There’s one mindfulness routine I’ve gotten pretty good at in my years as a writer and coach. Actually, I owe all my success to it: it’s staying in bed. And I’m recommending it for you to make 2018 the most accomplished and inspiring year you’ve ever lived.
“So Dan, how is staying in bed longer supposed to help me do anything besides move back in with my parents and possibly get a bedsore?”
Good question. I guess the easiest explanation is to share the story of how it worked for me. And it begins on my mom’s couch.
Healthy, intelligent, creative—at twenty-three, you’d think I had every advantage…until you saw my list of accomplishments. Aside from guiding my family to safety during an F-5 tornado in Oklahoma circa 2003, I had nothing. In fact, I’d quit or been fired from everything I’d tried. So I woke up on my mom’s couch every morning and wouldn’t move a muscle until I absolutely had to. I was defeated. And every thought in my head was a testament to that defeat:
“I’m such a fuckup. Nothing is going the right way…there’s nothing I could possibly do to make a difference today. What’s the point?”
I leeched through the day in instant-gratification/vampire mode, looking to suck some self-worth out of anything that could give me a lift, expecting someone besides me to make life good again. Facebook was a near constant—as were texts and email checks. And though the little red notifications gave me tiny highs, they fed into the thoughts that had been festering ever since I’d woken up:
“I can’t do anything. I might as well not even try. Nothing’s going to change.”
And nothing did change. Until I started staying in bed longer.
“So really, what’s the deal about staying in bed? Get to the point!”
Alright, alright! Here’s the thing: the time you spend isn’t relevant without first focusing on the quality of that time. Stewing in malignant thoughts for thirty minutes…eh, probably not going to help. But if you lay there like a soldier and endeavor to shift into positive thinking no matter how long it takes or how hard it is, well, then you’re going places. Like I did.
I knew that I had to change my decisions in order to be successful. And from all the research I’d done, I had to change my thoughts first. So I committed to a morning routine that started from the moment I was self-aware:
Eminent self-improvers like Tony Robbins suggest similar focuses each morning—Tony specifically tells you to do each for three minutes. But it takes practice to be able to shift your entire mindset that quick. For me, I started off with about thirty minutes. But I wouldn’t accept myself starting out the day with anything less than a positive and encouraged attitude. I knew that was my key to the life I wanted.
It was a battle.
I had to fight decades of programmed negative perceptions, like, “I’m not good enough”, and, “The world is generally a shitty place.” Many mornings I didn’t think it was even possible to be positive (let alone happy) because I felt like such a pile of excrement. But the more time I spent in bed learning how to fight, choosing positivity despite my feelings, the more often I won my winning attitude. And that’s when I started winning my days.
Getting better at lying in bed
I’d wake up feeling so ungrateful for everything that had gone wrong and so hopeless about all the things I didn’t have. But when I got into the habit of not leaving bed before I was vibrating high enough to light nearby candles with my incandescent energy field—am I joking?—I had the confidence to plan out a successful day and to make good decisions that supported my brightest future.
That’s how I started writing every day. That’s how I got into the habit of planning for all the things I needed to be balanced and successful. That’s how I got onto my first publications. That’s how I got my first freelance gigs. That’s how I won my independence. That’s how I created a full-time coaching business. And that’s how I got off the proverbial couch.
Without that forced-positive mindset, I would never have had the faith hope or confidence to consistently do the things that made life brilliant. Life would have gone on as insipid and unaccomplished as before. It sounds ridiculous, but I really do owe all of my success to staying in bed longer on purpose.
Even though I’m practiced enough to get out of bed before ten minutes or so, there still are days, like today, that I find myself so mired in negative thinking—played too hard last night and didn’t get enough sleep—that I have absolutely zero hope for the kind of day I want. Life might as well be a steaming pile of shit again. But that’s when the battle is most important.
So I lay in bed for almost thirty minutes before facing the world. Many would consider that time a waste. But in that half hour of forcing myself into gratitude and hope, praying for the people I love and things I need, encouraging myself with affirmations, and visualizing all of my accomplishments near and far, I created a mindset so far removed from what I woke up with that I couldn’t have been happier to be alive, to have another chance at making life great—both for myself and others. I’m not even slightly hyperbolizing. Those thirty minutes were what inspired me to write this article for you.
“So what about me? You had Mom and Dad to support you while starting your writing career. But I have a job. I can’t just lie in bed for five hours.”
Yes you can, dear reader. You just have to wake up earlier.
If you want to make every day the best day possible, if you want to make consistently better decisions that bring you happiness, wealth, and vitality, you must start waking up on purpose. Because business-as-usual won’t work. Just like I did, you have to force yourself into a useful mindset that supports your best efforts throughout the day, that gives you confidence, that inspires you to do amazing things.
So start waking up earlier. Give yourself thirty minutes to manufacture a radiant attitude that supports your best decisions and quality of life (which might also involve getting up and exercising first thing, too–more on that in a second). Then stick to it. It might seem impossible sometimes. But the more you practice, the better you know that no amount of negativity is insurmountable—you just have to find (and focus) on the good.
How to reject negativity with an inspired morning routine
No matter how bad you feel, immediately go to gratitude. It’s the first and by far the most important thing you will do.
This morning I was sure the day would amount to nothing, and I was convinced that nothing good had ever happened to me. But when I started thinking about the friends and family who’ve meant so much to me, and without whom I’d be nowhere, I created my first sparks of positivity. Then I started thanking God for all the opportunities He’s created for me to excel at what I love, and for all the people I’ve made a difference to through my coaching, and for my independence, for all the richness in life, and for all the good things that are surely to come through my efforts. The positivity kept compounding! That’s what one spark of gratitude can do.
So keep rubbing your mental flint with gratitude until that spark jumps up—which it always will, given enough time and focus. Then feed that spark with more gratitude, then affirmations, then prayer, and finish off with visualization.
Thank yourself for all your efforts, and tell yourself the positive things you need to hear: I am worthy, I am capable, I am successful, etc. Pray for the things you need to succeed and for the people you love. Then visualize being a gift to the world and the people you want to help most through your talents and accomplishments—visualize the happiness, the feeling of satisfaction, the opportunity, the adventure, the richness of life. Envision yourself giving your best effort today and feeling like a million bucks.
Then get out of bed and pump yourself up in the mirror.
Call yourself sexy. Shout out all the good things you see in yourself, and coach yourself into giving your best effort today. By that time you’ll be so sanguine that nothing could dampen your cheer, and no one could prevent you from making this the best day of your life.
That’s what it takes.
Your ass-kickingly positive mindset is so valuable that it’s worth making some major changes for.
Staying up watching news and Netflix…that might have to go. Instantly checking your texts, emails and social media accounts upon waking…that definitely has to go. Drinking—even just a few drinks—and waking up feeling like ass: you’ll have to sacrifice that too. But for what you give up, you’ll gain back in all the beauty and joy and prosperity that you want from life. That’s what your effort will bring. And that’s why it’s so important to spend more time getting better at lying in bed.
If you really can’t make thirty minutes–who can?–settle for at least ten. Then get your exercise for the day in. And while you’re walking, biking, or running, use that time to build up the positive attitude you need. Some people might even find this easier, since moving your body releases endorphins which support a good mood. In fact, I’ve been opting for a brisk mountain hike many days out of the last week and it’s incredible how quickly it changes my mindset.
Whatever you have to do, find what works. Never settle for less than the ebullient attitude that will bring out your best.