If you could spend two minutes each day–out of the roughly one thousand minutes you’re awake–to set yourself up for success* and improve your health along the way, would you do it? (*I define success here not in material terms, but in feeling deeply satisfied.)
I recently came across a simple, yet powerful practice created by Neil Pasricha, a guy who thinks, speaks and writes about intentional living (he’s the author of The Book of Awesome, The Happiness Equation and You Are Awesome).
Neil calls his practice Two Minute Mornings, which is based on science and positive psychology.
I’ve been doing it daily for the past several weeks and am finding it both fun and remarkably effective.
Here’s how it works:
Upon awakening–or, if you’re like me, while you’re sipping your morning coffee–get a pen and paper and answer these three prompts (I write my answers on an index card which I can then carry in my pocket):
1) What I need to let go of:
What stress, worry, anxiety, fear, or resentment do you need to let go of? In other words, what’s rattling around in your little coconut that you need to release for the day?
This is based on a study called “Don’t Look Back in Anger” published in Science Magazine that found if you can eject your anxieties and worries through the power of writing, you actually remove them from your mind.
2) What I’m grateful for:
List 5 different things each day.
The trick is to be specific–and vary it. In other words, avoid simply writing “family, friends, love”, “family, friends, love” every day. Once you get going, it’s amazing how many little and big things there are for which to be grateful.
Why do this?
Being grateful isn’t merely a lovely way to be (though you tend to be the sort of person others prefer to be around, so watch out for that. Ha.), it’s a key ingredient to your physical and psychological health.
A study by Emmons and McCullough in 2003 found that expressing gratitude through writing increased wellbeing and decreased illness among health psychology students over a 10 week period.
If you want to geek out on the science of gratitude, check out this excellent, albeit long, research paper:
The gist of its findings is: by cultivating gratitude in your life, you can increase your mood, lower stress levels, strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, and feel stronger social connection.
Who doesn’t want/need that?
3) One thing I want to focus on:
This idea is based on social psychologist Roy Baumeister’s book Willpower, which has to do with habits, and the intersection of science and behavior.
His premise is, by focusing on one thing, you eliminate overwhelm and make accomplishing that thing possible.
It could be something as simple as: ‘call this one person’, ‘write this one blog’, or ‘schedule this one appointment’. By writing it down, as opposed to merely thinking about it, you’re crystallizing your intention and ensuring it’ll take form (because, um, then you actually do it).
The bonus? You get to experience that delicious feeling of crossing it off your list, proving that you are, indeed, a badass.
That’s it! Two minutes, three things and off you go.
At the end of each day, you’ll feel lighter, more thankful and satisfied, and will have invested in your overall health.
Sound too good to be true? Try it! Spend 2 minutes a day for the next 30 days and watch your physical and psychological health improve.
I want to hear all about it. xo