Two things drive me insane (1) The first minute and a half of any amateur You Tube video and (2) intros where the author tries to sell you the premise of the article and it is something you already know. If I have to tell you about how important morning is then this site is not for you.
Oh, and weather people telling me to dress warmly. I can afford cable. Let me rephrase, I am successful enough that I can afford cable in Westchester, NY, where the federally regulated price of a postage stamp is three times what it is elsewhere. Not really. Let me rephrase. I can afford cable in Westchester and that means that I have thousands of dollars a year of disposable income to spend on TV. So. (Thousands is not an exaggeration over here, by the way – ask me about Optimum) So if I can afford the cable to watch you I know how to dress myself. There is no more objective news, no one gets their news at 6:00at dinner time (actually no one eats dinner at dinner time), no one reads news in papers, blah blah blah news has changed. HOW COME THE WEATHER REPORTING CAN’T?
Oh, and storm logos. You guys get those? Up here in we-pay-more-so-we-expect-everything-to-be-better-but-it-isn’t-land when any two weather events take place simultaneously, it is a storm. Pick em. Any two. And then, it gets a name (Not the traditional hurricane names, which made sense. Hurricanes and such are events that we recall in later conversations, so they need names. I remember Super Storm Sandy…) – it gets a name that I swear is some staffer’s niece’s middle name (Tropical Storm Zuma) and a LOGO. A lot of thought goes into this. They have to make sure the font relates to the logo of the channel, they have to use alliteration, the color matters, some intern has to do three drafts then hand it off to the art director who thinks silently that the intern is better at this than the art director is, the art director tweaks it so that the intern thinks they aren’t really working for free, and they post this logo during storm coverage. A ton of thought goes into this, then someone gets paid money to make sure that someone else (who, if it is a guy, inevitably wears an ill fitting suit, seriously, never ONE weather person with a suit that fits anymore) spends valuable broadcast seconds, which the advertising team will argue to clients are worth $xxx,000.00 for 30 of them) – valuable broadcast seconds laid over all of this sophisticated work, to tell me the same exact thing Sister Mary Ellen told me in kindergarten. Zip up when it is cold.
So let’s skip the sell on the value of morning routines. Everyone has one.
Oh, and if one more person writes a stupid blog about how successful people get up earlier…
But here is the science on why that could matter to you. I get up at 3:00. Been doing it since I got better (abovereferenced psychotic rant against local weather broadcasts notwithstanding) so that is about 8 years, and it comes naturally to me now. I didn’t know there was science behind why it works if you are managing your mental health but there is. I, and you, have a chronotype. Mine is middle aged ex-beach volleyball players. KIDDING. From the US National Library Of Medicine National Institute Of Health (the word National is in there twice because none of these MD’s can spell check):
Chronotype, or diurnal preference, refers to behavioral manifestations of the endogenous circadian system that governs preferred timing of sleep and wake. As variations in circadian timing and system perturbations are linked to disease development, the fundamental biology of chronotype has received attention for its role in the regulation and dysregulation of sleep and related illnesses.
In other words, some people like me are programmed to get up early, and some people have to work at it. There are theories as to why this is good for you, but that it is good for you is supported by Harvard research. Again, from the US National Library Of Medicine:
Morning diurnal preference is associated with reduced risk of major depressive disorder (MDD); however, causality in this association is uncertain.
So we know that it works, we don’t know why. Like aspirin. The thinking that makes the most sense is that people who get up earlier are exposed to more daylight, daylight is good for everything, and so forth, but either way, any good piece about mornings is going to tell you to try to get up earlier. Not because Bezos does it (he’s been doing a lot, a LOT of partying lately and it has been unfortunately, if not intentionally, photographed) but because science, and me not being on that floor of the hospital where they don’t let you use the elevator both support that it works.
Once up, coffee. When I drank a ton, it was survival. When I stopped drinking a ton I still wanted coffee, so I did what any good Ivy Leaguer does. I went to an accredited University to get confirmation bias on something I was going to do anyway. Johns Hopkins fit the bill, and they provided me with these 9 (seriously, somebody in the coffee lobby has a working expense account… 9!!!) reasons why I should do that.
