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Life Makeover for the Year 2011

September 2011 – an excerpt from You Can Create an Exceptional Life

September 1, 2011

Dear Cheryl,

As promised, here’s another excerpt from my book with Louise Hay, You Can Create an Exceptional Life.  I hope it inspires you to think about (and improve) the way you start your day.  It certainly did for me.  In the book, we discuss the specific things you can do to transform your day so you ultimately transform your life.  After all, how you live your day is how you live your life.  Enjoy!

Love,

How You Start Your Day is How You Live Your Day

Cheryl Richardson & Luoise HayI’ve spent the morning walking around Covent Garden in London. It’s an early fall day, and the street performers and artisans are setting up shop preparing for the crowds. I adore London. I love the diversity; the kind and gracious people; and the scrumptious variety of fashion, food, shops, and cafés.

Louise and I are here for an event, and we’re scheduled to meet in the afternoon to continue our work on this book. I’m so looking forward to it. In the short amount of time we’ve been meeting, my life has already been affected in such a positive way. I’m more mindful of my thoughts throughout the day, for instance. And the time it takes for me to catch myself when I start ruminating about something unpleasant is getting shorter and shorter. I’m also weighing my choices, both personal and professional, to see whether or not I’ll feel good once a decision was made. If it doesn’t feel good, no is becoming an automatic response. How wonderful to be growing and learning while writing a book.

When I knock on Louise’s hotel-room door, she greets me with her sparkling blue eyes and a big smile. I feel instantly welcomed. We chat about the morning and then get down to business. I nestle into a spot on the floor in front of the coffee table, tap on the recorder, and begin our session by asking Louise what’s on her mind.

“We must teach people how to begin their day,” she replies with intense determination. “The first hour of the morning is crucial. How you spend it will determine your experience for the rest of your day.”

And we’re off! Louise’s passion is evident, and I laugh out loud as this elegant woman starts the lesson with: “Too many people start their day with ‘Oh, shit! It’s another day and I’ve got to get up, damn it!’ If you have a lousy way of starting your day, you’re not going to have a good day ever-it’s not possible. If you do your best to have the morning be awful, your day will be awful.”

As I listen to her talk, I’m pulled back to my mid-20s and the intimate relationship I had with the snooze button on my alarm clock. Back then it was a game to see how long I could stay in bed before dragging myself out to go to work. I didn’t like my life much, and I certainly didn’t look forward to going to my job.

Now, as I sit with Louise, I think about the millions of men and women who hit the snooze button every day or greet the morning with dread. I wince as I think about the energetic message this sends out into the world: I don’t want to wake up, I hate where I’m going today, or I’d rather go back to sleep than get up and face my crummy life. Thoughts like these just bring people more of the same.

It’s a game changer when you realize that how you start your day sets in motion a pattern of thinking that determines your experiences all day long. Curious to know how Louise started her day, I asked her to share the details.

“I have this little routine I’ve done for years. The moment I wake up, I snuggle my body a little more into my bed, feel the feeling of the bed, and thank it for a really good night’s sleep. I do this for a few minutes as I start my day with positive thoughts. I tell myself things like: This is a good day. This is going to be a really good day. Then I get up, use the bathroom, and thank my body for working well. I spend a little time stretching. I have a bar in the doorway of the bathroom that I hang from-I bring my knees up to my chest three times and then hang from it. I find that hanging in the morning is a very good thing.”

I imagine Louise hanging from a bar in her bathroom doorway, and in my mind I start walking around my house looking for the perfect place to hang a bar, too. The idea sounds like a lot of fun to me.

“After I do a few stretches, I make a cup of tea and take it back to bed. I love my bed. I’ve had the headboard specially built at an angle so I can lean up against it when I read or write. I’ve carried this headboard with me for years. It’s an example of something I’ve done to make my bedroom special and comfortable – a sanctuary. It’s a lovely place to be.”

What else makes your bedroom special?

“That I’m in it,” Louise quickly replies with a wide, childlike grin. As we both laugh, I’m tempted to walk over and pinch the cheek of the little girl I see in those twinkling eyes. But I quickly restrain my own inner child and allow her to continue.

“When I’ve gone back to bed, I then do a bit of spiritual reading. I usually have a few things I’m reading at one time.” I interrupt for a moment to find out what she’s currently enjoying. “Well, I keep my book Heart Thoughts with me because it’s easy to read a few short passages in one sitting. I also have Alan Cohen’s A Deep Breath of Life nearby. And right now I’m rereading Florence Scovel Shinn’s The Game of Life and How to Play It. It’s a very good book. If there’s time after relaxing and reading, I might do a crossword puzzle. I stretch my body and then I stretch my mind. It’s a morning ritual. Then I start to get up.”

Louise’s morning routine sounds like the perfect way to begin the day, and I wonder how much time it takes. “I try to give myself two hours before I face people. I like to be able to do things in a leisurely way,” she tells me. “I’ve learned to take my time. I might sit in bed and think about what I’m going to have for breakfast-something delicious and good for the body, something I would really enjoy.

“If there’s an important activity that I’m going to do that day, I make sure to do a lot of positive affirmations around it, and I always do them in the present tense, as if the situation is already occurring. For example, if I have an interview, I tell myself: I know this is a wonderful interview. It is an easy flow of ideas between myself and the other person. The person is very glad for the information I give them. Everything goes smoothly and effortlessly, and both of us are pleased.

I’m amazed by Louise’s ability to be positive and so upbeat. By now we’ve spent enough time together for me to see that her disposition is consistent. This woman clearly lives in a positive world of her own making. Because this is so unusual, I can’t help but wonder if she ever feels bad. So, as she wraps up the description of her morning ritual, I ask: Do you ever have a bad day, wake up in a bad mood, or feel depressed?

Louise takes her time to consider my question before responding. “Not much anymore,” she finally says. “I’ve been practicing a long time, and I have good habits in place. It’s all about practice.”

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