'Morning Mind Exercise' For Gratitude and Mental Sharpness

By Greg Thurston
Creator of Seven Minute Mindfulness
As you may know I’ve been learning Spanish, and somehow I stumbled into this very cool but slightly odd morning mind practice.

It’s a triple whammy, helping me to prime my mind for positivity and gratitude each day, exercising the brain, and improving my memory with Spanish.


And it's not just for language learners! You can use it in all sorts of different ways (I’ll explain below).

Here’s what I started doing….
morning exercise for mental strength and gratitude

My morning exercise for the mind and spirit

At the time I was reading a beautiful book of inspiring short stories, written in Spanish (use an English book if you’re not learning Spanish).

So, every morning I would start the day reading, translating as I go.

Then I started choosing a nice line or quote, and writing it down using my left hand (my non-dominant hand).

Sometimes I wrote one sentence, sometimes I repeated a sentence a few times to let it really sink in (like writing lines at school), and sometimes I continue with writing a few sentences or a page.

Instructions

  1. Find something beautiful and uplifting to read in the morning (a short story, music lyrics, a quote….)

  2.  On paper, copy a sentence or paragraph, writing with your non-dominant hand (for me it’s my left hand).

  3. If you like, repeat the same sentence (like writing lines at school), or continue with another sentence... or just take a few moments to let the idea wash over you.

So, how does this help?

I’m not claiming any scientific backing for this exercise, but it really primed my mind for a great day and improved my memory.

First, starting the day with an uplifting book is powerful on its own.

The first thoughts into your mind each day should be uplifting, not the news or Facebook.

It sets a positive tone for your mind, and gives something to ponder throughout the day.

Second, writing with your non-dominant hand really makes you slow down...

It makes you be mindful about what you’re doing... the words you’re writing and the meaning behind them.

This is an added bonus for language learners, spending a few extra minutes each day with a dozen individual words really strengthens the memory and builds your vocabulary.

Third, it's an amazing exercise for hand-eye coordination.

It’s mind-blowingly difficult to write with your non-dominant hand... the way your dominant hand does "naturally!"

As I said, I have absolutely no scientific evidence on this, but I’d be willing to bet $20 that writing with your non-dominant hand has a powerful effect on brain health… just like meditation, language learning, and playing music strengthens the brain and keeps it young.

When you first start, your writing will look like a five year old’s, but it will quickly improve with practice... You couldn’t find a more tangible example of our ability to learn than that!

Finally, this exercise shifts your mindset to gratitude.

For all the reasons above, this morning practice fills me with amazement and gratitude. Looking at those crooked letters, you quickly appreciate just how skilled your dominant hand is.

This ability that we take for granted, is a whole bunch of muscle memory in the arm and brain, allowing us to move a pen with so much precision.

It makes you think about all the other amazing processes that we take for granted.

Adaptations

Here’s a few adaptations on this that I like to do.
  • I like to Google Spanish song lyrics (Manu Chao! ), and day by day copy them, along with their English translation, with my left hand.

    This is a beautiful way to learn, and it’s reinforced every time I put the song on.

  • You can apply this hand-eye training to many tasks...

    When I was playing a lot of squash, I would often spend 5 minutes hitting the ball with my left hand.

    Not only did I quickly improve with my left hand, it also improved my game with my right hand... maybe because I had to watch and move with greater awareness.

  • Make flash cards with a simple word on each, e.g "surf, fun, happiness...". Then grab a flashcard each morning, and write uplifting sentences with your left hand.

    I used to practice writing sentences in Spanish in this way.

    E.g., for the flashcard “surf,” I would write “mi encanta hacer surf”“I love to surf.”

    By the way, this is equally nice without the Spanish twist. Some words I used are “learn, travel, help, patience, belief, surf, feel great, vision, 100 percent.”

I hope you enjoyed today's blog post. Share it with your friends if you think they'll like it, or leave a comment below :-)

Greg Thurston
Creator of Seven Minute Mindfulness
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