1. Make a gratitude list in your head before your feet touch the floor in the morning.
When you remember ten things you’re grateful for first thing, before worries and stresses start to intrude, you build the foundation for a great day.
2. Have some quiet time with God. A lot of us agree that meditation is a good idea. Not so many of us do it regularly, day after day, and reap its many benefits. I light a little candle on my bedside table when I first get up. When I come back from the bathroom, the candle is a reminder that I’m supposed to meditate, no matter how busy I think I am.
3. Exercise. Your brain is part of your body, and if you’ve had a good workout (cardio, weights, yoga or some other flexibility practice), your attitude will move up several notches and stay there the whole day.
4. Do something nice for somebody. Ideally, we all do all sorts of nice things in a day, but sometimes our own obligations can pile up and we become more self-absorbed than we want to be. It’s helpful to have that ‘good deed of the day’ on the to-do list like any other task, just to be sure it gets done.
5. Give yourself a treat. We can all get so serious. Do something fun. Say yes to the spritz of perfume in the department store. Read People magazine or watch E News if you get a kick out of that. Do something touristy in your own home town.
6. Take care of whatever you may have been putting off. If there’s a job you’ve procrastinated on, or a call you need to make but you haven’t, do that early in the day. Once it’s out of the way, you’ll feel incredibly light and free.
7. But go ahead and procrastinate negativity. In other words, put off until tomorrow the worry, fear, or angry outburst that may seem quite appropriate a the moment. Like recovering alcoholics and addicts who stay away from booze or drugs just one day at a time, you can avoid worry, fear, and anger just for today, the only day you’ve got, and one you’ve already decided is going to be great.
8. Touch something real. We do so much communicating online, and we get so much of our information and entertainment from TV, that we miss out on a lot that’s genuine, tactile, and personal. Thomas Moore wrote in his classic Care of the Soul: “The soul thrives on the particular and the vernacular.” So make a big salad or a pot of soup from all fresh ingredients that you get to wash and peel and chop. Instead of avoiding the snow or rain, put on your boots and go play in it. Meet up for a chat with a real human being. (I write more on this in the essay, “Choose Actual Over Virtual Reality” in my book Creating a Charmed Life.)
9. Instill a little order. You can be having a terrific day, come in to find a post-hurricane-style mess, and lose all composure. We’ve all heard the “order is heaven’s first law.” Of course, this isn’t heaven. Things are going to get messy and dirty and disarrayed. That’s the nature of physical life. Still, instilling a little order somewhere—a drawer, a closet, a counter—can feel heavenly.
10. Stop before you’re exhausted. When we’re having a great day, we tend to push ourselves and use the last scrap of that positive energy. Don’t. Do everything that’s expected of you (and even a little more) at work, at home, and in your relationships, AND THEN STOP. Give yourself some time for rest and reflection. Have enough pep left at bedtime that you’ll floss and use moisturizer. Know that you can spend your day well without ending up “spent” yourself.