If you’re the kind of person who tends to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you may have noticed your morning disposition can negatively affect the rest of your day. According to Shawn Achor, a Harvard alumni and renowned happiness researcher—yes, that’s actually a thing—there are ways to train your brain to be more positive. Achor, who wrote The New York Times best seller The Happiness Advantage, believes what we do with our mornings is crucial to giving the brain what he calls a “happiness advantage,” a state of mind in which “your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise.”
The good news is that 23 minutes is all it takes to get your brain in that positive state. Here’s how to do it.
Make a gratitude list. All it takes is two minutes to write down three things that you’re grateful for. Achor says this will train your mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life instead of the negative ones, teaching your brain optimism and improving your success rates.
Devote another two minutes of your morning to documenting a positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours. This will allow your brain to relive the experience—a powerful technique since the brain doesn’t distinguish between visualized and actualized experiences.
Some of the world’s most successful people make a habit of exercising before beginning the work day, and Achor says 15 minutes is all you need. Exercising in the morning is said to teach your brain that your behavior matters, a belief that can have positive reverberations throughout the day.
Similar to exercising, two minutes of meditation allows your brain to focus, which will "raise accuracy rates, improve levels of happiness, and drop stress levels."
Finally, Achor suggests taking two minutes to write a kind text or email to someone you think deserves recognition. This will give the impression that you’re socially connected and a natural born leader, two things Achor says are the foremost predictors of long-term happiness.
Pick up a copy of Shawn Achor's best-selling book, and let us know if you have any morning rituals that really work for you.