A blog for Catholic men that seeks to encourage virtue, the pursuit of holiness and the art of true masculinity.
The First Battle of the Day
August 17, 2013
First thing in the morning, we are faced with a battle. Our alarm goes off, and we have a choice—we can either hit snooze or get out of bed immediately. I have a confession to make: For most of my life, I have hit the snooze button and dozed off again. Sometimes I have even done this more than once.
The irony is, I almost always regret my laziness. When I oversleep, my head feels like it is filled with cement, my eyelids feel as though they are made of lead, and my thoughts are sluggish. It takes a long time to fully shake the feeling of drowsiness, and in many ways, my day is off to a bad start.
The heroic minute
In his book The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva addressed this very thing, recommending immediate rising as an excellent mortification.
“The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and … up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish.”
Inspired by St. Josemaria, I have recently been trying to break the habit of hitting snooze and attempting to replace it with the new habit of waking early—-way earlier than I ever have before. While I still fail sometimes, I am rising immediately more and more frequently. And it feels great.
How to do it
Rising instantly sounds easy, but if that were true, we would all do it and there would be no such thing as a snooze button. Here are three suggestions from my own experience that may help you.
1. Pray about it – It may sound silly to pray about waking up in the morning, but nothing is too small to bring to Our Lord. Our wills are weak, and we need graces to do even the smallest good act. I find that when I say a simple prayer asking for the graces to overcome my laziness, and also make a firm resolution, I can almost always get up immediately the next day.
2. Don’t argue with yourself – When I fail to rise immediately, it’s almost always because I rationalize a few more minutes of sleep. “Five more minutes and I will get up,” I promise myself. And guess what—five minutes later, I am saying the same thing.
Even the smallest delay, the smallest rationalization can mean you end up sleeping way longer than you intended. Give yourself no quarter.
3. Move your alarm – Where is your alarm in the room? This can make a big difference. If it’s on the other side of the room and you have to get up to shut it off, you are far more likely to get up right away. I have actually found the opposite to be true, though. My alarm is right next to my head. When it goes off in the morning, it is loud enough to force me wide awake. When it was across the room, it wasn’t loud enough to make me wake immediately.
You may be reading this and laughing at my laziness. Perhaps you are far more disciplined than me and you jump out of bed immediately. But maybe you have been hitting snooze, and like me, you regret it. Try the suggestions above and see if they don’t help.
I assure you, if you win the first battle of the day, you won’t regret it. You will be energized and you will find your will strengthened for the other tough choices with which you are faced throughout the day.
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