One of the best practices I’ve ever learned is from the Buddhist meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.

This is what he says: “Waking up this morning, I smile.”

Now that may not seem like a life-changing practice, but think about it:

– How do you wake up? Do you feel tired, groggy, and rush (with dread) straight into the day?
– When is the first time you smile in the day?

Most of us want to feel good. We want to feel calm, happy, and in control of our lives.

But in our urgency to get to this elusive feel-good place, we forget how to actually feel good in the moment.

It’s as if we’re waiting for joy to stumble upon us instead of cultivating the sensation within.

When you smile first thing in the morning, you take charge of your life.

You tell your body – forget stress and worry, I’m choosing to be happy.

You tell your mind – forget rushing around on someone else’s schedule, I’m choosing to be at peace in the moment.

You tell your soul – forget the times I believed I wasn’t enough, I’m choosing to be fulfilled and content today.

You become the master of your own experience.

For the past few years, I’ve woken up to the sun streaming in through the window and across my face. I smile and spend 10 quiet minutes soaking it in before getting up.

It’s not an easy practice.

Sometimes my mind resists – aren’t I supposed to resent the morning? Shouldn’t I be dragging and tired? If I smile, doesn’t that absolve whatever’s first on my schedule from it’s blame in making me stressed?

But I smile anyway. Because this act is where my power is – this is where I determine how I feel and what I think, which is the only control I really have.

Try it in your life tomorrow and see what you think.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Be free. Be brave. Be YOU!