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
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Six Habits of Deeply Miserable People
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June 3, 2020