Discover the Japanese morning routine that will improve your day

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Helen Booth
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Want to get more done? Start the day by focusing on your ‘ikigai’

When you have a busy day ahead – perhaps packed with back-to-back meetings, or filled with urgent deadlines – an energising morning routine can mean the difference between tackling everything on your to-do list with time to spare, and finding yourself stuck at the office long after everyone else has gone home.

And while we all know that mornings that begin with hitting the snooze button – or worse, scrolling through your phone in bed – are less than ideal, both of these habits (and the rush to shower and dress that inevitably follows) are familiar to most of us.

If you really want to ditch stressful mornings for good, you might want to take notice of the advice from Ken Mogi – neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai.

‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese word which refers to your purpose in life – and Mogi suggests that focussing on this concept in the first couple of hours after you wake is the key to starting off your day on the right foot.

According to Mogi, your purpose in life is whatever makes you feel energised and motivated, and finding it usually involves focussing on the ‘five pillars’: starting small, accepting yourself, connecting with the world around you (through other people and the environment), seeking out small joys and being in the here and now.

That may sound like a lot, but you could put it into action by implementing just one new morning habit – for example, a morning meditation ritual would tick off quite a few of those boxes, as would attending a relaxing yoga class or simply taking the time to sit down and enjoy a proper breakfast before you indulge in any screen-time.

Whatever change you make, it should be something that makes you happy. “It is crucial to realize that moods can be changed through small joys,” says Mogi. “The fact is once the context is changed, your brain will adapt to that new context and moods can change in a short time.”

So, tomorrow, why not start small as Mogi advises, and resist checking your phone until you’ve enjoyed some time to yourself – even if that simply means sitting down to enjoy your morning coffee. That one small change could improve your mindset for the rest of the day.

Images: Emma Lopez, Alexandra Gorn, Unsplash


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Helen Booth

Helen Booth is a London-based writer, digital editor and part-time maker who loves interiors, crafts and keeping tabs on trends. She also co-founded the weekly newsletter Lunch Hour Links.