Learn to wake up joyfully

early morning swim
CC BY 2.0 Chris Ford

Fill the first few minutes or hours of your day with an activity that brings you happiness, and suddenly getting out of bed won't feel so hard.

Getting up in the morning would be a lot easier if you were about to do something you loved. For those individuals who say they’re not a morning person, there are ways to make waking up feel a bit less torturous. The key is to tap into what brings you joy.

There has been a lot of talk about joy recently, particularly in light of Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (see TreeHugger review) and her insistence on weeding out all possessions from your life that do not bring you joy.

The same philosophy can be applied to how you spend the first few minutes (or hours) in the morning before going to work – unless work is your personal source of joy, in which case you’re a lucky person indeed. It is important to use that time wisely, mindfully, and happily, since your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.

By creating time and space to do something joyful in the early hours, you can transform the morning from a time to be endured into a time to enjoy and even look forward to. Think outside the box! Be radical and imaginative! Here are some ideas for how to bring joy into your morning. (Some come from this article on Quartz.)

If being calm is your thing…


Take time to be still, to turn your thoughts inward, to calm your body, to prepare for the day. Many creative types say that meditation is key to releasing the ‘flow’ that makes artistic projects much easier, that it increases creative output and results in better ideas. Meditation promotes health, focus, and relaxation. Whatever form you choose to practice, taking a few minutes to sit and prepare for the day will prepare you much better for it than simply jumping into the chaos.


Writing is a wonderful practice for starting the day. Whether it’s a regular journal entry, some bullet-points about the previous day, or a gratitude journal, writing is a way to enter the day slowly, consciously, and purposefully. I’m a big fan of the gratitude journal, which is something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my regular schedule. I write down five things for which I’m grateful each day. On grumpy days, it can be difficult to come up with five points, but it always forces things into perspective in a good way.

If being active is your thing…


Turn up some tunes and get grooving. You can do this in your kitchen OR you can take part in an early morning dance party, fuelled by caffeine rather than alcohol. This is a real thing. Quartz reports:

Morning Gloryville is a group that started staging 6:30 a.m. dance parties in London in 2013 and have since become so popular they’ve spread to more than 20 cities worldwide, from Toronto to Bangalore. The mission of Daybreaker, another transnational group, is ‘coming together to wake up our senses’.”


Get your body moving and your mind will soon wake up too, whether it’s biking, running, doing yoga, or strolling around the block before the rest of the world gets moving. Quartz recommends outdoor swimming and I can vouch for that, having grown up next to a lake into which I’d jump every morning in the summer. Nothing gets one ready for work like a rapid plunge into cool water. It goes beyond the shock; it feels revitalizing and thrilling to swim in the early morning.

If food is your thing…


Set a loaf or pan of dough to rise the night before, or mix up wet and dry ingredients for quick bread. Shape and pop it in the oven as soon as you wake up. Before long the kitchen will fill with an aroma that far outstrips eating a piece of stale toast for breakfast.


Make yourself the best cup of tea or coffee you know how, or teach yourself how to if you don't. Buy the best ingredients you can afford – a fine green tea, some high-end coffee beans, one of these energy-boosting drinks that is not coffee – and savor the entire mugful while waiting for the day to really get started.

Learn to wake up joyfully
Fill the first few minutes or hours of your day with an activity that brings you happiness, and suddenly getting out of bed won't feel so hard.

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