- I could live longer. The study cites studies (does no one do their own homework anymore) about the reduced risk of the leading causes of death. Wait, I am citing a study. I take back the homework bit.
- My body may process glucose better. I don’t know why they say “may” but I bet it has something to do with the sugar lobby check clearing as well.
- I am less likely to develop heart failure.
- I am less likely to develop Parkinson’s.
- Coffee and caffeine have a protective property for my liver. Talk about win/win.
- I will have stronger DNA strands.
- My odds of getting colon cancer shrink.
- I MAY decrease my risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
- I am not as likely to suffer stroke.
I don’t need to sell you on coffee anymore, right?
For me, the next step is to write three pages, handwritten. I first learned of the practice way before I got sick, in a book called The Artist’s Way.
If you don’t know about this book, it is a permission slip for creatives. Much of it, I dunno about. She talks about going out on a date with your inner artist, that seems unnecessary. She talks about processing the negative voices – that’s important I guess but Buddha does a better job in my opinion. But the one thing she hit upon that really works is the three pages. You do them first thing, with the coffee so that you are helping your colon and your mind. It sounds like hokey if you are not creative but I did it when I was doing corporate turnaround too and this is how it works if you aren’t creating for a living.
You get up, you put the TV on, or a podcast (Rogan has gone way downhill, an Ivy critique of Rogan is forthcoming) or your family, you read, whatever. All data is being input. You drive and you listen while you are driving, again all input. By the time someone at work asks you to do something, your brain has been in input mode for hours, and doing work feels like doing work. The pages start your day with data output and for some reason the rest of the day is more productive and easier. I think it is because you have started the energy in that direction when you were still blurry, and then you get momentum. But that is Burton, not Hopkins or Harvard. But it does work.
The three pages work like this. You hand write them. I do it with a fountain pen because I am a thinking and grounded person with taste and I hold myself to a respectable level of aesthetic and quality, but hey, whatever works. You just write. You don’t format, you don’t worry about the reader because there is no reader. If you don’t have anything to write, just write a word, over and over. Been there, it gets boring fast, but everyone does it. You don’t try to make sense. This isn’t your day job, it is the pages. Sometimes you get amazing insight. Sometimes you get total crap. Sometimes it helps you remember something and sometimes it helps you forget. It doesn’t take long and no one else is going to see it but it does shift your gears.
Pages done, one or two cups of coffee in, now I meditate.
Meditation is another one of those things – yeah we get it, it is good for you, but it is such a pain in the ass. It really is. And I have taught it. And it is still a pain in the ass. I have meditated crazy and I have meditated sane and let me tell you being sane doesn’t make it any easier. My routine is a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 40.
Ok. So before I taught meditation I studied meditation. One time, I did an 8 hour meditation. I did it here, in a very small group. This is the largest Buddha in my hemisphere, if you get a chance you should really come to the temple. It is something to see and to feel. Here’s the site.
Anyway, so my group, it is like 7 of us, are there with a monk, and he does about a half hour before the meditation. Monks are rarely entertaining on a good day, so taking class with one is a meditation in and of itself. The monk then asks us if we are ready to begin. The hardest part about meditating for long periods of time has nothing to do with breath or letting your thoughts pass, it has to do with your hind quarters and back. It is a physical challenge as much as a mental one and learning to manage the pain in a meditative way is part of the meditation. By the end my spine was trying to unzip my back so it could crawl out, my legs had atrophied, and all of us were peeking at the clock and each other. The chime goes off, after 8 hours, and the monk just continues to meditate. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. I will be damned if I get up before the monk. Finally the monk openes his eyes and says, “Oh, I didn’t hear the chime, sorry if I ran over.” And I ended 8 hours of meditating pissed off at a monk.
Meditation doesn’t always work.
Except that it does, over time. For me, it has trained me to not react and to not believe my thoughts too quickly. But I started crazy. For you, it might work like the pages in that it puts your mind in guard rails with a speed limit so that you can still travel but also enjoy travelling. There are physical benefits, too. If you are interested in talking about meditation with an Ivy guy who detests robes, email me.
Tomorrow: the right amount of products for the shower and after (we will NOT be Zoolander) and how to use them, and whether to pick out your clothes the day of or the night before.