Reading the morning routines of famous people can sometimes feel like reading the routines of glamorous aliens living on a different planet. Their morning habits can feel unapproachable to apply to our own unglamorous lives. We may not have the time to meditate for twenty minutes like self-help expert Tim Ferriss does or the stamina to exercise for two hours straight like Goop owner Gwyneth Paltrow does.
That’s why comedian Melissa McCarthy’s morning routine is refreshingly relatable. In a new New York Times profile on her career, writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner details that McCarthy “does not check her email” and “she does not do Transcendental Meditation.”
Instead of following the patterns of a regimented wellness guru, McCarthy wakes up early at 4:30 a.m. in her home and spends the first period of her day doing something completely for herself: she watches fun television, typically choosing an old episode of “Knight Rider” or an episode of “The Incredible Hulk.”
“I treat myself right,” McCarthy said. Afterward, she slowly eases into the rest of her day, catching up on the news and looking at National Geographic photos, but her first task of the day is one for her sole enjoyment.
Why doing something fun first can help you out later
What makes McCarthy’s morning routine radical is that there is no ulterior wellness motive. The act of watching television is not meant to boost brainpower or enhance productivity. She does not play television in the background while doing other tasks. By giving her full attention to a fun activity, McCarthy is choosing her enjoyment first.
Naysayers may think you need to confront your work first so you can enjoy your day later. But science is on McCarthy’s side. One study in Psychological Science found that you do not need to get the hard tasks done first to enjoy the fun activities afterward. Activity order had no impact on enjoyment. These small joys were even found to increase job satisfaction overall. So if you want to start your day on a positive note, start it off with something you can actually look forward to each day.
Learning to enjoy your life is the work of life. For some of us, pilates at dawn may be the most fun we can do in the morning. But as McCarthy suggests, starting your day with an episode of television can be personal motivation too.