Author: Jason Loebig

Your brain makes distinctions every day on what is “good” vs. what is “bad.” 

We do it with food and the weather, all the way to exercise, chores at home, and tasks at work. You make thousands of snap judgments on whether you like doing something or not, and this serves as reinforcement for the next time you are faced with a similar decision.

Below are a few easy dos and dont's to rewire your brain to crush each day (as you perceive it to be) at your fullest potential.

The Dont’s

Don’t let the weather affect whether it is a “good” or “bad” day outside.

This is especially true as we move into the winter months. It can be challenging to face freezing cold temperature, in the dark, on your way to work. It can be challenging to throw your winter running gear on and take a few gusts of wind to the face as your work towards your goals. 

The problem therein lies with considering any day “bad” because of the weather. Sure, it gives you something to talk about on your elevator rides, but that’s an easy way out of a potentially awkward social interaction. Want to try something different? Next time your elevator mate says, “How bout that weather out there? It’s so cold I don’t want to do anything but stay in bed,” try responding with, “Oh, I actually love it. I get to [insert activity outside], which you just can’t get during the summer.”

You’ll certainly get a few odd looks, but people will also think you’re a determined, go-getter style person. And you will surely save yourself from complaining so many days this winter.

I made a goal in November to run outside every single day it was raining. I didn’t want “bad weather” (which was usually just some mild rain) to affect the way I attacked my day, nor keep me from doing whatever I wanted. I celebrated it.

Don’t use food as a “reward”

This is vitally important around the holidays. There are times when it is appropriate to “reward” yourself with a treat. But what do you consider a “treat?”

If you’re cramming in your veggies to get to dessert (the “good” food), you’ve now made a mental association towards what is good and what is bad – not too incentivizing to finish your greens if your ice cream isn’t around….

All food you consume is either medicine or it is poison. You’re either making strides towards your goal or away from it. The holiday season presents the most difficult challenge to staying on track during the entire year, which serves as a great starting point for your self-discipline. Self-discipline > Self-motivation. The battery meter for motivation can run out pretty quickly when you’re out with friends and family.

Tip: Reintroduce the foods you’ve cut out (e.g. pumpkin pie) in a small dose after sticking with your planned nutrition for a whole week. This will serve to mute the voice in your head (and stomach) telling you you’re getting a craving – in this way, you are using a small step back to stay on track going forward. Three steps forward, one step back, three steps forward.

The Dos

Start your day off with something you want to do, not something you have to do.

This is a very interesting change in mindset. What is your motivation to wake up in the morning?

If your alarm clock sounds at 6am and your activities consist of brushing your teeth, showering, throwing clothes on, and rushing out the door for work, it is very likely you resent mornings. I get questions almost every day on, “How do I become a morning person?”

The answer is by waking up to do something you want to do, not something you have to do. Try creating a few morning tasks that you love. If that’s working out, wake up an hour earlier to get to the gym. If that’s when your young children wake you up, make a routine that you will cherish forever (someday they’ll sleep in, and you’ll still be getting up early…).

I make my coffee, which takes about 20 minutes. It’s a process, sure, but one that I can rely on to help me start my day in a relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes I read 20 pages from a book I can’t put down. During the summer, I watched the sunrise several mornings.

Ultimately, it will be pursuing your passions that make you jump out of bed rather than roll over onto your snooze button. If you’re not at that point yet, use your extra morning time to work towards figuring out how to make that your reality.

Develop a morning mindset that feeds motivation.

This is where our “Best Day Ever, Every Single Day” mantra goes to work. You have the power to change your perception of a “good” day vs. a “bad” day at any point. Making more “good” days begins with how you start your day. In the above example of hot docking into work after resenting the fact that it woke you up, your mind is now prepared to make negative judgments on what follows. If the copier breaks, that’s now the 10th thing that’s gone wrong this morning, and another thing that you hate having to deal with. Instead of being a very small but easily fixable inconvenience, your brain now further reinforces that the day is conspiring against you.

Your morning didn’t go as planned? Plan a better evening, and then do it.

Consider how you felt sitting around the table at Thanksgiving dinner with your family. That warm, fuzzy feeling of “home” is one of the best feelings in the world. Whether you expressed it or not, you felt gratitude in its purest form. You felt thankful to be around people you love and who love you in return. If the term isn’t too fluffy for you by now, use gratitude as your morning mantra. It’s hard to feel angry when you’re feeling thankful.