How the 'Miracle Morning' Changed So Much More Than How I Start My Day
“Wait, so you’ve already been awake for...” My colleague paused to count on their fingers. “Eleven hours?”
I did some quick maths and confirmed that, yes, I’d been up – not awake – since 4:30am. Voluntarily.
I agreed with them on some level – a month earlier, there’s no way you’d have coaxed me out of bed before my 6:30am alarm. Even that was a stretch most days. But I’d started practicing the Miracle Morning on the recommendation of my then-boss, and my life was changing in ways I wasn’t even sure I fully believed.
How the book The Miracle Morning changed my morning routine
A quick read by American author and motivational speaker Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning: The Not- So-Obvious Secret To Transform Your Life Before 8am was released in 2012. In the years since, its amassed a global online community of early risers who’ll wax lyrical about the transformative powers of the morning routine at every opportunity.
Despite the title, Elrod’s book and affiliated program don’t say or do anything particularly revolutionary. Rather, it condenses best practices from the fields of psychology, mindfulness and wellbeing into an achievable morning routine that, when practiced consistently, can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and increase productivity.
And while it should be said that there’s no such thing as a sure thing where remedies for our mental and physical challenges are concerned, those benefits could open the door to improved relationships, changed perspective, and even professional success.
What is the 'Miracle Morning'?
Elrod’s program is split into five exercises: physical exercise, journaling, meditation, visualisation, and affirmation. See? Nothing you haven’t heard of before.
At first, he recommends committing to just five minutes of each exercise every morning, then increasing the time spent as you find a rhythm. I worked up to that 4:30am start in small ways – upping the amount written in my journal from a few sentences to a page or meditating for a few extra minutes where I could.
Elrod also provides templatised affirmations and visualisations based on broad categories like professional and financial success, self-worth, and confidence. Once you get a feel for the program’s cadence, you can write affirmations specific to your goals and the challenges you face in your day-to- day life.
Having never been a “morning person” (my parents struggled for years to get me out of bed and through the school gates by the time the bell rang for my first class), I could hardly believe I’d begun to look forward to getting out of bed in the dark. I particularly enjoyed journaling and meditating first thing, before my mind became clouded by work frustrations or romantic concerns.
Literally turning over a fresh page every morning allowed me to consider the bigger picture, those minor frustrations and inconveniences typically melting away after a good night’s sleep.
I reaped the benefits at work, despite comparably long days I was pulling. I was focused and more patient, more empathetic towards my colleagues, and more creative in my ideas, probably because work was no longer the first thing I did every day. It started to feel like something I did, not who I was, and – ironically – I became better at it as a result.
I stopped reading into every little exchange I had with friends and family and tried to be fully present in my interactions with them. I certainly wasn’t perfect – there were still times when I mentally responded to messages without actually sending them or promised to make plans that never came to fruition, but on the whole, I was no longer the friend who took every conversation as an opportunity to vent.
The Miracle Morning wasn’t life-changing in the sense that it miraculously solved all my problems. Not even a self-help book written by Oprah herself could achieve that feat. But it did help me develop or reinforce the tools I need to face life’s challenges with a little more clarity and patience.
These days, I don’t treat Elrod’s program as gospel. I’ve stuck with exercising, meditating, and journaling most mornings, though my schedule is much more flexible. I don’t beat myself up if five minutes is all I can manage or I’d rather get some extra shut-eye.
I never quite found a way to make the visualisations and affirmations work for me, but plenty of people have credited their success to these techniques for centuries, so it’s worth giving them a red-hot crack if you’re feeling stuck. It might just change your life.