“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”— Cicero

Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that getting up early results in a happier, more alert, more motivated you.

People report higher levels of positive feelings the earlier they get up. The world’s most successful people are early birds.

I know, I know, your alarm screams at you at some dreadful hour and you start the day off stressed… you can’t wake up ‘til your second or third cup of coffee… and morning just comes way too soon!

If you’re not a morning person, here’s a bit of inspiration from Michelle Obama: “I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work. If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”

Have you ever thought about getting up a little early for YOU?

I’d like to introduce you to an exercise that will change your life and it is a gentle yet transformative change, and you won’t miss out on sleep. In fact, you’ll be even more rested, because this exercise will help minimize stress so you can sleep soundly at night.

Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual. Right away, before doing anything else, go sit in your favourite meditation place, turn on your BetterListen meditation track and practice gratitude.

Why?

Gratitude is the catalyst for happiness, inner peace, joy, creativity and a positive future.

Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California – Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami studies the effects of gratitude. After a short period of time, the group that expressed daily gratitude felt more optimistic and better about their lives – and, not surprisingly, had fewer doctor visits (the mind/body connection)!

Short-term, you feel instantly good when you give heartfelt thanks. Long-term, you rewire your brain. You begin to actively look for the good in situations and people. You feel more positive toward others. You stop taking relationships for granted. You are less stressed just by giving thanks, because your view of the future is more optimistic. You appreciate what you have, instead of believing that something new will (finally) make you happy.

Admittedly, a gratitude practice can seem contrived in the beginning if you’re not used to it.

But like any practice, your mental state of gratitude grows stronger with use and it will start to feel indescribably wonderful when you get used to it!

Get up just 10 minutes early and thank people mentally. Count your blessings. Find the good in a bad situation. Give a prayer of thanksgiving.

Here are some suggestions of what to be thankful for so that you stop focusing on what’s wrong and start appreciating what’s good:

  • Your problems: adversity holds extremely powerful if difficult lessons that require you to admit your own role in the problem and force you to see your shortcomings. But once you do that, you become incredibly empowered. Adversity strengthens you in a way that smooth sailing through life cannot possibly do. Gratitude teaches you that adversity is good for you, as you come out on the other side stronger, wiser and better!
  • Money worries: you might be in debt and struggling to pay the bills, but you still have a computer to read this email; you have a roof over your head and food in your stomach. You have abilities and talents. You have creativity, determination, ingenuity and the immense power of your mind to create your reality.
  • Your commute: it might be long, and in heavy traffic… but you have a job. You have a car that works, or public transportation. You have time to sing, learn a language, listen to music, plan your day or if you’re not driving, read or even meditate. You have a home that is far from work – that helps you physically, mentally and emotionally distance yourself from work so you can enjoy your downtime.

Marketing has convinced people that they can’t be happy unless they have more. If you’re stuck in that mentality – thinking “I will be happy when….” then you are looking for happiness outside yourself instead of within.

When you practice gratitude every day, you’ll see that you can be happy without what you don’t have. It teaches you to feel good about yourself and your life if you don’t have more. Ironically, when you are happy with what you have, you invite more of what is good into your life.

I love getting up and meditating first thing in the morning. It’s my time, before the demands of other people and my animals take my focus outward. Typically I do my long meditation in the morning, and end the day with a gratitude meditation.

If you’re not a morning person, you can use this magical morning time to make the most of your day by starting it off in the best possible way.

Gratitude is best practiced when you’re in a calm and quiet state of mind. Use your meditation audios, as they are the simplest and easiest tools to guide you into the perfect state of mind for getting the most out of your gratitude practice.

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