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The Importance of a Morning Routine with Brian Pennie

Author and ex-heroin addict Brian Pennie shares his story on why having a morning routine was instrumental to his recovery.

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Brian Pennie

Brian Pennie is the author of 'Bonus Time', a memoir about his fifteen-year struggle with heroin addiction. Since overcoming his demons, Brian now shares his story worldwide with his work as a motivational speaker, all whilst attaining a PhD at Trinity College Dublin.

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May 18, 2020

Adrian: Every time I see your articles in our submissions box, Brian, my eyes light up. Even if I'm finished for the day, I can't help but click onto your piece and give it a read. Your stories are captivating and each one appears to contain lessons gleaned from places of real hardship. Could you tell us a little bit about your backstory and how you got to where you are today?

Brian: I am an author, speaker, PhD candidate, university lecturer, life-change strategist, and the happiest person I know. My life used to be very different, however. Driven by childhood trauma, I spent most of my life in addiction, including 15 years as a chronic heroin addict.

Adrian: Wow, 15 years? That must have been awful. How did you find your way out of such a dark place as that?

Brian: I was 35 years old before I broke free from addiction, and it all came crashing down in an instant. Out of options and out of time, I had a choice: stop taking drugs and live, or keep taking drugs and die. I decided to live, and in August 2013 - my first attempt to get clean - I experienced not only the most painful night of my life, but also the most important.

Addiction nearly killed me, but on a fateful day in August, I received a gift. Call it what you will: a perspective shift, an awakening, or simply dumb luck — that’s not important – what matters, is that it completely changed the course of my life.

Adrian: That's incredible. Decided to live, I love that. When we met in Barcelona, you spoke quite a lot about the importance of having a morning routine (trying and failing to get me out for a run at 7am - my bad). Can you tell me some more about how routines have shaped your way of life?

Brian: Morning routines have literally changed how I live my life. I used to dive out of bed, devoid of intention, and blindly launch into the day.The new me is very different. In the last year alone, I’ve built a highly successful speaking career, published several academic papers, and I’ve just finished my first book, all whilst doing a PhD. I put much of this down to my morning routine, which consists of meditation, affirmations, visualisation, inner-child work, and gratitude practice

As a result of my routine, I am full of energy. I have clarity around my goals. I stay focused on those goals. And I take action every day. It is the primary reason how I stay on top of my game.

Adrian: Gotcha. I suppose the things we do first thing in the morning really do set the stage for how we live the rest of our day. It sounds like you do quite a lot with your mornings these days. The thing is, a lot of people claim that they simply 'don't have time' for tasks like meditation and visualisation. What advice would you give to those people?

Brian: To me, a morning routine is a no-brainer, but I always hear the same excuse — I don’t have time. The fact is, however, a morning routine gives you energy, intention, and focus - the essence of saving time, so this excuse doesn’t cut it.My routine takes me 14 minutes every morning, and it doesn’t take time, it makes time.

Adrian: I totally agree. I suppose having a clearer space of mind as a result of that morning routine also creates time in a sense, because you're less distracted throughout the day. I have a question. What's the number one action you think should be implemented into every morning routine and why?

Brian: That's easy. For me, self-awareness provides the foundations from what all else stands, so it's got to be some form of meditation to help you build that.

Self-awareness can be harnessed in other ways, of course, such as journaling, but I think a regular meditation practice is crucial as it enhances everything else by helping you to focus, pay attention, and acquire a more present mindset. Meditation cues you to be more present and aware throughout the day.

Further Reading
How to Radically Improve Your Life
With just three words.
June 6, 2020
Six Habits of Deeply Miserable People
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June 3, 2020