Pursuit of Calm #18
Want to be good?
Then do good!
You could wake up today and hope you have a good day. You could hope that your choices are good, the traffic is good, the weather is good, your job is good, and that your interactions and how you respond with everyone that you see and meet will be good.
Sadly “goodness” isn’t e-delivered. Picking up our devices and scanning and scrolling our email, newsfeeds, TikTok, Facebook or Instagram doesn’t generally rate very high in the “goodness-factor’. Nor do we absorb ‘good’ as we chow down our breakfast whilst digesting the morning news.
Oddly ‘goodness’ isn’t found in our lack of sleep, or in our hangovers either.
If you want to think good, feel good, and do good (most of the time) – then you need to identify and begin practicing what it is that makes you feel good.
Not only that, but you need to identify and reduce the actions that handicap your ability to think good, feel good, and do good.
Annoyingly ‘feeling good’ requires effort…a ‘good-amount-of-effort’.
Ironically, to feel not-so-good most of the time requires the same amount of effort…go figure.
Every morning we have an opportunity to wake up and automatically recommit-ourselves to existing habitual thinking and doing behaviours that are keeping us anxious, grumpy, ill and undisciplined
Or, we can use the morning to choose to commit ourselves to learn and practice new thinking and doing habits that will improve your health, your outlook and resilience…how goods that?
We have an opportunity, we have a choice, to start each day with a clean slate aka Tabula Rasa
“Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness
ever ready to flow if you will keep digging.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.59
One of the most, if not the most powerful training strategies that I conduct every day is my morning routine. This ‘training regime’ is something that I’ve continued to develop, nurture and continue practice every.single.morning. Not only do I practice it every morning, but I protect it…meaning, I don’t allow anything to hinder my ability ‘not to practice’.
This ‘training regime’ of mine is conducted between the very civilised hours of 3:30am-5:30am, consisting primarily of breathe-work + meditation + reflection + reading / learning + journaling + movement.
My primary goals include:
- (Because I forget) I remind myself of the things that I want to be mindful of.
- To mentally embrace the inevitable reality that I will be challenged today.
- To ‘welcome & accept’ the events outside my control (the challenges) – and notice them when they occur.
- Gently recognise the burdens that I’ll place upon myself (internal narrative, ego etc)
- To practice defaulting to my breath to initiate calm when triggered
- Practice being still & calm. Notice when my mind wanders off.
- To reflect and read content that feeds my mind.
- To spend time with my mentors and teachers
- To continually improved composure throughout the day.
- To test, challenge, and push my mind and body with kind-exertion to improve my steadfastness and resilience.
- To plan & prepare myself for the day ahead.
- To maintain and improve my physical strength and fitness.
This morning routine is something that I have been consistently and enthusiastically curating for over a decade now. It’s a constant ‘practice in progress’, and quite frankly it’s something that I’m never going to stop doing…ever.
As I will outline in a follow up post, the benefits are too great, too profound, and far too exciting…it’s too good.
Reality check…one, two, one two.
Now, it needs to be noted that when this morning routine process was first incubated all those years ago, not only did it last only for about 10 minutes each morning, but boy was it struggle.
Getting up early has never been an issue for me, what I found challenging was ‘conditioning’ myself to consistently repeat new behaviours that not only did I suck at, but at the time, seem to offer me no benefit whatsoever…it was a real chore.
Attempting to meditate, like I’m sure it is for all novices, frustrated me more that placated me. Having a black-belt in fidgeting, I found the simple act of sitting still a form of torture. Whilst ‘journaling’ and ‘doing’ gratitude was a laborious and hollow exercise in disingenuous personal ramblings and faux expressions indebtedness.
Weirdly however I persevered with it…I say weirdly because at the time I had no idea what was stoking my drive.
Why on earth, how on earth did I manage to maintain the momentum to continue?
I now know why…but again…more on that in a follow up post.
