Setting Your Plate

Harold Eating Scrambled Eggs

When you wake up, what are the first actions you take? If you’re like most people who read this blog, you probably reach for your phone or iPad and check your email, texts, tweets, and other notifications. You might do this before most anything else. It’s probably habit by now.

But consider it: what you’re doing is letting other people’s thoughts and opinions into your head before you’ve had a moment to consider your own. You’re letting the world set your plate for you, and pick your breakfast thoughts. You’re setting yourself up to have to react to whatever you encounter.

Abundance and Your Plate

I’m learning about abundance and spiritual wealth by reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams (One Hour of Wisdom) (amazon affiliate link). It’s by Deepak Chopra, and is one of those “law of attraction” kinds of books. But when I look through my bookmarks, the advice I follow makes for a great “breakfast” for my mind. Here’s just a quick sketch of notes that I read upon waking.

“Success in life can be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”

“In spiritual terms, success is measured by how efficiently, how effortlessly, we co-create with the universe.”

“Whenever you meet someone, silently send that person a blessing. This kind of silent giving is very powerful. Give wherever you go, and as you give, you will receive.”

How has this affected me? It has most definitely put my head in a completely different place before starting in on my day’s efforts. It has let me relax my worries about people who don’t like me for one reason or another. It removes a lot of my frustration with how other people do what they do. It lets me think more about my own goals and plans instead of letting the world’s ideas flood into me and over me.

We pre-program ourselves with a whole lot of negative thoughts, and the requirements of others. Maybe it’s time to rethink that.

Set Your Own Plate

In the morning, when you wake, leave the outside world out until you’re ready. Close your eyes. (Did you know your optical functions take up 1/3 of your brain’s energy?) Take a moment and ask yourself how you want to face the day. Ask yourself what you want to focus your energies on, what matters the most to you, how you’ll communicate with the people you interact with, and more.

And if something sets you off, try to get back to your own side quickly. If you’re thrown off balance, do something about it. Start again. Reset. Just set your own plate. Remember what matters to you. And do it over and over again.

If you start your days off like this, I can promise they will work a lot better than when you let the world in to interfere with your thoughts ahead of time. You’ll enjoy this a bunch more.

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  • Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Chris,

    I roll out of bed right onto the meditation mat.

    I sit for 20 minutes. Then I do affirmations for a few minutes. Before I approach the laptop I make sure I feel good. If I do not feel good, I do not approach the laptop. I learned this lesson the hard way, after many months of trying to control circumstances around me.

    Get your mental world clear and the physical world follows. Amazing, how we are designed, yet so few people use these blessings by taking the time to hone their mental tools.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Bruno Pierre Gebarski

    Hi Chris
    The first thing I do when I get up is to thank God that I am alive, I’ve had a good night of rest (most of the time!), plenty of air to breath, food to eat and most important water to drink, cook, clean and shower! Those are the basics of life I thank my Creator for because they are not to be taken for granted! After that I immerse myself in some area of the bible to reinforce my spiritual foundation add wisdom, strength, consistency, reliability and above all peace to my way of dealing with God myself & my fellow human beings! I think this is the most important morning spiritual catch up as far as I am concerned; then I proceed to my work and responsibilities! Greetings from the other side of the pond! 

  • Rick Manelius

    For the last few months, I definitely fell into the ‘check my emails the second my eyes open’ trap. The problem was it gave me ZERO time to set my own agenda and priority list and made life a constant loop of work.

    Today, by contrast, I woke up at 4:10 and took a full 1.5 hours for me… meditating, reading, etc. It was amazing and then I woke up to see this post. What timing :)

    Now I’m in a much better headspace to take on the day. In short, I agree! 

    • Chris Brogan

      That is awesome! My morning was a bit unique today, but all good.  :) 

  • Dickie Armour

    I see you!
    Hey Chris, I’m tweeting your blog posts out to my followers each day and just wanted to let know that even though I don’t always comment, I’m reading every one.
    Tomorrow, I’ll keep my eyes closed a little while longer and set my plate of the day.
    Love it. Thanks for getting me thinking.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Dickie. I see you, too. I smile every time, thinking of our time together chatting in the UK. : ) 

  • Raul Colon

    I have read this advice on this blog multiple times. One of the few things I decide not to pay attention too understanding the consequences. 

