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  • Dr. Lalit Chawla

E#10: Best Morning Routine for Work, Play & Every day!


In this episode I talk about the one thing that will change your Energy, Your Mood and the Way you show up in all areas of your life. This is the most important thing you can do to be your best self. Nothing means more than how you start your day.

Start Right, End Right!

(This is the core of the transcript from the podcast. The Intro has been removed and some areas improved for reading ease.)


Hi, I hope you are fantastic! I’m Dr. Lalit Chawla, and today I want to share with you something that changed my life about 4-5 years ago.

I used to get teased a lot by my wife and kids for not being much of a morning person. And they were absolutely right. I used to wake up very tired, not energized and struggled to get through the first couple of hours in the morning.


I’m typically not a morning person, I tend to stay up at night and tend to work late, read a book or work on some other creative projects. Now there have been times I have gotten up early to do some creative work because I do love the stillness of the morning, but if you look at my pattern overall, I tend to stay up later in the evening. The downside of staying up too late is that I would cut myself short of the 7.5-8 hours of sleep that I really need to be fully rested.


And so when I would wake up in the morning, I was feeling tired and slow. My kids would say, “boy Dad is certainly not a morning person, is he?”

My kids would say"Boy Dad is certainly not a morning person, is he?"

In the mornings, I would hit the snooze on my alarm, and then eventually scroll through emails, and then wake up using every ounce of energy to get to the washroom and brush my teeth. I would then shower, get ready and then begin the day by eating breakfast and slowly over the next hour or so, I would start to feel more alive.

But the reality was I wasn’t as energized and focused as much as I could have been. And subconsciously I knew that I could be better and more present with people and sharper for a more extended time during the day.


I knew that I couldn’t continue the way I was going.

In the mornings, I would hit the snooze on my alarm, and then eventually scroll through emails, and then wake up using every ounce of energy to get to the washroom and brush my teeth. I would then shower, get ready and then begin the day by eating breakfast and slowly over the next hour or so, I would start to feel more alive.

But the reality was I wasn’t as energized and focused as much as I could have been. And subconsciously I knew that I could be better and more present with people and sharper for a more extended time during the day.

I knew that I couldn’t continue the way I was going. My energy reserves were not what they used to be and I was getting older. I also knew I wasn’t getting the greatest joy from the mornings and that I was missing out. I knew I needed to create a better way to start the day.


physicians have often asked me; "Is there one thing that I could do to change the quality of my effectiveness in my day-to-day operations?"

Additionally, other physicians have often asked me; “Is there one thing that I could do to change the quality of my effectiveness in my day-to-day operations?”

My answer is to create a customized empowering morning routine. If you win the 1st hour or even the first 30 minutes of your day, you win the entire day. Also a little known fact that is not well understood is that the power of creating a customized morning routine is the key to success in everything that a person does. You start right, and you move right then you will end right.


The world’s most successful people from all walks of life, from CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, to elite athletes, to successful academics and to the best parents, have an empowering morning routine. Starting the day right allows you to handle things better. There are ways to create a custom routine that is highly effective and fits you perfectly. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, but certain truths should be incorporated.


I’m going to share with you the morning routine I use to get charged for the day. Then I’ll discuss some essential tips and suggestions for things you can try to customize your own morning routine. By the way, I have shared this process with my own patients and encouraged them to try this for themselves so they can leverage their day.

When I first started to create a morning routine, I wanted to make sure I set myself up for success. The mere thought of doing an hour of meditation, yoga, journaling or something similar was too daunting, so I started small. I wanted to make sure that I could at least maintain the habit for a short time and establish a new pattern. I suggest this to my patients as well. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Most people quit before they can establish a new routine simply because it’s too much for them. They have taken on too much at once. They don’t establish a new pattern and establishing a new pattern is the key to success.

People typically don’t celebrate the small victories they get along the path to change or when they are trying to implement a new habit. Disappointments happen when you focus on long term results without celebrating short term triumphs.


I began small, with one minute of constant daily routine. Gradually, over several months, that one minute grew into 30 minutes every morning.


