It’s hardly breaking news that highly successful people have morning rituals that help them crush it during the rest of their day.
Yet contrary to popular belief not all of them get up at crazy o’clock and put in an hour of meditation, yoga or bare-knuckle fist-fighting to kick-start their productivity.
Time is a scarce resource, and many of the world’s greatest doers maximize it by creating simple, serviceable habits that can be completed in a minute or less.
So if you can’t fit in a 10k run or re-read Tony Robbins’ oeuvre before sunrise, don’t worry. Below are five habits of successful people that will set you up for an outstanding day in fewer minutes than it takes to brush your teeth:
1. Drink a glass of water
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and NextDesk director Dan Lee have both waxed poetic about their morning glass of water. And with good reason: After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, you basically wake up dehydrated every day. And if you don’t address it with a big glass of water, you might roll into the day feeling weak, weary, irritable, or even unwell. So aim for 16 ounces first thing in the morning. It will increase the flow of oxygen to your cells, help your body flush out toxins, and boost your metabolism.
2. Deep Breathing
Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and innovators are known to meditate upon waking. However, for those of us who can’t commit to a regular morning practice, repeating a short relaxation technique such as deep breathing can prove just as powerful.
Deep breathing, also known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ or ‘controlled breathing’, involves taking a deep inhale through the nose for a count of five, holding it for a moment and then slowly exhaling through the mouth on another count of five or more.
This kind of breathing technique triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates the unconscious activities that occur when our body is at rest.
According to the research work of Dr. Herbert Benson, cardiologist, author and the founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, this is a ‘relaxation response’ to counteract our ‘stress response’ to daily challenges.
In prehistoric times this ‘fight or flight’ stress response was handy in helping us survive threats like animal attacks or avalanches. In modern times we’re more likely to invoke it if our coffee’s cold or we have to prepare for a last-minute presentation.
That’s why cultivating a regular deep breathing ritual is helpful. While it won’t make you completely immune to stress (nor should it), it may help you to stop sweating the small stuff and, if practiced on a daily basis, research shows it can lower heart rate and blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system.
A common ritual shared among successful people is the conscious practice of daily gratitude.
Taking one minute every morning to give thanks for your current life has been scientifically proven to improve your emotional and physical wellbeing along with your ability to attract success.
In his book, Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, author and researcher Dr. Robert Emmons shows that happiness levels can be increased by as much as 25% through a conscious ‘attitude of gratitude.’ This, in turn, can positively impact specific areas of your life such as relationships, work and studying, as well as increasing energy levels and lowering stress.
4. Do 30 burpees
Founder and CEO of Spartan Race, Joe De Sena, does 300 burpees every morning. He’s in good company: the Dalai Lama is also known to do burpees as part of his morning exercise routine.
However, you don’t have to start your day with three hundred of these squat thrusts.
As they are a full body workout, taking a minute to carry out thirty at high intensity will get your heart rate up quickly, increasing strength, developing endurance and energizing you for the day ahead.
5. Ask a Relevant Question
In the now famous commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005, Steve Jobs highlighted a major motivational tactic he used to begin his day: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
This quick question asked every morning ensures that you never let your life slip into auto. Sure, you’re going to have crap days, but it’s important for you to understand the passions that lead your life and to consciously commit to rituals supporting them on a daily basis.