There is nothing I enjoy more than a long morning—the kind where you wake up to natural sunlight, slowly make your way downstairs, brew up coffee just the way you like it, and linger in the living room for hours, watching the Today Show and catching up on blog-reading. If you don’t know what a morning like that feels like, I urge you to try it, because it’s truly one of the best things in life.
Upon realizing just how special these kinds of mornings are, I decided to make them happen more often…as in, nearly every day. At first I felt really lazy—after all, only lazy people have time to lounge around until 9am watching TV and reading for fun, right?!? Wrong. Happy people and relaxed people make time to lounge around like that, understanding that success doesn’t always mean starting work for the day as early as humanly possible. Arianna Huffington recently spoke to this truth in a commencement speech at Smith College…
“What adding well-being to our definition of success means is that, in addition to looking after our financial capital, we need to do everything we can to protect and nurture our human capital. My mother was an expert at that. I still remember, when I was twelve years old, a very successful Greek businessman coming for dinner. He looked rundown and exhausted. But when we sat down to dinner, he told us how well things were going for him. He was thrilled about a new contract he had just won to build a new museum. My mother was not impressed. “I don’t care how well your business is doing,” she told him bluntly,” you’re not taking care of you. Your business might have a great bottom line, but you are your most important capital. There are only so many withdrawals you can make from your health bank account, but you just keep on withdrawing. You could go bankrupt if you don’t make some deposits soon.”
If we only measure success in academic and work-related achievement, we will live a sad, tired, burnt-out life. But if we choose to step back, lean out a bit and protect our human capital, we live more fulfilled, more whole and truly more successful lives. Sleep and rest and regular relaxation are what keep us going day after day—they make us more kind, more loving, more focused and more efficient in all arenas of our lives.
It’s worth noting that I recognize the immense privilege I have of being someone who works from home, and for that I am so grateful. Whenever I feel alone in my home office and miss having co-workers next to me, I remind myself of what a gift it is to be able to run errands at any time, grab coffee with friends in the middle of the day, and of course, hang out on my couch while everyone else is on the roads commuting to their offices. However, just because you work in a traditional office environment and have 7am meetings during the week doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a long morning from time to time.
This weekend, give it a try. Don’t set the alarm. Linger in bed for a while. Let yourself saunter slowly into the kitchen for coffee. And sit on the couch for a really, really long time doing whatever makes you feel relaxed. Want to make this happen on a daily basis despite the fact that you start work early? Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s tough to transition, for sure, but it’s definitely worth it in the grand scheme of things. Before you know it, you’ll love getting up early and spending hours sipping coffee and relaxing before you head into the office. It’s like a daily vacation for the soul.
Do you make time to have long mornings? How do you define success?
Image via Refuses to Label