Oftentimes, the stream of negative or anxious thoughts running through our minds starts from the moment we open our eyes in the morning; we're genetically wired to scan for potential dangers in our environments. But according to Geneen Roth, the author of The New York Times best seller Women Food and God, a certain morning ritual can help combat what she calls this "marriage to negativity."
"When I wake up every day, within the first five minutes … I ask myself, What’s not wrong right now? Then I list five things," she said in a recent interview with fellow New York Times best-selling author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, who asked what activity consistently makes her happier. "They could be as simple as, 'I woke up today. It's another day on planet earth! I have eyes to see, ears to hear, a partner sleeping next to me, an irrepressibly silly dog' … and I make sure to not just list those things but to take them in, to feel them, to experience the goodness of them so that I'm not just reciting a checklist."
Roth, who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and more, vehemently believes that "the littlest things make the biggest difference." Her morning ritual is centered around gratitude, which is "strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness," reports Harvard Health. "Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."
Aside from this five-minute morning routine, Roth commits to a few disciplines in an effort to "find structure" and calm her "somewhat chaotic mind," she quips. "I go to bed by 10 p.m., I move my body every day, preferably outside, and I remember, many times a day, to come out of my mind and into my body. To sense my arms and legs, feel my feet on the floor, and to look up and around me. To be, as the Tibetans say, 'like a child, astonished at everything.'"