Routine and Security

Every house must have a foundation. If you’re going to build a house of happiness, one of the first steps is the lay down that foundation. We don’t have cement or bricks or rebar to set up in the morning, all we have is the ability to structure our time.

I denied the necessity of a morning routine for a long time, believing that I could wake up late, roll out of bed, and rush to work without giving myself time for me. Let’s be honest, there were a few years when my morning started before dawn most days, and the idea of getting up any earlier than 6:15 was insane. But now that I don’t have to be in at the buttcrack of dawn, I have a little more time to stretch my hypothetical and literal limbs.

So, about a year ago, I took a community ed writing course, and our teacher challenged us to sit down at the page every day and perform the ritual of morning pages: purge our brains for 3 pages without really thinking, first thing in the morning.

I was reluctant, as I am with all change. I didn’t think it would work or be worth my time. But, as I began showing up to the page more and more often, I found that I changed. My day was better, I felt lighter.

Around this same time, I began practicing meditation regularly. This was to combat my kaleidoscope of anxieties. It just seemed right to pair my morning pages and mindfulness meditation.

This pairing plus a little bit of yoga has helped me survive the past year. Of course, there are days when I don’t meditate or I don’t write because of time. But most mornings, I take a half-hour to write, then spend 5-15 minutes stretching or performing yoga asanas, and 10-20 minutes meditating. This foundation has helped me weather a wedding, the last winter (when I always get depressed) and several personal and professional changes.

I don’t expect my morning pages to have any deep insights. I don’t think my yoga will make me skinny. I’m not prepared to visit Nirvana in my meditations. I do have a quieter mind, though. My brain doesn’t spiral out of my grasp as often. And I feel happier.

What do you do to make yourself happier? What are your routines? Anything I can steal or add to my day?

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