What’s the first thought that enters your mind when you wake up in the morning?
Do you look forward to the day ahead, or do you skip the weekdays and only look ahead to the weekend?
Do you think of those pesky tasks on your to-do list and immediately start dreading them?
Do you wake up like a zombie with no thought at all?
Do you wake up with a grumbling stomach, forcing you to think about nothing but breakfast and a coffee for that all-important caffeine hit?
Or, do you feel around blindly for the snooze button to squeeze out another 5 minutes of precious, precious sleep?
Today I woke up with these questions in mind and gave it some thought. How do I approach every day?
In light of a rather severe downturn of enjoyment in my current job, I was forced to step back and purposefully figure out how to still enjoy every day and approach it with a positive mindset. From that, I discovered a few things.
If I only ever looked forward to the more exciting moments in my life, I’d lead a fairly depressing existence. I don’t mean that pessimistically, but if you think about regular facets of your life in terms of how much time they literally consume (sleeping, commuting, working, eating, housework), you’ll quickly learn that the ‘exciting’ stuff actually accounts for a miniscule period of time. For example, going out to dinner with friends on a Saturday night (~3hrs), while highly enjoyable, only accounts for 5% of your week. Spending all week looking forward to that 5% seems like a waste of the other 95%. But enough with the math.
I’ve touched on this in previous posts, but there’s something to be said about focusing on, and enjoying, the typically less-exciting times of your life. I assume that for most of us, life is not bursting with fun, exciting, and interesting events every minute of every day. Which means finding pleasure & satisfaction in those less-exciting moments that would otherwise pass you by, can be an extremely useful thing to do.
I’ll give you an example. If I wake up and think ‘Ah crap, I have to go to work – I really wish I was doing something else’, the problem is I’ve lumped my entire day under the category of work. I’ve labelled it negatively, I’ve imagined it negatively, and the way I approach the day is geared towards writing the whole day off because I have to go to work. It’s not a great mindset to wake up in.
So now I try to approach it differently. My weekday isn’t just work. It’s made up of a large number of smaller moments, and each one I try to enjoy separately. I guess it’s a form of compartmentalisation.
I commute by train most days. I get on the train at 5.50am and sit on it until 7.05am. On the surface I could view it as a pain in the arse. A real hassle, a waste of time, whinge, moan, bitch. But you wouldn’t believe how many great TV shows I’ve caught up on during my commute (looking at you Fargo, Narcos & Better Call Saul). Suddenly I’m not wasting time commuting anymore. My two and half hour daily commute every day is no longer attached to work. Rather, it’s my personal time to indulge in fictional worlds and great drama. Silver lining and all that. And honestly, if I was able to spend that time at home because I lived 5 minutes from my office, instead of commuting, what do you think I’d be doing? Quite possibly watching TV, playing my PS4, and wasting time on my phone. FYI… I find it impossible to sleep in and I’m up at 5 every day anyway.
So when I get to the office in the morning, work has officially started. But, especially now during the winter months, I look forward to a big bowl of hot porridge topped with banana, sultanas, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Delicious! An hour later, I go for a 10 minute walk in the fresh air, stretch my legs, have a rant, and grab a coffee with a work colleague or two. Once I’m back in the office, I sit at my desk and put my headphones on – I can either listen to new music which I’m constantly on the look-out for, or revert to some old favourites, both of which I find enjoyable.
So when I break the day down into different parts, and enjoy & appreciate those smaller moments that no-one would dare call exciting, an otherwise negative experience (work) becomes a smaller part of the day. It’s no longer my whole day. This is something that can be done with nothing more than a little bit of willpower & positivity. Of course, we all have days that are complete shit, and days that are naturally awesome when those larger, more exciting moments do actually come along. But for the majority of the time, when life rolls along at a steady, uneventful pace, how we enjoy life simply comes down to how we approach it.
And that starts when our eyes open each morning.