Sometime this summer, I started making lists before I fell asleep: a few things I was grateful for, and a few things I was excited for. Because it was so easy and felt so good, I kept doing it, and at this point it’s a staple of my nighttime routine. It’s so easy, so fast, and provides so much clarity and contentment. No matter where I am or how late it is, I quickly make these lists in my head right when I get into bed. I don’t feel the need to write them down; I just count on my fingers, then move on. If I’ve had a bad night, it really serves to ground me back into myself, and remind myself of all the positives in my life. If I’ve had a great night, it only serves to reaffirm that positivity! Here is my list ritual:
1. Ten things I’m grateful for. These can be as big or as small as you want. I like including a variety; usually “having a bed” is pretty high on the list. It’s often something like “I’m grateful I have great friends” or “I’m grateful I made it home safely” or “I’m grateful I love to read”. Or, you know, “I’m grateful nutritional yeast and popcorn exist and they taste so good together.” Be as specific or general as you want! It can really be anything; it reminds us that the small stuff in life is amazing too!
2. Two things I’m proud of. This one’s huge. I find two things from the day– ways I acted, or tasks I got done, or fears I conquered, or bad habits I didn’t indulge– that I’m really proud of myself for. Even just listing two is so significant. And again, it can be small! “I’m proud I confronted my friend” or “I’m proud I finally paid that bill” or “I’m proud I didn’t drink too much”. Anything that makes you feel good about the way you chose to act! This one really does make me glow with the knowledge that I’ve got my own back.
3. Five things I’m excited for tomorrow. This one puts me in a good mood for the next day. I list five things that I truly feel excitement for that I know I’ll get to do tomorrow. Number one is ALWAYS coffee. Usually, they’re the same small things: reading on the bus, wearing a favorite t-shirt, getting soup for lunch. But these are important; they’re the little things that make up our lives. And looking forward to concrete things that make you feel good is like a promise to yourself that, again, you’re looking out. You want to make yourself happy.
4. Five things I’m excited for in general. This is for all the stuff that won’t come tomorrow or maybe even this week, but stuff I know will happen! Upcoming parties, or special events, or a friend’s visit, or a haircut, or a book you’re dying to read. Anything, big or small, that is definitely in your near future. This sets your sights not just on the next day but on five concretely positive things you’ve lined up for yourself.
Mix & match to create your own nightly routine. This particular combo of lists happens to work best for me, and always leaves me happy and grounded before I sleep. And then I wake up raring to go—and for a morning person like me, that’s the best feeling there is.