And scientific reasons why to make it a non-negotiable in your morning routine.
Has it ever been confusing how many different lists of “success habits” are out there? Tens of thousands of suggestions, all of them slightly different, right? To implement it all is overwhelming!
Is there one morning habit for success that leaves a more significant impact than any other?
This habit is a habit I have been reading about on and off for 7–8 years. Perhaps you too. But I had never really made it a consistent practice for it to bring results. Until finally, I was sold on the idea.
The habit I am talking about is gratitude.
It is a simple morning habit of writing down 3–5 things that you are grateful for.
For most people, it feels natural to let their minds wander after they wake up. But it is up to each one of us to set ourselves up for success for the day. The first hour is crucial.
If we let our minds wander, they’ll find something to complain or worry about, as most of us are inclined to “negativity bias.” And we get more of what we think about.
We need to set our brain already at the beginning of the day for finding more good things to be thankful for during the day. That is how we can be in charge of our day and our success!
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others.” — Cicero
Why we fall short of practicing gratitude? And what are some specific scientific reasons why to make gratitude a non-negotiable in our morning routines?
Too Many Success-Habits Lists
That has been my case. I am such a personal growth enthusiast, and I get quickly excited about any decent success habits list. I will try to implement all habits that promise me growth and success.
However, when I focus on implementing too many at a time, I do not make any of them a consistent habit.
While getting up early, doing exercises, reading, meditating, etc., is essential, finding things that you are grateful for is one thing that may shape how all the rest of your day goes and feels. And, consequently, your life.
Our brain has the Reticular Activating System, a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information, so the important stuff gets through.
That is why when buying a new thing, you suddenly start to see it almost everywhere.
Setting the Reticular Activating System up in the morning for noticing things to be grateful for will assure that your day is more positive and successful. What you think about the most, you attract. That way, you will have more things to be thankful for.
We need to program ourselves with gratitude each morning.
Gratitude is a very high-level frequency that allows you to attract other high-frequency vibrations — joy, love, abundance, etc.
By setting your Reticular Activating System for gratitude, you are setting your GPS for the day to attract more successful outcomes to be thankful for and what you want to manifest in the long term.
As a coach and The Mindset Mentor podcast host Rob Dial says, “I want to set my GPS every single morning for how I want to feel.”
To attract positive things — joy, love, abundance, success, we need to align our feelings with positive, high-level frequencies.
“Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.” — Jack Canfield
You’re Not Doing It Because You Don’t Believe It Works
Or at least is powerful enough.
Different studies have found that consistently making an effort to be grateful can physically change your brain for the better.
Feelings of gratitude are related to bigger activity in brain areas responsible for interpreting other people’s intentions, predicting the outcomes of actions, and feelings of reward.
Practicing gratitude increases positive expectations of outcomes and intentions of others. And it makes our brain more altruistic — we feel rewarded if other people benefit.
That all increase our happiness, well-being, life satisfaction, motivation, energy, and feeling of purpose and meaning. That, hence, leads to better sleep and health, reduced stress, and less sadness.
Nonetheless, whatever we think about the most, we attract.
In the words of Napoleon Hill, “Remember that your dominating thoughts attract, through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what your thoughts dwell upon.”
To attract good things — success, love, happiness, abundance that you want to feel grateful for, you need to send out such vibrations. If you send out low-frequency vibrations of worry, anxiety, fear, blame, etc., you will attract more. Like attracts like.
“For the most part, I can’t tell you how important it is to take those first five minutes [of the day] and be thankful for life.” — John Paul DeJoria
You Let Your Mind Wander by Default
I have had it many times that I go to sleep without letting go of some negative emotions from the previous day — some worry, fear, and frustration. When I wake up the next day, most likely, I feel the same feelings. The mind starts ruminating again on fear, worry, or disappointment.
That is why I need to focus on finding things to be grateful for consciously.
Unless you have taken the time and effort to discipline your thinking, your mind will wander around.
According to the experiment by The Institute of HeartMath, thinking and feeling anger, fear and frustration caused DNA to change shape according to thoughts and feelings.
Telomeres (the caps at the end of each strand of DNA) responded by tightening up and becoming shorter. Shortening of telomeres is associated with an increased risk of diseases, such as heart diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, and faster aging.
However, as the experiment proved, then the damaging shutdown was reversed by feelings of joy, love, and gratitude.
You can literally impact your health and length of life by continuous practice of gratitude!
Furthermore, as humans, we naturally incline to negativity more. It is the so-called negativity bias. Negativity bias tends to register negative stimuli and dwell on negative stimuli more frequently than positive ones. Most people naturally pay more attention to bad things happening.
Such “negativity bias” is connected with the earlier human history when bad, dangerous, and negative threats indeed were a matter of life or death.
Those who paid more attention to danger were more likely to survive. It is simply the way how our brain is trying to keep us safe.
That is why you need to put effort into making your brain focus on the positive. Otherwise, it automatically pays more attention to the negative.
The good news is that it becomes easier the more you practice it.
According to the neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, it takes 63 days to rewire the brain and build new thoughts and habits.
You need to take your thoughts captive and tell them what to think!
“There are only two ways to live a life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
How to Practice Gratitude
I have found the most convenient having a gratitude journal. It is a notebook where I write three things I am grateful for in the morning, and one of those, I make a longer paragraph. I chose a beautiful notebook, so I am excited about opening it and writing in there.
The important thing is not to make it as a checklist, but truly feel gratitude in your heart when you think and write those things down.
Remember, it takes 63 days to rewire the brain. Already after 21 days, this habit will start to become automatic.
There is no other powerful morning activity that can shape our Reticular Activating System and decrease the “negativity bias” as much as gratitude can.
That means the more you deliberately pay attention to things you are grateful for, the more you notice them, act accordingly, and manifest more positive outcomes.
The practice of gratitude sets the tone for how we will feel and the results, people, situations, and opportunities we will attract.
Because the feeling of gratitude is such a high-level frequency, it is the simplest way how to attract more success in your life.
Whatever success means for you — either more finances, better health, more joy, and happiness or fulfilling relationships.
Feel gratitude for the good things you have. And feel gratitude in advance for the successes you are expecting to happen. That's how you'll get aligned with what is that that you desire.