    I am working on it. This reminder will serve me well for tomorrow will try again to not pick up my iPhone or iPad firs thing in the morning. 

  • Jamie Turner

    Hi, Chris —

    It’s great to see you’ve discovered Chopra’s “7 Spiritual Laws.” It was a pivotal book in my life and, like you, I read it after a divorce.

    If you like this kind of stuff, another excellent book — which I believe Julian was not a fan of — is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. (If I recall, Julian blogged about Tolle’s book and didn’t like it, but I may not remember that exactly right.) For me, Chopra and Tolle are two of the great spiritual thinkers in modern times and are a great source of peace and perspective.

    Glad to see you’re exploring all this. Keep us posted on your progress.

    All the best,
    Jamie Turner

    • Chris Brogan

      I have Tolle’s book, and I’m not really into it yet, but maybe it’ll be something that I get to after I absorb this. Know what I mean? Like, because I learn from this, I’ll be open to that. : ) 

      • Jamie Turner

         I agree — I read “7 Spiritual Laws” several times before I was genuinely putting it into practice. It took me many months to fully absorb it. After that, I moved on to Tolle’s book, which is a harder read, but even more spiritually satisfying.

        You and I also both meditate, which has been another source of peace and perspective. I hope more people try that, too.


  • Deb Orton

    Have you ever noticed that once you focus on an enriching topic that you begin to read and see if everywhere? Abundance mentality has been on my mind for the last few months. I’ve pulled out Stephen Covey again, dusting off Principle Centered Leadership. I’ve certainly read “The Power of Now” as Jamie Turner suggests. I’ll pick up this one as well. 
    Most important to me each morning is to refrain from email and anything requiring quick response. It sets the stage for the Urgent, but unimportant. Considering abundance and longer term happiness is the best way to start the day. 

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s EXACTLY what happens, Deb. It’s like you “attract” it to you. : ) 

      I have Power of Now, but it’s not grabbing me as much. I got the audio, too, in case that helps. But for whatever reason, Chopra’s method just seemed so simple. 

      As for refraining from email, you’re right. It changes things, I believe. 

  • Matt Medeiros

    This is something I really need to work on. As an entrepreneur, it feels like every morning starts different for a variety of responsibilities. 

    • Chris Brogan

      But you can always take that time BEFORE that all starts to sharpen yourself up and be ready

      • Matt Medeiros

        Very true my friend, very true!

      • Matt Medeiros

        Very true my friend, very true!

  • David Finch

    One of the words that I wanted to be foundational in how I shape 2012 was intentional. This plays huge when it comes to morning routines. It’s so easy to get caught up in consumption mode that investing in yourself finds its way on the back burner.

    Since I’ve decided to become more intentional about my routines, I’ve produced more in 2012 then all of last year.

    Thanks for the constant reminder! 

  • Rufus Dogg

    I walk three dogs. 

    • Denise Butchko

      Best part of that is “heal”……..

  • Christina Damiano

    All I can say is WOW. And thank you. I need to re-read “The Secret.” Starting today. I have lost touch with the law of attraction, which is probably why I have been attracting more negative energy than positive. I enjoy reading your posts and following you on Twitter for the social media stuff, but this is good too!

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s a swell book. I like Chopra’s book a hair more because it’s more “actionable.” It’s more “do this and then do this” whereas the Secret seemed to give me only 3 or 4 things tops to do. Might just be me. 

  • Christina Damiano

    All I can say is WOW. And thank you. I need to re-read “The Secret.” Starting today. I have lost touch with the law of attraction, which is probably why I have been attracting more negative energy than positive. I enjoy reading your posts and following you on Twitter for the social media stuff, but this is good too!

  • Chris Reimer

    It’s all about coffee. I’m a worthless blob without it

  • Shannon

    Checking my phone for messages and emails is the first thing I did this morning.  You are absolutely right, it can make or break my day.  I have my law of attraction life list and other awesome statements that I’m going to start reading instead.  I’m usually at a loss as to what to write on the blog I just started, but today, you’ve inspired me!  Thank you!

    • Chris Brogan

      Aha! Can’t wait to hear what you’ll do in the mornings now. : ) 

  • bsoist

    Excellent advice, Chris – thanks!

