Written by Austin Harrington
Editing by Sam Warner
Production by April Jane Harrington
Attitude of Gratitude
Let’s gooooo! I want to quickly say thank you for taking the time to be here with me. My goal is to create a community of people growing together, and it starts with sharing the habits and routines that have completely changed my life. Positivity, knowledge, and personal growth is my passion. I will not accept a negative attitude. Limitation is a mentality, not a reality.
If you haven’t read my article on Intermittent Fasting & Fasting, go check it out this second. The morning routine is definitely important, but fasting is an essential human power that society has hidden from us. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle, the way I believe we were intended to live.
The Golden Hours
“The early morning hours have gold in its mouth. Own your morning, elevate your life.”
Its 4:15 in the morning, the alarm clock rings. It may be the most annoying sound in the world. I hit the snooze button immediately and go right back to sleep. As I close my eyes I tell myself I’m never getting out of bed. Three minutes later, another alarm goes off. This somehow is a worse sound than the one before, although I don’t know how that’s possible. This sound is from my cell phone alarm that is outside my bedroom, forcing me to get out of bed and turn it off. As I rise out of bed, I notice my lower back feels stiff and my neck is a little tight from sleeping awkwardly. Makes sense, as I have been hitting the weight room pretty hard recently.
I get to my phone and turn that irritating sound off. I pick up my water bottle that I leave next to my phone, and guzzle down some refreshing H2O. Drinking water first thing in the morning has proven to be essential for my brain and body function. I brush my teeth and put in my contacts – I am now semi-awake. I definitely did not get out of bed because of will power, but instead due to the habit I’ve ingrained. The habit of having an alarm outside of my bedroom forces me to get out of bed in the morning. I really do love to sleep, but once I’m out of bed it is very unlikely I will crawl back in. I have created a life of passion that makes me excited for each day. Once my mind wakes up and I realize I get another day to live out my dream, I am ready to rock; I just need to get out of bed. Setting routines and automated systems have been huge in my life for maintaining good habits. In my experience, if you try to rely on willpower alone you will eventually give in; it’s only a matter of time.
I make my bed, grab my water bottle, and head downstairs for a reflection and gratitude journaling session. This session is mentally refreshing, as I let all my thoughts flow from mind to the paper. Anything and everything in my head go in the journal. There is no filter in this writing, any negative, positive, crazy, excited, or stressful thoughts are written down. I am not trying to please anyone during this session, this time is to release my thoughts and set an intention for the day ahead. It also allows me to understand just how ridiculous some of my anxieties are. It’s relieving to release the stress in my head to some pages of paper, it feels like I’m letting it go. Once I reach nearly a full page of thoughts, I stop and transition to focusing on the day ahead. I will write a couple daily goals in the top left corner to set my intention for the day. They are simple, attainable goals to keep me on the right path. I finish this 20-minute practice with some lines of honest gratitude. This isn’t a couple statements to just say I’m grateful for something, like parents force their kids to do at family dinner, but to express an actual feeling of gratitude. It can be for anything I am specifically thankful for that morning, there are no rules here. The goal is to create the proper mindset for the day. Gratitude is an attitude; it’s a way of life.
I sit in the chair and I still feel my body’s stiffness; I hate that feeling. Yesterday I worked out lower body with some heavier lifts, played 18 holes of golf, and had an 8-hour work shift. A ton of taxing activity bestowed on my body, but man, what an awesome Tuesday it was! I also had a fantastic glass of red wine at the end of the night, which could be another factor in my stiffness, as I did not replenish the dehydrating beverage with two glasses of water. Additionally, I only slept 6 hours. This was not on purpose, as we all know sleep is a healer and natural cure for the body; so vitally important for our health, but there is too much to do and too little time, so 6 hours is all I could manage. The point here is there are many factors contributing to the inflammation and tension I feel, making my next routine extremely vital. I finish my journaling session, refill my water bottle, and grab my massage gun and foam roller. It’s pliability time.
For the next 20-30 minutes I do targeted deep tissue work, a form of myofascial release that will prime my body for the day ahead. Using a vibrating massage gun, as well as a vibrating foam roller, I dig into my entire body, specifically focusing on any muscles that hold extra tension or soreness. This is my favorite part of the morning, as it shifts my body from being tight, stiff, and sluggish to a much more enjoyable state; mobile and flowing. It’s not just about creating hypermobility though; pliability paired with the proper hydration increases blood, oxygen, and lymphatic circulation in the body. This increase in circulation aids in optimizing my brain and cognitive function. Adding pliability to my routine has made my days so much more enjoyable and it’s become a key pillar to my health and wellness approach. I leave this morning session feeling comfortable, and most importantly, the stiffness in my back and neck has disappeared.
It is now time to head to the gym with the continued goal of priming my mind and body for the day ahead. I usually put an audiobook on during the end of my pliability session, which I continue to listen to during my commute to the gym. I try to set out a minimum pocket of 30 minutes each morning for growth. In down times or any free time throughout the day you will generally see me with an Airpod in my ear. I love listening to scientific information, as well as hearing stories and lessons from inspirational people. There is so much free information in the world, please take advantage of it. This 30 minute morning audio period is set aside specifically for growth, as I never know what will take place in my day. As I finish my pre workout warm up, I transition to some pump up jams, and knock out my Jochum strength specialized workout.