The first thing I do when I wake up is, I take a big drink of water. I’ve place the glass of water on my nightstand the night before. As soon as I open my eyes, I take ten nice deep breaths which equals to about a minute. While I do that I’m also thanking God and the universe for the day ahead. I’m grateful simply for being able to have the opportunity to do the things I get to do during the day. When I first started this routine, this is all I did for at least three months — just one minute.

Disappointments happen when you focus on long term results without celebrating short term triumphs

Next, I brush my teeth and while I’m brushing my teeth, I think about the exciting things that I did yesterday that were enjoyable and rewarding; about something or someone who made me laugh. While I’m in the bathroom I stretch my hamstrings as putting my one leg on the bathtub to stretch it and to get the blood flowing, and then after a minute, I switch to the other leg.


Following that, I go back to our bedroom and make our bed. (That is if my wife hasn’t done it already.) I take a little pride in making sure that things are reasonably tidy. I do it quickly, and I have accepted the necessity of the decorative pillows that my wife likes so much. Completing this task sets my mind in the proper motion by completing a small useful task.


Now, I lie down on the carpet, and I do some basic stretching. I learned some yoga by attending a few classes in the past. I have a whole routine of stretches using my quads, hamstrings, hip muscles, and back. Then I do some deep breathing and meditation by sitting in silence and focusing on my breath. Creating a meditation practice and appreciating the silence is wonderfully energizing. There are now apps that can help - I’m told ‘Headspace’ is useful or ‘Calm’ is a great app that helps as well.


Following this, I have a gratitude routine that I use. There has been so much research done on the science of gratitude and how it improves a person’s health both mentally and physically.


People who are grateful find solutions to difficult situations handle stress better and have healthier relationships. When you are in a grateful state, you see the good you have in your life. It doesn’t mean you are naive or ignorant about the world you live in, but you are in a better mindset to be proactive rather than reactive.


I start by thinking about all the things that I’m grateful for. First I start off with my health. I think about each breathe that I can take and focus on them. I’m thankful for how my heart, lungs, the body allows me to function.


Then I extend my thoughts to my family and friends and how grateful I am for them. I think about each of them individually and hold them dear in my mind. I’ll also focus on a new person, friend or patient that’s struggling and think about them, and send them good wishes and thoughts.

Note: It is essential to vary your gratitude routine, because it can become so routine to the point that you simply repeat the words without thinking about them or internalizing them. So I’ll be grateful for old relationships, good and bad, and how they served me. I will meditate on what I learned from those relationships; even from those who didn’t have my best interests at heart.


I’ll thank my parents and grandmother for their presence when they were alive. Then I’ll extend it out further and thank God and the universe and that I have a home; that I live in a great country and that I have the opportunities that I can contribute to others. I am thankful for the resources I have and my ability to share with others. I’m grateful for the fun stuff that I get to do; like coach my son’s soccer team; go for evening walks with my daughter; talk to my neighbors and so on.


Then I will focus on something particular that is real and tangible. Mainly I think of a specific tree that we have in our yard and how beautiful it is. Visualizing that tree connects me to nature and I feel a sense of joyful peace. Thinking of something tangible is a good place for ending your gratitude routine, no matter what it is. Make it something personal or special to you in some way; like the glass you drink from, or the shoes you have on, or a special item that makes you smile, because all those items contribute to your life. When people are grateful, they are more resilient.

People who are grateful find solutions to difficult situations handle stress better and have healthier relationships.

After that, I go jump in the shower and while I’m there I ask myself two questions:


1. What can I be excited about today?

Initially, when I started this exercise, it wasn’t always easy to think of what I could be excited about, but I found things that I could be grateful for. Plus once your brain thinks of a question, it will work on that question to find an answer.


2. Is there someone in particular that I can extend an act of kindness to, or try to make them laugh?


Research has shown that kinder people were happier people. Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky found that people who commit five or more acts of intentional kindness feel happier for many days after they’ve committed it. So, for example, I’ll pay for a person’s coffee when I’m in a drive-through. Or I’ll perform some other gestures, like send a funny text or send a word of appreciation etc. Kindness has tremendous health benefits.


During my whole morning ritual I try to drink a lot of water to keep hydrated. In fact, my goal is to drink 1 to 1.5 liters of water before I even make it to the breakfast table.

