"I'm rushing to find my livelihood," the man answered.
"And how do you know," the rabbi asked, "that your livelihood is running ahead of you? Maybe it's behind you, and all you need to do is stop running and it will catch up to you."
Within my first year of enlistment in the United States Coast Guard I was having a horrible go at. I had just finished telling my new friend Mike how much I dreaded what punishment I might receive for a recent drunken debacle. He responded by saying, “Well, it sounds like you need to include that in your morning routine.”
“Morning routine? What’s a morning routine?” I asked.
Mike continued by telling me that the most important thing I can do each day is to practice what he referred to as a “morning routine”. He suggested that I start immediately.
Each morning upon awakening, before putting on my uniform, even before showering, I was to enjoy a few minutes in positive contemplation with my morning coffee. This included reading a few pages from inspirational books he recommended*, saying a few familiar prayers, turning any concerns over to God and mediating on all that was good in my life.
Before I could react about not having enough time for all of that, Mike added, “and it only takes seven minutes, I timed it just for you.”
It seemed absurd but without any other options I heard him out.
“Life isn’t about jumping out of bed and racing into your miserable day. When was the last time you woke up just seven minutes earlier to be kind and loving to yourself?”
I was caught off guard. Was he really asking me if I was ever kind and loving to myself? This was a man’s man. We were standing on an Army base for goodness sake. All my defenses were up but I had no defense against kindness.
“Never,” I said.
“I promise that if you do this consistently for thirty days you will be amazed at how much your life will have transformed for the better. But if you can’t wake up just seven minutes earlier to be kind and loving to Darrell, there is nothing anybody can do to help you.”
I wanted to believe that what he said was true. Primarily because the thought of conning and manipulating my way out of the mess I was in felt too overwhelming. I was in over my head. I began the very next morning. I did it exactly like he prescribed.
Within fifteen days, I had an outrageously optimistic thought. “If I continue doing this and following whatever other helpful suggestions are offered to me, my life will continue to get better!” This thought felt so good that I can still remember exactly where I was when it hit me.
Something shifted in me. In that instant it became clear to me that life worked from the inside out. All my life I had struggled to improve my external circumstances. I was convinced that once I got everything arranged perfectly (i.e., right relationship, right career, right home, right car, etc.) then I’d be happy. Living this way was unbearable. I could never get it all together, so I believed I was a loser. What a thrill to discover that this was not the case at all.
Life is simpler than I had been imagining it to be. All I had to do was to switch from striving to believing. This simple seven-minute morning routine was taking me from a hopeless state of mind to hopeful state of mind.
We live in a spiritual universe. It runs according to spiritual law. Simply put; as our consciousness improves so will our circumstances. When you renew your faith upon awakening, blessings will chase you down throughout the day.
It has been over thirty years since I began doing the simple morning routine Mike shared with me. Within the first year, I went from being demoted to a rank lower than what one receives in boot camp, to serving as the Military Liaison to the civilian law enforcement community. In my position, I acted as the ambassador representing all five branches of United States military. It would appear that I had arrived there miraculously. There was no pushing, no shoving, just commitment to practicing a simple morning routine.
The truth is one does not have faith because things are going well. Rather, things go well because one has faith. Faith has been defined as a state of joyful expectancy. I like that definition. My regular morning routine helps me to maintain this healthy state of mind.
Anyone can enjoy a life without struggle. Begin with a morning routine of prayer and meditation. It works even if you don’t believe it. If you are willing to continue for just thirty days, you will be so thrilled at how much your life has improved that you will come to rely on it.
*The readings recommended included Unity’s Daily Word Magazine. At that time, 1986, Mike treated me to my first one-year subscription. I became a subscriber the following year and have continued ever year since. I’ve also adopted Mike’s practice and treat new friends who are interested in starting a morning routine to their first year’s subscription of the Daily Word Magazine as well.
Artist Darrell Fusaro is a decorated U.S. Coast Guard veteran and author of “What if Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug?” To learn more about Darrell visit wwwThisWillMakeYouHappy.com