Three to four days a week I do resistance or weight training. If it happens to be a non-lifting day, I will still do some sort of 20 minute workout to get my body sweating. I like to shoot some hoops or hop on the bike, anything to get the body moving. I will follow this shorter workout with a 20-30 minute sauna session. Heat therapy is proving to be essential, as new studies continue to support the amazing health benefits. I will dig into all the benefits in a different post, but essentially if you want to maintain muscle mass, produce extra growth hormone, accelerate autophagy, and clean out your system, then get in the sauna. Once I have completed my morning gym session, I shower, change, and finally leave for work, usually at about 7am. My morning routine has been molded to be approximately two and a half hours. That may seem like a ton of time, but it will be the best investment I make all day. I am now pain free, centered, and focused. I am ready for the world. I am going to dominate the day.
Most people in our society go to bed well after the sun has gone down and rise after the sun comes up. Thinking logically, wouldn’t we begin our day as the sun is rising and start to power down when the sun goes down? That’s how our ancestors used to live, so why have we let our society today stray us away from our evolutionary clock? That’s an obvious one; technological advances. Advances in our society and in technology have changed the daily time clocks for us. TVs, video games, and smart phones make it nearly impossible to power down at a decent hour. There are some fascinating studies on how sleep insomnia, and overall mental health, have been dramatically affected by technology and habitual routines. But the conversation of lifestyle and technology is for a different day; just understand that I believe it is time to get back to the basics of life. I know personally I still stay up too late too often, as it’s hard to shut the day down early with entertaining sports games or extra hours of productivity. I do actively try to begin the process of powering down as early as I can. The habit I have adopted of not allowing my phone in the bedroom has been helpful, as my body understands that my bedroom is meant for sleep, not social media or texting. There is so much beauty and enjoyment in this world away from a screen. I believe gaining perspective starts in the quiet hours of the morning. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to get up as the sun rises, because I used to hate it.
My mornings did not always start with a routine, and by no means would someone call me a “morning” person – just ask any of my former roommates. Before the previously mentioned routine, my mornings consisted of finding clothes to wear and a quick tooth brushing before rushing out the door. I used to stay up late watching Netflix, playing video games, and goofing around in bars. I won’t lie to you — I had some fun, I mean I love video games as much as the next guy, but there was no purpose to my days, no real vision. It’s not that I was this totally lost and depressed kid, and that my life was meaningless, I still got some things done. I just didn’t have purpose, fulfillment, and passion behind my days, behind my life. In a sense I was just roaming around trying to be the best I could in my environment, looking for whatever would give me a quick hit of enjoyment that day. I was always talking about how great the future or next move was going to be. I was going to live this amazing life someday in the future. One small problem though, I never took any action to get there. I remember in high school I would always say something along the lines of “next week I am starting that diet plan” or “this summer I am going to workout really hard.” As if I thought it would just happen. It didn’t.
If I have learned anything through my study of top performers, it’s this: habits and small daily changes made consistently over time lead to success. We have to quit planning for a future action. Robin Sharma says it best, “Make each day great, because great days turn into great weeks, great weeks into months, and eventually all those individually great days turn into a beautiful life.” It is easy to look to the future, but the present is the only thing we can control. It would have been so easy for me to jump back into bed and sleep until 7am. It would have felt good in that moment, but the decision to take action and adding automated habits to wake up, gave me two and a half hours of body and mind priming to start my day. Small daily habits really do lead to game changing results.
In my mind if I run this morning routine, I have already won the day, even if I do nothing else. Because even if for the entire rest of the day I accomplish nothing in my career, or do nothing in pursuit of my passions, I still grew as a person. I had mindful thought, hydrated my body, released the tension and stiffness, strengthening my vehicle through weight training, and grew by learning. It’s kind of a double-edged sword, as much as I feel I have accomplished, all this does is prime me for the day. It is just preparation to be battle ready and take on the real world.
Of course im not flawless and always consistent with my routine. Actually i’m far from it, as i’m still growing, experimenting, and working on my discipline. It’s important to not be hard on yourself, or give up if you miss a few days. I can promise you that life will get in the way at times. No big deal, we are pursuing consistent changes over time, not perfection. Plus, you don’t have to rise at 4am. Everyone’s schedule is different. The main principle here is to set aside time in your morning to focus on yourself, before the craziness of our busy lives. On a day off from work, sometimes I will just sleep until my eyes open. This allows my mind and body to fully rest and recover. But you better believe when I hop out of bed it’s time to run my morning ritual. Ideally you run this routine before the sunrise, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s about spending time on you to gain perspective and grow. This is my routine right now, but i’m sure it will be drastically different in 5 years as I continue to develop. Do some experimenting and find what works best for you!
There really is beauty in the morning hours. I promise if you start to rise early, your life will change, your mindset will shift, and your productivity will sky rocket. Owning the morning is the key to my productivity and self-improvement. It is time to start each day by investing in the best product out there; yourself.
Morning Routine Timeline
4:15am – Get the hell out of bed
4:25am – Journal
4:45am – Pliability session
5:10am – Change + Head to gym
5:25am – Quick sauna + Warm up
5:45am – Workout
6:35am – Sauna + Shower + Get ready
7:00am – Leave for work
If you have any questions or thoughts shoot me an email at Harrington@AOGlifeofpassion.com or send me a message on Instagram at @Aharrington8. Seriously feel free to reach out, I enjoy talking life hacks, routines, and habits! I really do appreciate you taking the time to read this. Hopefully you can start to dial in the habits and routines that fit you, but never forget to dance and goof around. Most importantly remember, our world needs more daily heroes, go out there and be one for somebody!