How to Set the Tone

Last night I didn’t have the most restful sleep because I had to pee.

I woke up in the middle of the night and while it felt like 5 or 6am, I hit the light button on my little clock and the face lit up in a soothing blue and I discovered it was only 3am.

But instead of doing the wise thing and giving in to my urge to tinkle, I ignored it and went back to bed.

I then woke up because I wet myself!…




Anyway, I’d set my actual alarm for 6:28am and got up then.

I did my morning gratitude routine, which is to think of ONE thing I’m grateful for while still lying in bed after waking up.

Today, I expressed my gratitude for the back surgery I had and how it taught me so many lessons about the body and helped open up a career that I love.

back scar

Through this painful experience, I’ve discovered the power that injuries have to teach us about how the body works.

The lessons are way more powerful than anything you could learn in a textbook or a university degree.

If you hurt your knee for example, you can test different positions of weight bearing with the injured knee forward while keeping most of your weight on your back leg and/or supporting yourself with your arms and see what hurts and how activation of the glutes might eliminate the pain.

This is just one simple example and the key is the underlying concept:

Use injuries as a tool for greater awareness of and how better to control your body…

… and not something you feel depressed and get all upset about and use as an excuse to switch your diet to sugar, cheap vegetable oils, salt and as many artificial flavourings as possible.

Instead, make lemonade out of lemons and on top of the lesson of how to prevent the injury in the first place, it puts experiencing an injury pretty high up on the list of the top coaches of movement and exercise in the world.

Note the word “experiencing” instead of “suffering” in that paragraph above…

Let’s change that language we use around injuries so we’re not dooming ourselves from the start.

Which brings me back to waking up…

a healthy bodyWhat’s the first thing you do to set the tone of the day?

If you’re hitting snooze repeatedly, you’re starting off the day procrastinating.

If you wake up and think to yourself as you get up, “I’m sooooo tired,” you’re starting off the day in a state of low energy and resistance.

Or if you get up and everything is on auto-pilot, you’re starting the day off unconsciously and habitually.

These things are fine and if they’re working for you keep going, but I suggest you try starting your day with a little gratitude and you might find it’ll upgrade your days.

It’s a conscious, mindful practice that gets you in a state of being thankful for what you have instead of living mindlessly and not being present as you’re thinking about the future or things you want.

I used to use a journal where it asked me to write 3 things I was grateful for, but I found this process cumbersome and it became mechanical where it didn’t mean anything more than another task to complete, so I ditched it in favour of the process I’ve described here.

It’s easier and I found dropping from 3 things to 1 increases my enjoyment of whatever it is I think about.

It doesn’t take long but might require you to wake up a few minutes earlier if your current routine is very habitual, but it’s well worth those couple of minutes.

The POWER of Simplicity

If you want to give it a shot, mark your start day in the calendar then give it 28 days and stick to it, then re-assess to see if it’s been worth it.

Don’t marry this idea yet – just give it a fair chance for 28 days then make up your mind.

This is what I and my Inner Circle members refer to as the Lifestyle Experiment (LE) – something simple where you track your performance for 28 days then decide if you want to keep it going.

The beauty of this is that it’s easy to stick to since it’s just 28 days and if you do decide to continue, you’re 80% of the way to making it a habit and you’ll just need another 2-4 weeks of attention to make it one.

Do you have any simple things you do in your life that you think makes it better?

If so, please share them below.

I’m always running Lifestyle Experiments and need lots of good ideas and who better to ask than someone smart, fit and in alignment with my own values than you. 🙂

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AndrewPatriciaEric Wongwalter jacobsohnDaniel Recent comment authors
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Another thing you should be grateful everyday for is just waking up because it means you still have time to make a difference in the world if you waste it you have no one else to blame


I start my days pretty simply i look for what I call a wow moment whether it’s a sunrise watching a bird fly just something amazing. Then I make a concentrated effort to complement someone during the day it’s called the ripple effect it makes them feel good and me


Hi Eric,
I start my day with gratitude statements too. I did the journaling but this statement idea works better. I also do a daily meditation before getting up. Thanks for the article about injury I like you’re suggestion of repositioning so you can still do the movement. I have been working with loosening my psoas muscles as they were causing me some issues.

walter jacobsohn
walter jacobsohn

A cup of black coffee and out the door for a 5km run. This is usually around 3am due to early work start..wj

Eric Wong

that’s dedication!


The first thing I do in the morning after bathroom and drinking water is praying for 20 minutes – it includes gratitude for the good things in my life.
I strongly believe that starting every day with Love is the best thing anyone can do to stay on the course 🙂

Eric Wong


Isaac Hoffman
Isaac Hoffman

5-15min improvisational flow movement followed by 15-30min seated breath-work(pranayama)/seated meditation. The 5 minute flow (ala Max Shank) tremendously improved the quality of my morning meditation. Been doing this for about 3 years and it gets better every day.

Eric Wong

Nice share, thanks Isaac.


When I’m feeling a tad ‘off top whack’ I remember working in a school for children with, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties, I very soon get into a higher gear!!

Bruce Ammons
Bruce Ammons

It is always a great idea to start “doable” (small) with a new habit, as they take time to evaluate and then establish. As Coach EW points out: if it starts to become thoughtless and fails to motivate — check how you are doing it, respect yourself (time, energy, etc), and don’t be afraid to modify and test again. Simple quitting is rarely the best thing to do if you are into radical self-exploration – – which this group seems to be!


Definitely helped me. I’ve been trying to keep a journal because I know I should practice gratitude but, like you said, it has become mechanical and I am somewhat missing the point. It actually makes me want to sleep more because I dread doing it. The same goes for planning out my day. I normally write 3 or so things that I should do that day but I need to remind myself that it is the idea that counts and not just the words on the paper. I may still keep a journal and do these things for clarity but if I do I think I will start with the idea, think about it in depth and then write it down. Just thought I’d share my thoughts.

ralph gauthier
ralph gauthier

Ii drink 2 cold water glasses of water mixed with lemon juice to assist my metabolism. I have lost 4 pounds in the last month doing not much as I await my new hip operation on MARCH 1st discussion

Eric Wong

I love the lemon water in the AM, esp. with a pinch of sea salt…

Right now I’m on a Wheat Grass kick so I just slam a glass of water with the grass in it and off I go… but I’ll always go back to lemon water.

Eric Wong

Thanks for sharing Jamie. I say drop the journal and just wake up and think of ONE thing to be grateful for.

As for planning your day, I suggest you do it the night before and start by putting… yep – you guessed it… ONE thing on your list. Cross it off then do whatever else you feel you should do that day. Or not. But get in the habit of crossing ONE thing off, when that’s set, go to TWO things.