    I start my day by walking the dog, and then I do about an hour of reading. Then I get to work and save the distractions for later in the day. 

    • Chris Brogan

      Sounds swell! 

  • Basil C. Puglisi

    Great thought Chris, most people on this line of thinking have been quick to talk about the way Social and Smart Search is narrowing the way we think, it’s a great point to just think how our first interactions of the day can be influenced by a few minutes just of peeking at our devices. My only thought is, does watching the news in the morning do the same thing, and if so is this a national issue that we start are days directed by others? 

    • Chris Brogan

      I forgot to mention the news. I don’t watch it, so I forgot that others do. Yeah, don’t do that, either. : ) 

  • Beth

    Thanks for posting this Chris and sharing what you’re reading and learning. Sometimes it feels like it’s necessary for me to revisit things like this so your reminder came at a good time for me. In trying to do so much, I can be easily distracted by the seemingly urgent / not really important and throw myself off my game (intention). I like the idea of starting your day off by coming from what you want do do, feel, achieve etc.

    Appreciate ya! Have a good day.

    • Chris Brogan

      Happens to all of us, Beth. Glad this helped. : ) 

  • Hugh Macken

    Thanks for the reminder Chris. Your post reminds me of the Dutch proverb: “The seeds of the day are best planted in the first hour.”

  • Sadie Lankford

    Yes it’s like I’m a magnet sometimes!

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  • Dr Steve Tucker

    When I start my days with yoga, meditation and pranayama, the day always goes much more smoothly than when I start my day with email and news.  How you start your day generally sets the tone for your mindset/emotional state for the day and usually determines the kind of day you’re going to dave.

    • Chris Brogan

      Sounds perfect, Doctor. I like your plan. I haven’t yet brought yoga into my daily practice, but it’s a goal. 

  • JosephRatliff

    After some depressed feelings and getting a kick in the ass from a mentor 5 or so years ago…I get up at 5:30am every morning.

    From 5:30am – 6:00am I “set my plate” as you put it… ever since I  started doing this, it’s hardly a day going by that I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

    • Chris Brogan

      That is SO awesome! 

  • John

    Great advice. If you check your email before getting the day started, you are telling everyone else that you own no part of your own life. I take it even farther sometimes and won’t open an email until I’M ready, unless it says EMERGENCY in the title.

  • Jacob

    This was very compelling. I can’t tell you how often the first thing I
    do every morning is check my email, Facebook, Drudge Report, what have
    you.   Probably not healthy to begin my day with immediate immersion in online communications! I think I’ll take your recommendation to heart.

    • Chris Brogan

      Definitely not. Let me know what you find out. 

  • Ryan Hanley

    Right now my mental is being acted upon by your boy Julien and The Flinch… There is serious wisdom in that book and I’m happy to let it infiltrate my mind.


    • Visnja Zeljeznjak

      Oh good, if you’re reading The Flinch, I guess you’ll be showering in icy water tomorrow morning ;-) (do it, you’ll thank yourself later)

    • Chris Brogan

      Do the shower thing. @fitarella:twitter did it and I watched her. It was wild. 

      • Ryan Hanley

        I’m going to do it right now!

  • Anonymous

    Breakfast while reading the funnies is my morning routine. Can’t go wrong eating eggs while laughing at Dagwood. (And yes I am one of the 10 people in the US who actually subscribes to a hard copy newspaper.)

    I used to get right on the computer and realized it made me feel rushed the rest of the day. Great analogy.

    • Chris Brogan

      Great way to start, really. The funnies can be fun. : ) 

  • Samcalvert

    quick good  morning coffee foglifter with my wife and daughter, then the drive my daughter to school, then my morning get ready, and THEN the emails, phone and go. You don’t do this (among other things) you’ll find your family will grow up and old without you. Don’t grow old to say you missed it. If you’re any kind of family man you’ll live to regret it.

    • Chris Brogan

      Awesome, Sam. Great way to think about this. 

  • Denise Butchko

    From that space – before I pick up the electronic device – I ask the universe “what do you want me to do, where do you want me to go, what do you want me to say and to whom”. I am then divinely guided.

