“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
These encouraging words sound simple enough but the reality, of course, is that an overtly optimistic life is anything but easy to achieve. Inspired by Emerson’s advice, we came up with nine ways to begin each day serenely and in high spirits—and unencumbered by what happened yesterday.
1. Fake it ‘til you make it
Smile immediately upon waking (and we mean a wide, teeth-baring, cheek-hurting smile). Charles Darwin wrote that “the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it.” In other words, the act of smiling will make you feel happy, which is a great way to start your day.
2. Repeat after you
Say affirmations out loud every day, starting while still in bed. Christiane Northrup, M.D., a leading authority in women’s health and wellness, is a proponent of daily affirmations. “They work along with the Law of Attraction,” she shares on her website. “It’s a subtle but powerful way to receive support from the universe—plus it feels good.”
Here are a few of Dr. Northrup’s favorite affirmations:
I awaken each morning feeling the promise of a new day and a new beginning.
My life is unfolding perfectly, in ways that are enchanting, exciting, and uplifting.
When I say YES to myself and my needs, my energy always increases and I feel wonderful.
3. Savor your rituals
Maybe you really love snuggling with your pooch or sipping that first cup of coffee while the rest of the house is asleep; whatever you enjoy doing in the morning, do it with great gusto, awareness, and appreciation.
4. Tune in to tunes
Turn off the news and turn on some happy tunes instead. A few years ago, the Journal of Positive Psychology published a study revealing that listening to upbeat music improves your mood and boosts your happiness. TECHWIBE’s Top 15 Morning Songs That Can Boost Your Energy include Another Day of Sun (La La Land Cast), Moves Like Jagger (Maroon 5), Best Day of My Life (American Authors), Can’t Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake), and Walking on Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves).
5. Forgive yourself for being human
If you do find yourself cringing at the thought of something you did or said in the past, reframe your internal conversation by acknowledging that you’re human and bound to make mistakes. According to best-selling author Marianne Williamson, “the life of the body is an important classroom”—be a good student and learn from all your experiences.
6. Start sweating
In 2017, Medical News Today published an article citing the results of a study in Brain Plasticity journal, sharing that even a single exercise session increased neuromodulators, “that is, ‘feel good’ chemicals that are naturally produced by the brain when we exercise. These account for the runner’s higher effect and exercise-induced states of euphoria.” Slip into those running sneakers and get to it! Not a runner? Real Simple magazine shared five mood-boosting workouts: yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training, and Tai Chi. Of course, a brisk walk around the block or neighborhood is often enough to elevate your mood.
7. Fuel happy days
What we eat influences how we feel, and Prevention magazine shared two attitude-improving breakfasts: a high-carb option of oatmeal with wheat germ and fat-free milk, whole wheat toast with jam, and orange juice; and a high-protein option of an egg-white omelet with low-fat cheese and spinach, whole wheat toast, and fat-free milk. Depending on your dietary preferences, these two choices may or may not work. Experiment to see what food combinations work best to brighten your mood and your morning.
8. Dress to impress yourself
Ditch the pants that no longer fit and the sweater that’s seen better days, and wear something you love that feels comfy and makes you feel confident. This just happens to be our area of expertise, so here are a few favorite comfy-confident choices: for work, the always-right Eileen Fisher Viscose Jersey Three-Quarter-Sleeve V-Neck Dress or, for the weekend, our indulgent, figure-flattering Cashmere Boatneck Ruana paired with our easy-going Linen & Model U-Neck Swing Tee and sleek DL 1961 Mara Straight Ankle Jeans; accessorize either look with our day-to-dark Positano Convertible Shoulder Bag, elegantly edgy Margo Platform Espadrilles, and the delicately beautiful Kristen Mara Wildflower Necklace.
9. Set out to improve someone else’s day
Hold the door for a stranger. Smile at the people you pass on the street. Pay a compliment to a co-worker. These seemingly small acts of kindness can have a happy ripple effect that extends well beyond your day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson also suggested you “write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” What a lovely thought! We at Garnet Hill wish you the best, today and always.
Kristyn Lak Miller is a freelance Garnet Hill writer based in Portsmouth, NH.