There is a moment at the beginning of Wayne Dyer’s film “The Shift,” in which he demonstrates how he would wake up each morning at around 3:30 am. Rolling to the side of his bed, placing his feet on the floor, he lifts his gaze slightly, takes in a deep breath, pauses to appreciate the miracle of being alive, and whispers: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
If you’re anything like me, that’s a far cry from how you usually wake up. You, too, might utter phrases and perhaps even invoke the creator, but it’s not in gratitude for another day lived. It’s probably more like:
“Oh God! I hate getting up this early.”
“Oh God! I wish I didn’t have to go to work today.”
“Oh God! I feel like a truck ran over me.”
“Oh God! I don’t want to go to that meeting / teach that class / cook breakfast / etc…”
“Oh God! My back aches / my head hurts / my allergies / etc…”
The writer Ben Okri once said: “Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.” But this happens all the time, not only at night. It happens from the very first moment you wake up. We must always be vigilant about the stories we tell ourselves, and how they alter our world.
What is the first story you tell yourself upon awakening, when you first open your eyes and set your feet on the floor? Is it a story about how much your day is going to suck? Then guess what? Your day is going to suck. You’ve pretty much willed that perception into existence.
But what if you could wake up and tell yourself, instead, a quick little story about what a marvel it is to be granted one more day of life? How would it change the narrative — and how would the narrative change your experience? — if the first thing you articulate in your mind is not a complaint about your day but an expression of gratitude for it?
And when you come home at the end of the day, and you drop your bag and take off your shoes, examine the tone in which you exclaim: “Oh God! What a day!” Are you complaining about it? Or expressing wonder and appreciation for the fact that you were lucky enough to have another one?
Someday soon you will run out of days, and then you will see that each day of your life, beneath the waters of consciousness, the stories you told yourself were, in fact, altering your world. You can’t always alter the circumstances of your life, but you can always alter the story you tell yourself today. Start now.
Say “Thank you.” Say it three times, when you first wake up, before doing anything else. It may feel phony at first. You might even feel like a new age Pollyanna. Try it anyway. And see if that story doesn’t alter your world for the better — just a little bit.
For over 15 years, Dennis has taught meditation, mindfulness and Buddhist studies in classes, workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, private sessions and online. A former monk who lived for two years under the guidance of Pema Chödrön in her monastery in Canada, he is author of the books You Are Buddha (2014) and The Four Reminders: A Simple Buddhist Guide to Living and Dying Without Regret (2017).
Picture credits: Charles Deluvio – unsplash.com