Many of our battles are won or lost in the first two hours of our day.
How we begin the day often defines how our day will go.
What we run to first often indicates what we value the most.
In his article, Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain, Srinivas Rao states:
The first three hours of your day can dictate how your life turns out. And this often begins with the very first thing that you decide to put in your brain. You can either start your day with junk food for the brain (the internet, distracting apps, etc.) or you can start the day with healthy food for the brain (reading, meditation, journaling, exercising, etc.). When you start the day with junk food for the brain, you put yourself at a self imposed handicap that inhibits your ability to get into the flow and prevents you from doing deep work. When you start the day with health food for your brain, the exact opposite happens.
Rao puts the emphasis on the first three hours of your day. I will go with the first two. You could possibly even lower that to the first thirty minutes or hour of your day depending on your work schedule and circumstances. And busy moms may be glad to take control of the first 3 minutes of their day!
But what captures your attention the moment you begin your day often defines your day. It is like hitting a golf ball. The moment of impact determines the trajectory of the golf ball. A small variance of the club head…or a slightly irregular swing path…will be increasingly manifested as the ball takes flight.
Learning expert Jim Kwik notes:
When you wake up you’re in this theta alpha state and you’re highly suggestible. With every like, comment, or share, you get this dopamine fix and it’s literally rewiring your brain. What your smart device is doing especially if that’s the first thing you grab when you wake up…is rewiring your brain to be distracted.
And Kare Anderson, in her article, What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life, states:
We often fail to realize how what we focus on comes to control our thoughts, our actions, and indeed, our very lives. Whatever we focus upon actually wires our neurons.
In other words, every morning we are training our brain. We are wiring ourselves either to pursue endless distractions or focused attention. We are setting our minds on what is trivial or on what is crucial.
I learned this in my own life.
A year ago, I found myself burnt out…overwhelmed…stressed…distracted. My mind seemed to be going a thousand miles an hour and couldn’t seem to find the brakes…or a break.
I took a 3-week “monk retreat.” No phone. No internet. No TV. No emails. No texts. No distractions.
I began each day reading and meditating on Scripture, going on a prayer walk, exercising, and journaling.
It decluttered my brain.
Maybe even detoxed it…from the endless barrage of daily distractions that can bombard my eyes, beckon for my attention, and bind my mind.
From that point on, I made a commitment to give the first two hours of my day to exercising, walking, reading, meditating, and praying. No running to the smartphone to check emails. No turning on the TV to watch SportsCenter. No checking Facebook to see all the latest posts. No picking up the newspaper to read about all the political controversies, world tragedies, or entertainment enticements of the day.
No early morning junk food for the brain…or the soul.
Have I always succeeded.
Life happens…and some days you find yourself with an unexpected morning interruption…or sleeping in…or checking for an important message…or enjoying a vacation…or just reverting to old habits.
But overall my morning routine has become my new normal.
An early morning prayer walk.
A time of reading and meditating on God’s Word.
Drinking a fruit smoothie.
Sitting and breathing in quietness.
David knew the importance of giving his mornings to God.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. (Psalm 5:3)
So did Jesus.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)
That doesn’t mean that there are not other important hours in the day. Obviously every hour has its own importance. And ending your day well (without long hours of screen time or late night distractions) may be the real key to starting the next day well.
But giving the “firstfruit” of your day to the Lord seems to yield the greatest harvest…and to set your focus right for the rest of the day.
Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love
So that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14)