Want tomorrow to be better? Do this tonight.

I just glanced through tonight’s broadcast TV listings–eight shows on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX during primetime. Three are gameshows. One is an awards show. The other four are dramas about murder, estrangement, and a missing person.  

Thursday night’s line-up features Law & Order, then Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Both series have been airing for 20+ seasons and routinely deal with murder and heinous crimes.

Millions of Americans will watch these shows and the news. Then head to bed. They will wake tomorrow feeling drained, fearful and pessimistic. 

Since I recently passed a milestone birthday, you could write me off as an old man muttering, “Get off my lawn.” Or you could grant me the grace that I have learned some things in my half a century. 

One is that our minds are dramatically impacted, positively or negatively, by what we watch and listen to. In other words, when we consume an entire evening of hate, crime, murder, and bad news, it impacts our sleep and the whole next day.

In fact, “according to sports psychologist Jim Fannin, the last 30 minutes of every waking day are recorded and replayed that night by our subconscious minds 15 to 17 times. This replay occurs five times more often than any other thought at any other time.” (The Positive Dog, p. 87)

So yes, how you start your day is important, but how you finish your day is CRITICAL. 

So if you want the feel better tomorrow, start tonight by doing these three things in your last 30 minutes:

  1. Read or listen to something positive and encouraging.
  2. Celebrate your successes from today. Identify one great thing about your day and enjoy it.
  3. Smile. I know it sounds weird, but before you drift off to sleep, simply smile.

During the height of the Covid pandemic, I would often replay a fun family experience as I went to sleep. There was so much anxiety in the air that simply thinking about our family going to Disney a few years prior, going on a hike, or enjoying the beach helped my mind settle so I could smile. 

And it led to a more hopeful tomorrow. 

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Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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