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Make Today A Good Day    

Make Today A Good Day

BY MEADOWLARK MONAGHAN

Artwork by Brandon Braun

Happiness is a slippery one. 

It feels like, at least for me, it’s easier to notice your happiest moments in hindsight, rather than appreciating them in the now. I’m prone to nostalgia, which means I’m quick to jump to “the good old days” memories. However, recently I’ve been trying to honor and recognize the moments of joy and gratitude in real time. One of these came to me recently in the most bizarre of occasions (for me): during a routine. 

Let me preface by saying, I hate routine. I am not well suited for a 9 to 5 and, thanks to my mother, am more so prone to combativeness. I feel much more creative, inspired, and productive when my day is up to my myself. So, to recognize a true feeling of happiness, in real time, as a result of routine blew my mind. 

I am discovering that my morning routine makes or breaks my day in a drastic way. If I get a morning to myself before “starting” my day, my anxiety is quiet and calm. If I wake up and immediately jump on my phone or computer, the anxious creepy crawlies are subtly making their way up and down my spine for the rest of my waking hours. 

Let me paint you the picture: this past Monday’s morning routine. 

  1. It all starts with a warm drink that isn’t coffee. Although my adoration for coffee is strong, the research tells me it perpetuates anxiety so if I’m going to have it, at least don’t start first thing with it. Recently, I’ve been making a hot cinnamon-lemon-honey concoction, but sometimes it’s an apple cider vinegar kind of morning. 
  2. Meditation is a non-negotiable. Sometimes if I’m starting the day off anxiously and have too much to do, I make myself sit even for 3 minutes. On this particular happiness day, I got in a full 20! Did I mention that besides opening my Headspace app, I have not even entertained the idea of checking my phone’s notifications? 
  3. Light movement to wake me up since I am not a work out in the morning type of gal. Instead, I did a ten minute good morning yoga video with the Bob Ross of yoga. 
  4. Set the mood. For me, it meant putting on a record and lighting some incense. Something about the crinkly, crunchy vinyl noises really spark-joy if you know what I mean. Plus, I grew up with incense burning each and every day, so the smell is pure comfort food for my soul. 
  5. Reward my patience with my well deserved coffee, and read for twenty minutes. Morning reading time is reserved strictly for reading for pleasure or inspiration - absolutely no research or news. I want to start my day inspired. 

So, I do all of these things and I’m sitting in my favorite chair, reading, sipping coffee, with the sounds and smells of comfort and it hits me: this is the happiest morning I have had in a long time. 

What really stood out to me was that it was by myself. I am your classic ENFP, meaning that typically I gain energy and feel rejuvenated after spending time with people I love. This was one of the first instances, a morning just to me, myself, and I… and I felt incredible

Being happy is a very personal thing - and it really has nothing to do with anyone else. 

I’m discovering more and more that for me, the art of happiness is reliant upon my ability to practice being here now (also a fantastic read for any old school hippie). What this quiet Monday morning to myself did was allow me to zone into my present, put away any anticipation of the day, and be in the moment to set the foundation for what kind of day I was going to have. 

I think we have more control over how our days go than we like to believe. Granted, if your chemical imbalance is causing you pain or if you’re in a harmful situation, this may not apply. But, in general, we are not victims to our circumstance. We choose how we see our lives unfold. What this morning routine taught me was that the power to sit in the present and reframe my perspective, helped me to choose happiness. I chose to have a happy day on that Monday morning. 

Sometimes, waking up and choosing to have a good day feels impossible. But, if you can set aside some quiet time to yourself first thing in the morning, to get yourself in the zone, it may become a bit easier. 

In the words of my ever-wise therapist

“Remind yourself that your life is NOW. Right now. What you do with this moment is creating what will happen in the future. The symptom that you will experience when you dwell in the past is depression. The symptom that you will experience when you’re living in the future is anxiety. In order to avoid getting trapped in the past or future is to practice the art of living in the now; the present.” Kim Egel

So, don’t have a good day, make it one.