Yesterday was my birthday.
When I was younger, my birthday eve would be a day full of excitement and expectation. I would willingly go to bed to bring the next day around faster. The morning of my birthday I would wake up early , too exited for the day ahead to sleep any longer, and rush into my parent’s bedroom for cuddles, cards and presents.
These days, the gusto has dampened a bit. If I wake up early, its usually only by twenty minutes. A girl needs her sleep. Still – I awake with a smile and look forward seeing my Nana’s handwriting on the card she sent me, sweet Facebook messages and being spoiled by my husband. I start the day off, being grateful for all that is to happen in the next 24 hours. Guru dog Neve shares my excitement for the day. She play bows, rolls on her back and wags her tail with gusto.It is a day filled with love, excitement and surprise. I am content, and go to sleep silently listing all the things that were wonderful about the day.
And then the next morning when my husband wakes up, I’m annoyed that it is already time to get up. I want to keep sleeping. I roll over and snooze for a bit, eventually dragging myself out of bed. Neve play bows, rolls on her back and wags her tail with gusto just as she did the morning before.
Morning after that. Alarm. Groan. Snooze. Neve prances around, tries to wrestle with me and licks my face.
Every day of the year , guru dog Neve wakes up excited. She loves the mornings. It is her happiest time of day. Doesn’t matter what day it is… the dreaded Monday, a rainy Saturday or my birthday morning. She is just happy to be awake and with her pack.
I wonder how Neve acted when she woke up for the first seven years of her life. She lived in a small metal cage. She didn’t have a bed, coat or even a blanket to protect her from the elements. She knew the routine. She would be let out of the cage eventually for 1 – 2 hours to play with her litter mates. And then back into the cage she went for the next 22 hours.
Now, when Neve wakes up on a soft bed with her pack ( and that furry jerk cat Ratty) , I wonder if she realises how much her life has changed. Instead of a cold metal cage, she lives in a cosy apartment with couches and beds to snooze on. When it is cold, she has a variety of coats to keep her warm. Her human interaction has gone from only two hours a day, to at least 20. Her green algae filled water bowl has been replaced by organic food, home cooked meals and banana ( her favourite food). Her days are no longer spent lying on a hard metal floor, and are now filled with adventure and fun.
When look back on how much Neve’s life has changed – I think to myself, if I were her, I’d be so grateful every morning for the wonderful life I get to wake up to. And how nice that must be.
But then I realised. The life that Neve wakes up to, the one that brings her so much joy in her little doggie heart, is the same life I wake up to every morning too.
We live in the same apartment. If she wears a coat because it is cold, I wear a coat to keep me warm too. I get to hang out with her at least 20 hours a day. I eat organic vegan home cooked meals, and the odd banana ( although I do have to share it). All those adventures and fun Neve gets to have? I’m right there with her experiencing them too. Yet it is so easy to take it all for granted.
Sure – on your birthday or Christmas morning it is effortless to wake up with a sense of gratitude for the day. There is build up and anticipation. Plans are made, cards arrive in the mail. Maybe you go to stay with family or friends. You know there are gifts and surprises dotted throughout the day. And cake. You get to eat cake. So you wake up that day, excited for everything you are going to experience. Heck, even a Saturday morning can be met with as much anticipation as a birthday sometimes. But on that Monday morning in the no mans land between your birthday, Christmas or any other holiday you enjoy… waking up to a new day can feel like hard work. Even though there are all these amazing things in your everyday life that you will experience that day.
So how can we wake up more like guru dog Neve and get that birthday feeling every morning? Gratitude. The more you cultivate a practice of being thankful for the little every day happenings in your life – as well as the big milestones – the more you will realise that you do have wonderful things to look forward to each day. Plus studies show that gratitude helps lower blood pressure, boosts immunity, reduces feelings of loneliness and creates greater feelings of joy. So why wouldn’t you bring some gratitude into your life?
Here are some ways you can practice gratitude to get that happy puppy vibe when you wake up:
Start a gratitude journal, write in it each night and review the previous day each morning
Set a reminder on you phone for when you wake up that asks ‘What are you grateful for today?’
Grab a gratitude buddy, either your partner or someone you can text each night to share one thing you are grateful for from the day
Put a post-it on your bathroom mirror that says “I am grateful” and repeat this while brushing your teeth
Start doing at least one of these practices every day, and see your mornings shift from ho-hum to guru dog level joy.
What do you do to cultivate gratitude in your life? Have you been guilty of taking your everyday life for granted? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Love and joyful mornings,