I’m working on getting my morning routine back on track. Since I work from home, it is really easy for me to stay deep in my warm bed until the last possible minute of the morning. I’ve given up on the snooze button altogether and just shut off my alarm the moment it tries to wake me. My children have become my alarm clock. I roll out of bed when the kids start making noise, throw some cereal in front of them and then I spend an obscene amount of time checking every app on my phone. Eventually, I notice the time and start panicking, I throw clothes on myself and the children and we rush out the door. It really is a terrible way to start our mornings.
Last night, I made the decision that I was taking back my morning. I would wake up with an alarm, leave my phone on my nightstand, and start my day with the Bible and prayer, a proper shower, and finish with calmly and peacefully moving the children through their morning routine. It was all planned out in my head and I knew it would be perfect. Except, every single time I get the itch to “have a perfect morning” everything goes wrong. This happens with such great frequency that I created alternate plans last night for how the morning was supposed to go should the usual problems try to hijack my good morning.
Joy doesn’t appear just because you wish it.
And of course, they did. Sometime around the dreary hour of 1:00 in the morning my daughter started crying and whining in her room. I stumbled to her and I really have no idea what her excuse was for not being able to sleep, I don’t think I even listened, I just ordered her to my bed so she could get some snuggles and I could get back to sleep. If you’ve ever tried to squish two grown adults and a wildly wiggly five-year-old in a queen size bed, I’m sure you can imagine how much sleep I got over the next three hours lying sideways in my one inch of bed space. My husband goes to work at an ungodly hour, so he wakes up for the day shortly after 4:00 am. It provided just enough noise and light that my daughter decided she needed to get up for the day at that time too. I spent the next two hours trying to ignore her, hush her, and make her go to sleep. I failed miserably.
And then at exactly 5:59, one minute before my alarm was to go off, she says, “Mommy, it’s 9-5-5! Can we puh-lease get up now?” in her loudest, whiniest voice. Have you ever been woken up one minute before your alarm was set to go off? Logically, I understand that one more minute of sleep would not do me any good, but all I could do in that moment was weep over my one minute of lost sleep. I angrily ordered my little girl out of my room, which of course just made her crumple to the floor and cry. And then, my arm started buzzing, the silent alarm on my Fitbit was officially declaring the start of my day. This was not the perfect, peaceful, happy morning I had planned so well last night and we weren’t even five seconds in.
In that moment, I had a choice. Do I continue to be a bleary-eyed grouch, ruining everyone’s morning? Do I ignore my crying daughter and roll over and try to get more sleep, giving up on my well-planned morning routine? Or, do I choose joy? Do I choose to focus on the good? Do I choose to notice the gifts I’ve been given instead of the trials?
I chose joy. I had a short little self-talk in my head as I lay in my warm covers while my daughter whined on the floor. “I love her. She is amazing and sweet. She is excited to start her day and wants to start it with me. That is a blessing. I am awake, step one of my morning routine is a success. I have not ignored my alarm. The morning is not ruined, but it will be if I don’t get out of this bed and hug her. My sleep last night wasn’t perfect, but it was sufficient and by God’s grace I will have all the energy I need for this day. I choose joy. I choose a good morning. I choose love.”
And with that, I pulled off my covers, grabbed my little girl and held her tight. I breathed in her sweet little girl smell and thanked God for the gift of her. The rest of the morning went reasonably well, we made it to school drop off on time (early actually), and I was able to get started on my work day fully showered, dressed, and with a good attitude.
Joy Happens Because You Choose It
Joy and happiness are feelings, but feelings don’t just happen to us randomly. Feelings are not determined by our circumstances. Feelings are not controlled by some external force. Our feelings are a result of our thoughts. We get to choose how we feel. All day. In every moment. Joy is a choice.
You don’t have to have bad days. Sure, there may be bad circumstances that happen, but your reaction to those circumstances is what determines the result of your day. You can choose to fix your thoughts on the negative aspect of things, you can choose to dwell on your misfortunes and struggles. Or you can choose to focus on the good. You can decide to think about opportunities, hopes, blessings, gifts, and second chances. You can let your thoughts dwell on things that are right, lovely, and admirable in even the darkest of circumstances. There is always something good to be found, and when you find it, let your thoughts think on that good, because then you will begin to feel joy.
Choose joy. Choose the good. Choose to see the light. Joy will never find you. You aren’t going to stumble into happiness and it can’t be attained by striving.
The only way to find real joy and happiness is simply to choose it.
Today’s Action Step
Stop your day for a minute. Think about the thoughts that have been running around in your head. Notice how they are making you feel. Happy? Frustrated? Angry? Sad? Blah? If you don’t like the feelings you are feeling, pick a new thing to think. Think a thought that will lead to the feeling you wish to have. It is that simple. And that hard.
All of Brooke Castillo’s podcasts are amazing, but check out this one on What Prevents Joy to start.