An intentional and focused morning is important to me for setting the tone for the day. Over the past few months, I’ve been working on getting my mojo back with my morning routine. This post is about two exercises that I do in the morning titled ‘Today I choose’ and ‘Lord I thank you’. The exercises help me to start the day consciously and positively.
So how did the exercises come about?
“Today I choose to honour my mind. I choose to honour my well-being. I choose to rely on Allah’s plan. I choose to stand in the glory that Allah SWT has gifted me with. I choose to face every challenge with a clear mind and a pure heart. I choose to make every interaction meaningful. I choose to do something meaningful for myself. I choose to be aware of my emotions. I choose to build my relationship with Allah. I choose to live wholeheartedly with a sound heart.”
I hate going through days mindlessly and a couple of months ago I realised I was falling into the habit of waking up, praying, checking my phone, automatically responding to messages, then checking social media, getting ready for uni, responding to messages again and then getting distracted by anything that popped up. I thrive on having a clear direction about what I want my day to be like (hello get to do lists!) and the eventual consequence of the routine above was that I would wake up feeling disconnected right from the morning. My days were filled with doing endless tasks with no clear purpose (in my mind everything was urgent) if anything popped up my focus would immediately shift to that.
I started doing the “Today I choose” exercise because I needed a filter that would help me to start the day consciously. Clearly affirming my priorities loudly helped me to decide what was important and what wasn’t. I recently picked up Jonathan Field’s “How to Live A Good Life” and there was a sentence in the first chapter that really hit me. He wrote, “Someone else’s procrastination or engineered neurosis does not have to be your emergency.” and I thought bam!
Not everything deserves your urgent attention.
“Lord I thank you for waking me up this morning. Lord I thank you for keeping my family safe. Lord I thank you for granting me friends that pray for me and move me closer to you. Lord I thank you for the ease and the difficulties. Lord I thank you for the position that I am in.”
The second exercise above started because I wanted to start/ end my day with a reflection of the blessings I’ve been gifted with. In a life class session with Oprah, Steve Harvey once said, “When you’re not grateful it blocks the rest of your blessings from coming. If you’re complaining so much about the way things are, why would God give you more stuff to be ungrateful for? Thank God for the position that you’re in.” It reminded me of a verse in the Qur’an where Allah SWT says,
“And (remember when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you (in favour)”. [Surah Ibrahim: 7]
Yes there might be things that you are worried about, but the amount of blessings that you have to be grateful for, day after day, outweighs everything else! It is transformative when you start your day with an acknowledgement and a reflection on what you have rather than what you’re lacking. Once you start doing that daily, you will internalise the ayah in the Qur’an where Allah SWT tells us that we could never account for all his favours!
And if you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [Sūrah al-Nahl: 18]
For me, gratitude is the cornerstone of living a life of contentment and happiness. While I don’t necessarily do the ‘Today I choose’ exercise everyday (I do it depending on if I’m going to have a challenging day or when I’m having one), I try to do the gratitude exercise everyday preferably in the morning but sometimes in the evening. The two exercises don’t take longer than three to five minutes and you don’t even have to write it on paper, do it on your phone or wherever is convenient. Definitely try it out and I hope you find it beneficial. Below are extracts from one of my mornings.
“Lord I thank you for waking me up this morning. Lord I thank you for keeping my family safe. Lord I thank you for granting me friends that pray for me and move me closer to you. Lord I thank you for the ease and the difficulties. Lord I thank you for the position that I am in. For the university that I am studying at. For my well being. For my health. For my mind. For my heart. Lord I thank you for not deserting me. Lord I thank you for giving me the tools to face adversity. I thank you for the challenges that I have conquered. I thank you for what is to come that you will help me with. Lord I thank you for the smiles you put on my face. I thank you for the moments of pure joy my heart holds on to. Most importantly, I thank you for the gift of your religion. I thank you for the blessing of always finding solace in your words. Lord I thank you for your love, and your care, and your protection.”
(P.S. I interchange Lord with different names of Allah depending on different things I’m grateful for. Allah SWT has the most beautiful names so use them!)
Lastly I would definitely recommend reading ‘Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod or ‘How to Live A Good Life’ by Jonathan Fields if you’re looking to revitalise your mornings.