"Seriously?" I thought to myself sarcastically as I read the morning paper riding the bus to work the other day.
I listened to talk radio on my phone and "Oh, boy" I thought again as I heard a commentator use the word, "uncertainty" about a dozen times. The more I read, listened and absorbed the news, the more anxious and stressed I became.
By the time I walked into work, I had fueled my morning anxiety just enough to turn the rest of the day into an awful one. Surprise, surprise.
As I went through my day, I made a realization:
THE MIND WILL EAT WHATEVER YOU FEED IT.
And I was feeding my mind a Big Mac for breakfast. It looks harmless enough, but you pay for it later in the day.
The real problem with negative, reactive stimuli or what I call "Big Macs" in the morning is that they make us self doubt actions we intend on taking during the day. Instead of moving forward to do something meaningful, the Big Mac drains our momentum and you end up asking yourself, "What's the point?" We feel emotionally crippled due to all the uncertainty we hear or read. Uncertainty in the world economy, uncertainty at work, unpredictability of life, uncertainty in my job, uncertainty in relationships and uncertainty in our life.
I realized that eating "Big Macs" in the morning create unconscious threads of thought that boil up anxiety and stress, adding the salt of our complicated world, creating a stew of paralysis that makes you freeze from all the thinking... that someone else is putting in your head!
I HAVE TO STOP! I said to myself. My morning habits needed improving to help me deal with uncertainty all around. So, I've come up with four things I have started to do each morning to help me be more productive and positive, throughout the day.
4 ways I learned to stop morning anxiety and kickstart a positive day:
1. Stop reading the NEWS... in the morning.
It's become one of those habits that I can't seem to break but increasingly I'm realizing that reading the news in the morning is just not helpful... because it makes me more nervous about all the problems we have in this world. By learning to accept that I'm really not missing anything "NEWSY," I am getting more comfortable with not reading the news in the morning. And while I do accept that I have to remain an informed and well-read, I don't necessarily need to know everything that happens in Greece, the Middle East or anywhere else. Because there's always so much news and frankly, I can't do anything about it anyway!
Listening to all the gossip on Facebook or on the political radio can also be debilitating because you get wrapped up in anger and frustration.
By accepting that you can't solve the world's problems, you begin to start moving forward to do something about your own. Deferring my need to absorb the news to the afternoon, I have started to feel better and am less anxious about the uncertainty around the world and am more focused on the kind of things that are in my control... my own actions.
2. Connect. Laugh. Talk... With Anyone!
Much of my work these days is on emails, texts and Web teleconferences that I miss out on speaking with people face to face. And I've found that the lack of human contact often contributes to my feeling of anxiety and furthers my stress.
What I have started to do is to reach out to a friend or colleague in the morning by sending an email, a text, calling or simply talking with someone even a total stranger. Every now and then, when I'm standing in line at the bus stop in the morning, I try to say something funny to the person in line next to me. It could be something silly as the weather, the football game the night before or asking a question I know the answer to. Even my "coffee guy" gets a, "Hey, how you doin?"
3. Feed the Mind a Positive Story.
Many years ago when I was selling, this was one of the most important things to do because when you're out there selling, you get a lot of rejection. One of the ways to prepare for a job like that, especially if you want to be a great sales person is to feed the mind a positive seed, that you harvest all day long. Back then, I did this by having a sales call with a customer who would always smile and tell me a good story.
Today, I do this by listening to a podcast or an audio book or reading a blog post. Whether it's reading a book of your faith or listening to a podcast, there are lots of positive stories that can make you laugh, give you inspiration and to help you feel positive.
4. Create. Work on my craft.
I started taking index cards in my pocket for each morning's long commute to work. On it, I write an idea or a to do list of the things I need to get done that day. Sometimes I write a thought or a question I want to share with my kids. Often, I find the idea of putting pen to paper almost therapeutic because I'm focusing my thoughts on the here and now and not on tomorrow's uncertainty.
By creating and working on your new ideas for your job, your business, or educating your kids you are allowing the mind to focus on something useful. This healthy seeds start blossoming into other creative thought and moves your mind away from trying to figure out all the problems of life.
Just like the body, the mind needs a good breakfast. Feed it something good or something bad. It's your choice.
I believe that for me to deal with the uncertainty of life, I need to stop feeding my mind "Big Macs" in the morning and start sowing seeds of possiblities.
The idea is to create and focus on what you can do something about -- YOURSELF -- rather than world problems and the big macs. Because ultimately, just like healthy eating habits, healthy mind habits begin from inside each of us and can lead to a new and transformed you!
And while my waistline may not shrink, what grows is the ability of my mind to deal with the uncertainties of life and feel more prepared to embrace the chaos that is inevitable during the rest of the day!