiencing resistance to something inevitable.
That seemed like a foolish thing to do. Every single morning I was volunteering to suffer in exactly the same way. So I started paying attention to my mornings. As I studied them I realised that I would lay there and list all of the reasons I didn’t want to get up. I would say to myself some combination of, I’m still tired, it’s cold, I don’t want to go to that boring geology class, just let me finish the dream I was having… etc. etc. etc.
Since our thoughts generate our feelings, I realized I was constructing suffering when I could just skip all of those thoughts and go straight to the inevitable part—getting up.
The first day I tried it I was thrilled. I was shocked and amazed at how easy it was to get up if I didn’t think all of those agonized, resistant thoughts. Even further than not torturing myself, I realized that if I could stop suffering, I could probably also add appreciation. So I started actually being upbeat in the morning.
I wasn’t a morning person in the sense that I would get up at that time if the clock and school schedule didn’t demand it, but I was no longer identifying myself as not a morning person. I stopped thinking that person’s resisting, unaccepting thoughts.
This got to the point where I began to take great pride in my ability to wake up under almost any conditions and start off with a pretty positive attitude. When I did some serious around the world travelling with friends I was terrible at all kinds of things, but getting up after jet lag was not one of them. Even if I had the physical symptoms of a serious lack of sleep, I could largely avoid having my thoughts battle against the reality of it. If that’s when I had to get up to live my life then I wasn’t going to add complaining within my own consciousness to the process.
This kind of thing can even be contagious. When I dated a woman who hated mornings and didn’t want to get up—especially in winter when there was a bit of chill in the air—I would volunteer to get up when I didn’t have to, just to help her.
Because modern homes where I live have to have a separate line for every tap, it can take a while for the hot water to reach the second floor. I would rise and go start the shower for her, and then while I gently massaged her feet I taught her to focus her consciousness on the shower head because the sound it makes changes pitch when the hot water reaches and expands the metal of sprayer. That caused her to focus on that instead of thinking her own agonized thoughts, so she found it easier to wake up too.
Do you have resistance to what is? Do you battle meaninglessly and repetitively within your own consciousness about things that are inevitable? Because if you do, you have a wonderful opportunity to easily and quickly improve your life. Yes, my accident and my meditation on the act of thinking likely made that change a little easier for me to initiate, but thinking is thinking and our thoughts are our own, so you can absolutely learn to do this too and without much difficulty at all. I have plenty of students who prove that.
It’s a helpful thing to start your days off in a consistently positive fashion. For that reason alone I would encourage you to undertake practising this skill. Because if you’re grumpy and bitchy and negative, then you will notice every little thing you can that is in alignment with that state of mind and that will start your day off poorly for sure. But if you’re feeling fortunate that you don’t feel those things, then you’re much more likely to notice what’s good about the world around you. And noticing those things is ultimately the only method of creating a truly great day.
Your life is constructed from your thinking. Think responsibly. And in doing so, have yourself a beautiful morning. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.