By Shannon Kaiser
March 9, 2015 7:58 AM EDT
Do you consider yourself a morning person? Studies suggest morning people tend to be happier and even healthier. But you don’t have to be morning person to develop simple habits that can help you have a more balanced and productive day.
When I was stuck in a corporate career and diagnosed with clinical depression, I would dread waking up in the morning. It meant going into a job I hated and suffering through another long day. I realized my unhappiness was part of a choice that was manufactured by my routine and daily habits.
So I studied happy and healthy people and learned what they did. As it turns out, a lot of our happiness can be traced to our habits, which start from the moment we wake up.
Today my life is much different from when I was that sad girl who relied on her snooze button. I’ve developed key morning routines that shifted my entire day, transforming my life.
Waking up can be difficult if you don’t have something to look forward to. If you find yourself feeling stuck in life, it could be as simple as shifting and switching up some of your morning routines.
Here are seven habits practiced by the healthiest and happiest people I know.
1. They speak kindly to themselves
Instead of waking up and thinking negative thoughts about how much they ate the night before or how they failed to meet a goal, or how frustrated they are that they aren’t where they think they should be in life, they simply celebrate where they are with kind and compassionate thoughts.
2. They listen to their bodies
The happiest and healthiest people I know don’t have a strict morning routine, but instead listen to their bodies and let them guide them. Some mornings their bodies may say, “Today, it will feel good to work out early and drink fresh green juice.” While other mornings it may say, “Push snooze one more time.” Instead of feeling guilty for their choices or thinking their morning has to look a certain way, they trust themselves and let their bodies’ needs lead them.
3. They focus on what they want instead of what they don’t want.
Happy people focus on what they want by picturing it in their head and taking steps to achieve it. Instead of wasting precious energy on what isn’t working or what they don’t want, they commit to a better future by imagining what they want.
4. They leave yesterday in the past.
Most people wake up and start to run through a list of the mistakes, mishaps or problems from the day before. This prevents you from fully moving forward into a positive day. Instead, go to bed each night and say to yourself, “For today, I did the best I could and it is enough. Tomorrow, I will do it again.” Then when you wake, you will feel more grounded and balanced to start fresh again.
5. They align with their purpose and higher power.
Connected to a higher power daily. Whether it’s a solid gratitude practice, prayer, meditation, journal writing or focused intent, they connect by giving thanks and aligning with love. Sometimes a higher power is a sense of community orgroup of people with similar interests.
6. They ask themselves key questions.
Starting your day with focused intent will help you be more productive and feel accomplished. Steve Jobs said, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Being strategic with your day will help you live a more fulfilled life.
7. They do what they want to do, not what they have to do.
Healthy and happy people know the most important thing is how they feel, so naturally they don’t do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, nor do they force anything. If things aren’t flowing, they go in a new direction. They allow themselves to be who they are and trust the rhymes of their own life, free of society’s pressure and standards. True happiness can only come when we let ourselves do what feels right for us. Trusting yourself is the best way to reach lasting fulfillment.