After I’m dressed, I will spend one to two minutes in my journal writing out what I am grateful for and thinking about any opportunities that I can create. The simple act of writing it down increases your mood. One study showed that people were much happier at one month, three months and six month follow up.1


The simple act of writing things down changes the way an individual processes their thoughts which translates into healthier behaviors. So for example, today I was grateful that I didn’t eat a sugary dessert last night and had fruit. It doesn’t have to be big. That is essentially it. On occasion I won’t get to the journal, but I don’t worry about it too much. As long as I get to it a few times a week.


Research has shown that kinder people were happier people. Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky found that people who commit five or more acts of intentional kindness feel happier for many days after they’ve committed it.

There are some additional key points I’d like to share with you:


Prepare the night before - Life is all about the patterns we set up in our lives, so set up empowering ones. If you don’t choose your patterns, the world will choose it for you, so you might as well set patterns that keep you moving into your best life at work, home and play.


Sleep 8hrs. - If you can’t always do this, you should commit to as many days as possible through the week. Make sure you aren’t becoming sleep deprived. Sleep is vital for the body to repair itself and re-calibrate. Really successful people sleep.


Avoid screens, tablets, phones, television an hour before bed - Read a book for fun or one that is educational or inspiring. Read a few pages even if it’s for 5-10 minutes. It’s amazing how quickly you can read a book just doing that. This method can allow you to read up to 12 books a year, depending on how fast you read. Also, have a book of quotes that inspires you. I like to read a little fiction as it quiets my mind. Meditation at this time is excellent too.


Avoid checking emails - Checking emails puts you in a reactive state vs. proactive state - you are buying into other people’s agenda. Instead, think of something you can look forward to the next day; end your day with good thoughts.


Arrange your clothes for the next day - This way you won’t be rushed in the morning.

Most importantly, customize your morning routine to your life style and see what works for you - Start slow but keep on doing it. Plan for the duration of your morning routine - start slow and increase as you see fit. You’ll know when it’s time to add more. Don’t make it a drudgery task. You are priming your brain and body to win the day.


Commit to it to the way you commit to brushing your teeth every morning - You, hopefully, would never start your day without brushing your teeth, think of your morning routine the same way.


Meditation is important - Again start small. It instills calmness and a level of awareness that’s important.


Avoid the snooze button – It only delays the inevitable.


Remember, Incorporate exercise, breathing or stretching to your level of comfort - You don’t have to do all the things in your routine but pick three that sets you up right. On vacation or travelling, modify your routine, so it’s still works for you even if it is modified. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it right. It’s good to stay in the routine as much as possible. We, as people are creatures of habit.


That is it, thank you so much for listening, here is the Summary of podcast:


1. Create a morning routine and start small if you’ve never done it before. Try to commit to at least a minute - it’s more important to have consistency, so you develop a pattern.


2. Incorporate water early in the morning as part of that routine


3. Make your bed - start your day with a win. It sets you up to create more wins possible.


4. Start breathing and doing a little bit of stretching, even if you’ve never done it before. We all can benefit from stretching and lubricating our body in a better way.


5. Take a couple of minutes and think about what you are grateful for. Remember; start with yourself, then your family, your friends, your opportunities, and the country you live in.


6. Think of an empowering question. Such as: “What can I be excited about today? Who can I be kind to or show some appreciation to today?” (It doesn’t have to be a big thing)


7. Be creative and install something that will charge you up and something that excites you; whether it’s looking at a beautiful picture or hugging somebody etc. There is one family that I know who do a morning huddle and hug each other before they all exit the door together.


8. The last step is to end your day by recalling two things that have created a positive impact on you.


I hope this podcast served you in some way, please share with a friend or colleague and subscribe to us in Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Spotify or your favourite podcast app. And please don't forget to leave a rating, I know it' seems like a small thing, but it makes a difference in terms of helping others find this podcast.

I'm Dr. Lalit Chawla and thank you so much for listening. Let's together make a greater more effective community and inspire people to live with Greater Harmony, Joy and Magic in their lives.


Tell me what you liked about this podcast and what would you like to hear in future episodes. I'd love to hear your comments and feedback.


Thank you and Have a Great Week!

Lalit Chawla

(A special thanks to the talented William Brown who edited the above transcript)


Footnote 1 (Seligman, M.E.P., Steen, T.A, Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005) psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421.

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