  • Martz Hobert

    My routine was pick up my device to shut down the alarm clock, fix the airbed since I just sleeping on our living room, check computer for mails and so on.  I love the quotes especially about silence.  If you give silence majority of them will not talk about you and if you give more you will receive more.  This post definitely made my day and the quotes gave me a hint on what to do.

    • Chris Brogan

      Silence is definitely a powerful tool. I’m not good at it. Yet. 

      • Wendy Pitts Reeves

         “Yet” is a great word, Chris…. There’s such power and potential inside that one small word. It holds all that you have not yet discovered about your Self and your abilities, your choices and your creations. It holds all that you WILL discover, and develop. And in the Silence that you aren’t good at – yet – who knows what will bubble up?

        I look forward to watching this unfold for you. Thank you

  • Tamara Epps

    Each morning I start with breakfast and then I turn on my laptop and write my 750 words before reading anything online as this allows me to work out what my focus for the day is going to be and anything else my mind brings to my attention.

  • janet wallace

    if it’s even possible, i love who you are becoming even more than i did yesterday. thanks for sharing, cb.

  • Konrad Rutten

    “When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.” 
    ― Thich Nhat Hanh

    “Sometimes it is better not to talk about art by using the word “art”. If we just act with awareness and integrity, our art will flower, and we don’t have to talk about it at all.” 
    ― Thich Nhat Hanh

    “It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.” 
    ― Vincent Willem van Gogh

    Pure ……  crystalline …….  perception  …………. !

  • Konrad Rutten

    “You only live twice: 
    Once when you’re born 
    And once when you look death in the face.” 
    ― Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice
    I have a different spin on this, you can be born more than once; in part it has to do with facing death, but more broadly facing the unknown; as Socrates said, 

    “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

  • Katya Moorman

    Hi- I just discovered your site & this was the perfect thing to read! After really managing my twitter/fb/email twitch over the weekend, I reverted to habit this morning and checked my email 1st thing…only to get an email about a potential opportunity that left me distracted the rest of the day. I’m going to try to take your advice and wait on letting in other’s thoughts etc Thanks for the excellent post!

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Chris, great article.

    Where did you get the fact about optical processes using 1/3 of the brains energy? That fact would be very useful for a class I teach but google searches only returned links to your blog. -Thank You

  • Julia

    This is such excellent advice, Chris. It reminds me of a passage I read by Thich Nhat Hanh awhile back. 

    “…what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. …

    How can you remember to smile when you wake up? You might hang a reminder – such as a branch, a leaf, a painting, or some inspiring words – in your window or from the ceiling above your bed, so that you notice it when you wake up.”  (Peace in Every Step)

    Slightly different message – more about peace than goals/success. I believe both of you have it right, and this is the way I’ll be starting my days from now on.

  • Raina Kropp

    Every year I map out what’s important to me on a simple sheet of paper.
    It includes:
    The people I want to stay connected with and who are important to me
    The books I want to read
    The places I want to travel to
    The new things I want to learn
    The causes I want to support
    And general goals I have (new home, new skill, publish a book etc.)

    I illustrate it with doodles and add to it all the time.  I have it posted on the wall next to my bed.  It’s the first thing I see every morning when I wake up and the last thing I see every night before I go to sleep.

    It reminds me about what’s important and helps me re-calibrate when I get off track and forget.  It also makes me happy when I can see I have made progress.

    This is how I set my plate :)

    • Wendy Pitts Reeves

       I love this, Raina. Thanks for sharing it! :)

  • lynn

    LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT and so need to do it!  Thanks for the great advice and I cannot wait to start.

  • Website Design Chicago

    Thinking about it is scary if the influence is really that great.  Look how many people (especially in the traditional business world) the first thing they do is read the newspaper or go online…great post!

  • John Davy

    Taking time to smell the roses as you go past is rarely a waste of time. Keeping in focus and avoiding distraction is tricky for most. email and twitter can send you of on all sorts of tangents with a minimum of effort. Nice one..

  • S Sheehan

    Well this certainly hits home!

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  • Philip Strange

    What a great observation that will change my daily routine from now on. For some reason I plan my day while I shower. But once I started a home office, and had access to email on my phone, that changed. And I became reactive to the day before thinking about what I wanted to do with it.
    That chanegs tomorrow. Thanks Chris.