The unscientific link between waking up early, discipline, gratitude, happiness, clarity of thought, having a point of view, and business success
Since my early 20s, I have been unable to sleep past 6AM. My reason is pretty simple: FOMO, or the fear of missing out. I had a thought one morning after graduating college: if I’m lucky, I’ll be alive for 80 years. Quick math worked that out to approximately 21,000 days left on this planet. For whatever reason that random morning, that didn’t feel like a lot, and every morning since then whenever I feel like sleeping in, my desire to do something with my remaining days is stronger than my desire to sleep.
Another recurring thought has been popping in my head: I’m genuinely happy. This simple thought sometimes invokes feelings of guilt (like right now when I’m typing!). With so much suffering out in the world, it feels almost like gloating to say that I am happy. I then remember to find my equanimity: the practice of accepting and being comfortable with the world as it is and my feelings as they are.
When I have an awareness of my happiness, it is almost simultaneously followed by the feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for the relationships I was given at birth and that have grown over the past 43 years, as well as the opportunities that have been placed in front of me.
The more I am aware of my happiness and the more I am aware of being grateful, the more clarity of thought I have as to why I am grateful. This in turn leads me to be happier more consistently. Over the past four years, the discipline of spending time (about ten minutes) every morning practicing equanimity and self-awareness through meditation has made me more aware of my happiness. Being subconsciously happy has enabled the rest of my day to be focused on being productive, enjoying life, and achieving more. To me, this is quite profound.
Happiness is a state of mind, a choice, a way of living; it is not something to be achieved, it is something to be experienced. - Steve Maraboli
Now when the rest of your day is free from the oppression of negativity and supported by the lifting hand of gratitude, a very real sense of self-confidence takes hold. Frankly, I don’t quite know why, but it is there. But because it is born from gratitude and happiness, it’s also rooted in humility, and I am aware that I am simply a person in this world.
When I have confidence in myself, I can have a point of view. From what I’ve seen, when one has a point of view, people will listen. When people listen to you and trust you because you have a genuine point of view, you’ve built a foundation for business success. Because success in the business world is still fundamentally barter-and-trade between people.
Waking up early for the better part of my life, and then using that time to practice the discipline of equanimity and awareness of my place in the world has led to an increased sense of gratitude. It has increased my genuine happiness, given me clarity of thought throughout the rest of my day, which allows me to have a point of view. This, in turn, has led to levels of business success that I can be proud of - both in what I achieved and how I have achieved it.
The awareness of being happy has kicked off a virtuous cycle - in which happiness is the foundation.