So, here I am today. Joyfully and enthusiastically (and quite possibly a bit bonkers) waking up at what most consider the middle of the night, to start my day, by cleaning my slate, and re-etching what it is that I want.
I finished off my last post saying “a disciplined morning breath-work practice will not only allow you to prepare & compose yourself for the day ahead, but also effortlessly default to when we’re invariably triggered through the course of our day…and that’s a superpower!”
I also intimated that this post would be about breathe-work. However after some consideration, and even a little forward planning, which is unusual for me, I have decided to restructure and reformat the next 5-10 future posts so that there is a little continuity to the project. I also wanted to afford myself the opportunity to delve a little deeper into each of the topics that (could) make a morning routine a superpower in your life.
Why is it a superpower?
In two words…”effortless-goodness”.
Till next time…
Next: Prehab or Rehab?
Coming Up: Methods, Strategies & Tools in…
- The 4 ’S’s: Stress, Sleep, Sobriety & [P]Sychology
- Reflection, Reading & Journalling
- Strength Training
- The 4 “C”s: Calm, Courage, Curiosity & Consistency
Current Reading List & References:
Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chödrön
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott
4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Mindsight: Change your brain and your life by Daniel J Siegel MD
Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall
Wherever You Go, There You Are. John Kabat-Zinn
“Start Where You Are” by Pema Chödrön
“Breathe” by James Nestor
“The Places That Scare You” by Pema Chödrön
“In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté
The Shortness Of Life by Seneca
“Lost Connections” by Johann Hari
How To Meditate – Pema Chödrön
The Wisdom of No Escape – Pema Chödrön
‘Breaking Down the Wall of Silence’ – Alice Miller
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Atomic Habits – James Clear
The New Rules For Lifting For Life – Lou Shuler
Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker PhD
Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit Of Less – Greg McKeown
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahnemen
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Resilience Project: Finding Happiness Through Gratitude Empathy & Mindfulness – Hugh Van Cuylenburg
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods – Catherine Shanahan MD
The School of Life – An Emotional Education
The School of Life – How To Think More Effectively
The Consolations Of Philosophy – Alain De Botton
Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief – Jordan B Peterson
The Owners Manual for the Brain: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Mental Performance – Pierce J. Howard
The Daily Stoic / Stillness Is The Key / Ego Is The Enemy / The Obstacle is The Way– Ryan Halliday
Indistractable – How To Control Your Attention & Choose Your Life – Nir Eyal
Mindset – Dr Carol Dweck
The Holy Shit Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in A Minute – James Fell
Stop Playing Safe – Margie Warrell
The Worlds Fittest Book – Ross Edgley
The Art Of Resilience – Ross Edgley
The Oxygen Advantage: Scientific Proven Breathing Techniques To Revolutionise Your Health – Patrick McKeown
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
The Practicing Mind – Develop Focus & Discipline Your Life – Thomas M. Sterner
Mistakes Were Made – Carol Travis & Elliot Aronson
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Life: A Users Manual – Julian Baggini & Antonia Macaro
Good Habits Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick – Wendy Wood
The Madness of Crowds – Douglas Murray
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
Wired To Eat – Robb Wolf
Philosophy For Life, and other dangerous situations – Jules Evans
Peak – Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
The Body, A guide For Occupants – Bill Bryson
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
The written word can easily be mis-interpreted, especially my own god-awful writing ability.
I try to emphasis, as awkwardly as I do, that I have no skills, training nor studies under my belt to advise or diagnose when it comes to medical or psychological conditions.
If you need professional help or advice then please seek it.
My own advocacy is shot primarily through the prism of my own life-experience. I only promote lifestyle and the related choices and habits that optimise sleep, mindset, nutrition and physical strength. All incredibly powerful and profound methods to improve all aspects of one’s own health-wealth, but potentially not the remedy ‘proper’ for those individuals that may require professional clinical diagnosis, medical intervention and/or treatment.