I am writing this to you as I’m cuddled up in my cozy bed, with my glass of fresh water next to me and the morning sun shining in through the shutter.
I’m enjoying my morning ritual, consciously starting into this new day. Lately I’ve played with the idea of spending the first two hours of my day playing. That means I only do what feels really good to do. I’ll check my mood to see if I want to take a shower, light some candles, read a book or do yoga. Today I felt a strong urge to write, to let my ideas flow out on paper and see which form they would take.
So as we’ve sat down to have this exchange of ideas, from my fingertips to your computer screen, let me share some thoughts on morning rituals with you.
I have always been intrigued by the idea of having a ritual, a conscious way to start the day. I envisioned it to be blissful stillness, waking up early and slowly setting the tone for the day.
So the day I sat down to create my own morning ritual, my thoughts were full of ideas. There were so many things that felt exciting and I wanted to get all of them into my ritual. I scribbled into my notebook, played around with the order of things et voilà, I had my first morning ritual planned.
It looked a little something like this:
6:30 wake up, get ready
6:45 have breakfast
7:15 do yoga
The next morning, I woke up excited and eager to try out my new ritual. But instead of it being a source of quiet and peace, I started to feel stressed out rather soon. I wanted it to be perfect, and I thought sticking to my self-proclaimed timetable was what perfection looked like. It didn’t feel expanding like I had imagined, it felt rather… constricting.
I tried it a couple more times and felt like a failure each time it didn’t work out. I went back to the drawing board, committed to better my ritual and create the perfect one for myself.
But I couldn’t omit the fact that it made me feel stressed instead of blissful, so after a while, I naturally grew out of it and simply started my days with a breakfast, and immediately went to work afterwards.
Still, I clenched my teeth whenever I read about someone’s perfectly blissful mornings and wished I could have what they had.
Months went by and I forgot about my desire for blissful mornings and rituals. I was getting good at switching into work mode early, and my mornings became my most productive time of the day.
Though this may sound like a success, it didn’t feel like one. I found it hard to switch back into relaxation mode in the afternoon and dragged my work out until the evening. Sometimes it felt as if my workday never ended. I became obsessed with my desire to be productive, to be a hard worker, to prove that I could make this business happen.
Somewhere along the way, I lost my zest for life. Everyday felt like a scheduled to-do list. There was no room for joy, play and spontaneity. There certainly wasn’t much bliss anymore.
Of course I felt it, but I was so caught up in that reality, that it was hard to imagine life to feel any other way.
One evening I told Ev`Yan about my feelings towards my work days, letting her know how exhausted I was. She suggested that I try a morning ritual for the next seven days.
For the next seven days I explored what a morning ritual could look like for me. I made no plans, no timetables, and didn’t put much thought into it at all. I just woke up and did what I felt like doing. On most days that included a short meditation, journaling and some writing. Sometimes I’d want to start working early, some days I wouldn’t.
It was all very free and fluid and helped me get centered before I moved into my day. Waking up I’d ask myself “What would feel really good to do now?” I’d smile as I’d easily come up with an answer, and then spent my first 1-2 hours doing that. Doing so has given me so much of my joy back. I no longer wake up panicking about my to-do list. I wake up excited, knowing that I’m about to take really good care of myself before I enter my work day.
If you are giddy to play around with your own morning ritual, here are some of the lessons I learned while crafting mine:
Over planning is a joy killer. The first time around I tried to perfect my morning ritual, and created an exact plan of how things ought to be. But I am not a robot; hence I can’t expect myself to have the same needs and wants every single day. Plan for fluidity, and leave it at that.
Trust that you’ll know what you need. In a world that’s obsessed with productivity, it seems like we’re our own greatest enemy, lacking willpower and needing to be whipped into shape. That makes it hard to trust ourselves to know what needs to be done, because it seems like putting ourselves in the driver’s seat of how we spend our time can only end in laziness and procrastination.
Yet I’ve found that when I trust myself to know what needs to be done in the moment, and to let my hungers guide me, I get things done and I enjoy myself more. It takes some relearning to trust your own guidance, but it’s possible and comes with more ease than the traditional approach.
Self-care enables us to do the work. Since I’ve started my morning rituals, I’m more focused when I do my work. That’s because through giving myself the luxury of two hours of play in the morning, I’ve learned to value my time more, and forced myself to really focus and get results when I do my work.
If you find yourself waking up dreading your to-do list and drilling yourself for productivity, maybe crafting your own little morning ritual will give you some of your liveliness back.
If you don’t work from home, I get that it might seem ridiculously out of reach to spend the first two hours of your day playing. That’s okay. Nobody said that your unique ritual has to be two hours long for you to feel the effects. If you only have 15 minutes, make it 15 minutes.