The one morning practice that increases happiness

Research shows that people who are happy and successful have a structure and discipline to their routines that keep them focused and on track. I see this with my executive coaching clients as well. They are all given a tool to track their mindful daily practices. The clients who do so find a clearing in the endless sea of anxiety.

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They begin to step off the treadmill to nowhere as opportunities unfold before them – the same opportunities that were always there yet never noticed. In this space life has more ease. Instead of chasing down expectations and wondering why nothing changes, calmness creates a clearing for a fresh perspective.

The single most important daily practice for shifting chaos to calm is to set a daily intention. An intention is simply a promise to yourself. This is where you set aside a few moments each morning to canvas your thoughts and needs and make a commitment to yourself. It usually starts with “Today I will _________” and should be positive.

How to Set a Daily Intention

  1. Designate time each morning to set your daily intention and a tool to write it down. A good time might be as soon as you get up, before your workout, while you sip your coffee.
  2. Invite in any discomfort or unmet expectations you are feeling. Be as gentle with yourself as you would be with a friend. Don’t turn away; turn toward the discomfort. Name the discomfort. It disarms its power. The meatier the discomfort the meatier the intention will be. 
  3. Ask yourself, “What do I need most at this time?”
  4. Write down what promise you will make to yourself today to bring you what you need in #3.

It is easier to stay positive when you can replace the negative feeling with something positive. Instead of “I will not criticize” you might write “I will appreciate.”

But sometimes you just need to let go of something. Feel free to start there. “Today I am done with __________.” (Negativity. Health complaints. Expectations. Resentment. Fear. Anger. Jealousy. Guilting about the past. Worrying about the future. Thinking I’m not enough. Allowing pain to limit me. Needing affirmations from others. Feeling abandoned. Waiting for things to change.)

Tomorrow you might find something you want to replace the negativity with. “Today I will be __________.” (Positive, Accepting. Open. Curious. Live in the moment. Enough. Notice new sensations beyond pain. Reach out. Listen.)

You are enough just as you are. And you have a lot to do as a creator of your own destiny.

If you want a great tool to track your intentions and mindful practices here is a link to the free Flow-on-the-Go Guide that I give my clients.

Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and corporate CEO who helps busy leaders get off the treadmill to nowhere to be more effective, earn more, be more calm and enjoy connected relationships with the people who matter while it still matters. Watch her FREE Master Class training on Three Things to Transform Your Life and Career Right Now at 

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