Morning Walks and Life Talks

What’s your morning routine? If you’re like me and most people, you don’t have an actual alarm clock. That probably means the first thing you do when you wake up is reach for your phone to either snooze it or turn the alarm off. This routine may seem pretty harmless but I think it leads to some of the most unproductive time usage of the day. Immediately after I turn the alarm off, my fingers open *insert whatever social media app you use most* and I start scrolling. As much as I tell myself, “Stop! What are you doing? Shouldn’t you go work out?” “Shouldn’t you start your day?” I can’t convince my fingers to stop their incessant scrolling.

The distractions beat me more often than I’d like but Alyssa and I have developed a morning routine that makes the scrolling way less important. We’ve made intentional steps to get a little more out of our mornings and I never want to go back.

Break the Cycle

The first thing we did was buy an actual alarm clock. As much as I wanted the old school alarm clock, we went with digital. Oh well, can’t win em all. The alarm clock helps us keep our phones out of the bedroom. It’s great for getting to sleep because if you don’t have your screen right there, you can’t scroll endlessly instead of getting some sleep. It’s also great for getting up because if you want to play on your phone, you have to physically get up and go get it.

I’ll also admit that I don’t always leave the phone outside the room. I know I’m usually up before Alyssa and I try to read some Medium articles first thing in the morning or peck away at an article I’ve been working on. Even then, I find my fingers wandering to those pesky, time-wasting apps. It’s a constant mental argument with myself to stay focused.

Get Out of Bed

After I’ve spent a little time reading or writing, I go ahead and start boiling some water for coffee.

I never thought I would be the person who gets coffee going as part of my morning routine. Until a few years ago, I would have told you I usually drink coffee a few times a year. I’ve always been really susceptible to caffeine in a bad way. It used to get me all jacked up.

The sounds of the kettle, the grinding of the beans, the pouring of the coffee– they all play their familiar songs. The fresh aroma of the coffee immediately puts a smile on my face. Even the sound of the grinder sparks something in me. The combination of sounds and smells is both uplifting and gratifying.

As the coffee steeps, the next mission is to wake the sleepy bear, known to her family as Alyssa.

I don’t envy the people who need a full 8 hours of sleep. If I had to get the full 8 every night, I feel like I would lose so many hours to dreams instead of life. I like being able to get a solid five or six hours and still get up and conquer the next day.

Alyssa is an eight-hours-a-night kinda person. She would sleep longer (even though she says she wouldn’t). Coffee really helps.

We’re up and we’re moving and Oliver couldn’t be more excited.

Head Outside

Me and Alyssa are lucky enough to have the ability to head out our front door and be met with a nice park to walk around. I’m well aware that this isn’t the case for everyone. However, whether it’s walking the park or walking the blocks or walking around your yard, get some steps in.

You have the option for this time to be all yours or to be shared. For us, we use this time to catch up with each other. We both have very busy lives and there are some days this is our only time together. We talk about yesterday’s ups and downs, we talk about the day to come, we talk about weird, random things–we talk and we walk and it is a daily reminder to nurture the real connections in our lives.

Nurture Your Connections

In a study recently published by Harvard, they spent 80 years studying the lives of several hundred individuals. They analyzed their physical and mental health as well as the relationships they kept. They found that people who were more happy in their relationships lived longer. People who had people they could rely on and trusted fully were the one’s with the most longevity and resilience in life. The research made sure to note that it doesn’t just take a happy-all-the-time relationship. It takes a relationship where there is actual trust, an understanding of long-term companionship, and knowing your partner will be there when things get hard. It is a revelation in our understanding of aging and how to prevent it. You can read about the study here.

The bonds of any relationship need to be nurtured. For me and Alyssa, our walks are similar to super glue for our relationship. Everyone is different, so find what works for you and the people you are close with. Intentionally taking time to have random conversations, reaching out to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, calling your family (I’m terrible at this one). These are all ways you can improve the lives around you as well as your own. I discuss the benefits of these relationships in my article, “With A Little Help From My Friends“.

Less I and More We

In a world where it is easy to get caught up in our own successes, try and find some time to build or rebuild these connections. All the money in the world can’t save you from the inevitability of death. Why not use the time you have here fully connecting with people who care about you? Why not give yourself a break from the social stress of trying to outdo everyone around you. Focus more on the We and less on the I. You’ll not only live longer but you’ll find a more fulfilling and happy life. This world needs more togetherness. Let’s start with the people around us and see how far it can spread.

A version of this post was previously published on GoFindYourHappy and is republished here with permission from author.

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Photo credit: Ric Burnett