wake upWhen I was a boy in Kenya, we kept a rooster in our backyard. Every morning, bright and early, that rooster would do what roosters do when the sun comes up.

I hated that rooster.

I remember telling my dad that I thought we should slaughter the creature and make a dinner of it, but he wouldn't even consider it. He said that the sound of that rooster in the morning was a magnificent, wonderful sound. It was like nature's alarm clock, alerting us all to the dawn of a new day, full of possibilities. He said that it was a great reminder that we should greet each day with enthusiasm and energy.

I didn't quite get that way of thinking back then when I was a young kid who just wanted to sleep in the morning – like many of my father's lessons, I came to see the wisdom of it as I grew older. I came to realize that the way we begin each morning, and the energy and the attitude that we choose to start the day with, can have an enormous influence on daily life.

Today, I have a morning routine that I have sworn by for years. First off, right after I get up, I look in the mirror and say, "It's great to be Imtiaz." Laugh if you want, but I really do this, and it makes me feel good. Try it yourself (but remember to use your own name).

Then I spend 20 minutes in quiet contemplation and prayer, where I give thanks for all my blessings and ask for continued guidance and good health for me and my loved ones. This mental exercise makes me feel both peaceful and energized.

It also makes me feel more mindful and focused—and here is where the final part of my morning ritual comes in. Each morning I ask myself, "What is one thing I will do today that I will feel great about at the end of the day?" It doesn't have to be something big—I may have many more important things on the agenda that day—but it is something that represents an improvement or a simple indulgent pleasure, like having lunch with my sons. I decide on that one special achievement, and head out to face the day.

This is an example of how small changes can make big differences. Just starting the morning with the right mindset can create a momentum that changes how you deal with the whole day. And choosing one improvement to make that day makes each day meaningful, rewarding and special—no matter what else happens. Remember it doesn't have to be something big, but 365 little victories over the course of a year can add up to some pretty transformative changes in your life.

At some level, we all realize that each day is a gift, but it is so easy to let the routines of life rob us of that sense of wonder. Sometimes, it takes a special effort to appreciate life to the fullest, and that can start with waking up to the possibilities of each day.


Commenter's Profile Image Salim Ladha
July 7th, 2014
I like your outlook on life .
Commenter's Profile Image John Sweeney
July 8th, 2014
Love the post Imtiaz.... I haven't been consistent with my morning routine over the last 6 months and I can see how it really effects my days.. I have to get back on it! thanks for the encouragement and reminder..
Commenter's Profile Image Muna Strasser
July 10th, 2014
What's wrong with saying, "It's great to be Imtiaz?" It works for me!!! Just kidding! I love this story- also great to add a note in the gratitude jar at the end of the day for that very thing that went so well, and review it at the end of the year!