For some people, when the alarm clock goes off in the morning they undergo Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's five-stage process of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Stage 1: Denial
Can it really be morning already? I just fell asleep an hour ago! I must have set the alarm wrong. This can’t be happening…

Stage 2: Anger
I didn't sleep all night! I hate my job. I hate my boss. I hate this city. I hate my life! Why do I have to work for a living? Why can’t I just manage someone’s stock portfolio?

Stage 3: Bargaining
If I just get through today without pain, I promise to start dieting and exercising and go to sleep before 1 AM….

Stage 4: Depression
I can’t take this anymore. What's the point anyway? Why is life so unfair?

Stage 5: Acceptance
Okay, calm down. I’ll take a shower. I’ll feel better. Get a grip! I can handle this.

I get dressed, resigned to the reality of a new day. I get into the car and set my mind in gear. Here we go again. Just 278 days to my summer vacation. Hang in there!

No wonder this daily routine gets us down and makes us tense, irritable and anxious. How can we shake off this inner turmoil and struggle and get out of this spiral?

The key attitude to winning this inner dialogue with our inner critical voice is to come to the realization that we can handle whatever challenge is sent to us. That is the attitude that is adopted by those with healthy self-esteem.

A couple of years ago I was going through a rough patch, feeling sorry for myself, playing the victim and seeking sympathy. I felt stuck in a rut and was unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A close friend of mine wouldn’t have it.

He said, “Do you know when you will come out of this? When you want to.”

I resisted. “It’s not my fault. It’s these circumstances that are beyond my control that are getting me down.”

I eventually realized I was wrong. Circumstances are neutral. How I react to them is up to me.

Circumstances are neutral. How I react to them is up to me.

We're used to blaming others for our situation. “You made me angry. You hurt my feelings. You put me down.” The comment or situation is what it is. It is my reaction to it which is causing me to go into emotional turmoil. My reaction is a matter of habit and can be unlearned.

Instead of going through the daily “I hate the world, and life’s not fair” syndrome, I need to change my attitude. And my attitude is a matter of choice. Sure I’m exhausted and drained. Everyone is. Still, I must remember my life's purpose, to get out of bed in order to keep growing and developing into the person that I am supposed to become. This takes emotional stamina. I have to proactively place my mind in a positive place.

Instead of the morning alarm clock getting me down, I could choose to hear the alarm as a personal challenge: you can do this! You can take charge of your life. Just rise to the challenge. You can make decisions today that will change your life for the better. You can turn your life into an adventure. So get your act together, and work “with” the world instead of “against” it.

Waking Up

If you opened your eyes this morning, that means that God wanted you to. Many people in the midst of the pandemic did not. If God wants you to be here, then your waking is the ultimate vote of confidence. God has reactivated your soul because He feels that you can achieve something today. If God believes in you, then you should believe in yourself.

So a good way to get motivated in the morning is to say a little personal prayer after the alarm goes off. “Thank you God for giving me a new day, a new opportunity to enjoy life and do my thing.” Those are, in effect, the first words a Jew says in the morning, “Modeh Ani Lefanecha - I gratefully thank You God, O Living and Eternal King, for restoring my soul to me this morning; abundant is Your faithfulness.” “Abundant is Your faithfulness” seems to suggests that God is the One Who has faith. Aren’t we the ones who are supposed to have faith in God? Who does God have faith in?

The answer is that God has faith in… YOU! He proved it by restoring your life force, your soul, to you this morning. He did so because He has confidence in you that you have the potential to accomplish great things today.

When you start your day with this type of personal gratitude prayer, you put yourself in a positive frame of mind and start your day with enthusiasm and positive energy.

This is not just another mind game. Imagine, for instance, a man who is terminally ill. He is told that he only has a few months left to live. He puts his affairs in order, goes through a painful course of treatment and prepares for the end. After a few months the doctors are astonished at his test results and tell him that he will survive. How does he feel at that moment? Like the happiest man alive! He is going to live! He floats home smelling every flower, breathing with gusto and appreciating every mundane moment as an incredible gift.

What does he have that you and I don’t have? He has life and we have life. The difference lies only in his attitude, in his appreciation of life. He appreciates every breath, every sound, every flower. We don’t. We have become desensitized to the wonder that is life. We take it for granted.

In order for us to maintain a sense of awe and appreciation for life, and to prevent desensitization, let’s all start a personal growth diary and write down five things that are going right in your life. And every day, I invite you to read the diary, and add one new thing that happened that day for which you have gratitude.

Perhaps that is one of the messages of the pandemic. Appreciate life! Our lives would take on new meaning. We could literally appreciate every time we opened our eyes in the morning as a sweet new opportunity to recreate ourselves.