At this time of year most of us have set resolutions and created goals we wish to achieve in the next 12 months. We write them down and create vision boards around what reaching them will look and feel like, but how much focus do we give to our day to day happiness and emotional wellbeing?
Did you know that your success & happiness (not to mention the quality of your sleep!) can be directly impacted by what you do first thing in the morning and last thing at night? The simple practice of setting intentions for your day when you first wake up, and giving thanks before you go to sleep are so powerful they can quite literally change the way you experience your life.
So why are these simple exercises so effective?
Both the act of setting daily intentions and practising gratitude serve to keep us centred in the “now” rather than allowing our mind to obsess about the past or worry about the future. While goals are necessary, they’re by definition future focused on what we don’t have (yet). Intentions and gratitude are all about creating and appreciating the life we have right now. And this, according to every expert in the field, is the number one key to ongoing happiness.
All you need to implement these two habits is 5 minutes at the beginning and end of your day, and a journal or notebook that lives beside your bed for easy access.
1. Setting your daily intentions
As soon as you wake up (or as soon afterwards as possible) put aside 5 minutes to reflect on the day ahead. Rather than worry about the things you need to achieve - there’s plenty of time for that later - focus on how you want to FEEL today.
Maybe you’ve been feeling lonely or unsupported so your intention might be something like “today I will feel nurtured by and connected to my loved ones”. Perhaps you’ve been letting issues with a colleague effect your emotional state so your intention may be “today I will remember that I control my emotional reactions. I choose peace and tolerance over conflict”.
The only rules to setting intentions are based on how our minds interpret our words. As Louise Hay mentioned in her book You Can Heal Your Life “our subconscious mind has no sense of humour”, meaning it will take our words and thoughts absolutely literally. For this reason it is important to frame your intentions in words that are 100% positive and in the present tense. “I don’t want to feel stressed”… therefore becomes “today I will feel calm and grounded as I easily move through the tasks at hand “
Write down your intentions for the day in your journal. If you have a favourite crystal, you can use this to help stay connected to your intentions during the day (learn more about using crystals for intention setting here
2. Practicing Gratitude
One of the most effective ways to end your day on a high and create a sense of calm and happiness before sleep is to make a habit of reflecting on the things in your life you are grateful for, and the positive things that happened that day.
Shawn Achor, in his groundbreaking Ted Talk “the happy secret to better work”, says the key is writing down THREE things you are grateful for and then describing in detail ONE positive experience you had that day. It sounds to good to be true, but the simple act of focussing on the positive aspects of our lives can completely change our level of happiness and contentment.
From a sleep perspective, this is also a fantastic way to switch your thinking from the ever present (and anxiety inducing) “to-do list” to a more calming, mindful state before bed.
Once you start a regular gratitude practice you will start to realise that even on your “worst” days, there is always something you are grateful for….friends, family, great food, a glorious full moon, freshly washed sheets….the list is always endless.
These 2 simple daily habits truly have the ability to change the way you experience your day to day life and will go a long way to helping you achieve your longer term goals and dreams.
The only thing you need to start implementing this practice right now, is a bedside journal or notebook that will make you want to write in it!! We’re totally in love with the new Life Essentials Collection
by Kikki K. Their 365 Journal (picture above) is the perfect place to record your daily intentions and gratitudes.
The most important thing to remember in all this is to enjoy the process. Have fun with your Intention Setting and Gratitude practice so that it's 10 minutes of "me time" you look forward to every day.