In 2018, I thought waking up every morning was the hardest thing I had to do. I knew that with every sunrise, there would be heart ache, tears, and an unsurmountable feeling of missing my father. What happened after my dad passed away was a critical turning point in my life, and I truly believe it’s because I chose to do five things that, in their simplicity, never could I have imagined they would be so life altering. That was the most transformational year I’ve ever had.
I think my father’s impact on the world really struck me when I watched a grown man, who I had never met before, weep by father’s bed. He told me that without my dad, he would have never turned his life around after prison. It disturbed him to see such an amazing man be subjected to the cruelty of death by cancer. To this day, I don’t even know what it was that my dad did for him, but I could tell that man was as heartbroken as I was to see such a magical person fade from our world.
When I started to see the impact that my dad had on our neighborhood, his community, his friends, and our family, it was like a light had been taken out of everywhere I went. I went down to tell our local cafe staff that my dad was nearing the end, they all mourned. Our local tailor was distraught. Our neighbors never left our side until my dad finally passed. Every day during that period of time was misery.
If I was feeling this way each day, I couldn’t imagine what my sister and mother were feeling. I knew that I couldn’t fall prey to letting the darkness take me, because one of us had to make sure life moved forward.
Waking up every day with a positive attitude when nothing is wrong in your life, is easily taken for granted. You wake up, you do your routine, you get to work. But, during difficult times, it’s easy to forget how to get going. It’s even easy to forget why you need to get going. Hopelessness is a feeling I never want to welcome back into my life again.
At that time, I had been introduced to a TED Talk speaker and author name Shawn Achor. His book the Happiness Advantage really impacted me and my career during the time when my father was being treated for his cancer. It was difficult to balance a lot of things, but his book taught me to look at the world a little differently.
I came to realize that it’s not what life gives you, because trust me there are going to be a lot of lemons, but it’s how you handle what life gives you. Every bad situation can be flipped. Every horrible feeling can be overcome.
And so, I woke up one day on the couch next to my father’s bed. My mom and I spent nights sleeplessly watching him breathe. I stood up and I promised myself that I was going to do these five simple things every single day and that I would not allow our family to go into a depression or fall into problems because of what we went through. I wrote them down and I remembered my dad telling me to “be brave” before he couldn’t speak anymore.
The Five Daily Habits
- Express Gratitude
Each day I write down three things I’m grateful for. This is something Shawn Achor taught and I adopted it right away. Three things no matter how big or small, be grateful. Do this even when you don’t feel like writing anything down, it will totally change the rest of your day.
As previously mentioned, life is going to kick you in the a$$! That’s true for everyone. Some have it worse than others, but guaranteed that if you don’t appreciate every moment, and put a smile on your face each day, then it will only drag you deeper.
- Be Kind
This is one of the most important things I believe anyone can learn to do. Being kind not just to others, but to your self is the greatest way to invite love and happiness into your life, especially in the bad times. If you’ve ever felt the sting of someone who was not kind to you, just think about how others may have received you. Remember, you don’t need the world to be kind to you first or in return. This is a gift you should learn to give everyone. Being kind to yourself includes eating healthy, meditating, doing yoga, and practicing things that make you feel good.
- Remember Your Vision
On page one of my journal, I wrote down my goals for the next 6 months to 5 years. It’s important to really dig deep. Take an hour of undistracted time to really put some thought into these. Make sure write them down on paper, with a pen. This will help you commit. When you’ve written them all down, be sure to reflect on them at least once a week. Just reading them and remembering your reason for them will help you stay on the right path. It will give every action in your day purpose.
- Center Yourself
Each day, I write down my “Thoughts” underneath my gratitudes list. This is my space for letting go of pent up feelings. It’s where I can brainstorm ideas for this blog, or reflect on events that recently happened. As you write down your thoughts, be as equally committed to sharing the good things as the bad things. If you feel it, share it. Sometimes, I like to go back and see what my train of thought was on a specific day. It helps to see where I was in relation to where I am now. I can tell you, it’s helped me to stay committed to decisions that have been important for me to push on in my life. It’s helped me recognize my priorities, my passions, and what I truly want out of life.
Everything you do in the morning is the setup for what will happen the rest of the day. Remember these 5 things, get a journal and just start at it! My favorite journals are Moleskins. You don’t need prompts or anything too fancy. Just write your goals, your gratitudes and your thoughts. Remember to be kind and wake up with a smile.