6: Five Minutes a Day

6: Five Minutes a Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Five Minutes a Day

You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.

~Wayne W. Dyer

I could hear hesitation in my assistant Felecia’s voice. “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

“I don’t have to answer it. But fire away.” It was my standard reply but served to break the tension and make her smile.

“Do you have another job offer?”

“What? I wish! Why?”

Felecia looked me straight in the eyes. “Because you are so much nicer to be around this week. Not that you aren’t always pleasant, but you know what I’m trying to say. You seem… happier, maybe? Something’s changed. And I figured that you’d either gotten a new job or met a guy….”

I cut her off. “And I wouldn’t have told you about him?”

“You don’t have to tell me, but…”

I asked, “You’d like to know my secret?”


I motioned for her to close my office door. No need to share this with the world.

Observant, she had noticed the difference yoga had made in my life. When I had started, she mentioned that on yoga days I listened better and it took much more to fluster me.

“Like you noticed, days that I do yoga I find myself more centered, more grounded. So, last week in the class that I almost didn’t take because of that huge deadline…”

Felecia nodded. Like a true New York native, she motioned for me to get to the point.

“Anita, my yogi, saw our stressed-out faces. She told us that one of the best things we could do would be to go into the office five minutes earlier than normal and use that time to do personal things, stuff just for us. Like, sip a green tea and meditate a bit. Or allow yourself to plan a getaway: write down somewhere you’d like to go to for half a day even. Perhaps a cute town on the Hudson or a museum you’ve been ‘meaning to take your family to’ or an art exhibit before it closes. And write down three things you’re grateful for.”

I could see from Felecia’s expressive face that she was now clearly on the same skeptical page I had been.

I continued, “I know, right? That advice sounded easy, but everything seemed simple coming from Anita’s lips. She’s a yogi, for heaven’s sake. Anita said deadlines work and suggested we do it before our next class. Get to the office five minutes earlier and before turning on your computer, checking e-mail or anything, give yourself those minutes. If you start your day this way, then the rest of the day your subconscious can be thinking about it and working for you.” I shrugged. “Anita said it works.”

A quick study, Felecia summed up, “That’s all this big change is? Do something for yourself for five minutes before starting work?”

I nodded. “Well, in other parts of the country they might take fifteen, but here in New York City we pride ourselves on being more efficient. Seriously, anywhere in the world, if you give yourselves even that little bit of time, the results can be huge. I didn’t even think it was working, but you caught it.”

“Of course. I’m good.” Felecia added a quick, “Thanks,” and left.

I went over to my secret chocolate stash, pulled out M&Ms and walked to Felecia’s cubicle. I knocked to get her attention.

“Hey! Here you go,” and threw her the bag. “Chocolate is always another option.”

Noticing her daughter’s picture displayed in her office, I added, “Please don’t take this the wrong way. Try the five minutes a day thing to be a good example for your daughter. It’s like that stupid airline warning about putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others.”

When I realized what I had said, I added, “Stupid, maybe, but it saves your life in an emergency. Let’s not wait for that.”

“See?” Felecia shook her head. “You’re sounding all new-agey.”

“Don’t worry,” I added, “it doesn’t last forever. I’ll be back to my old self in no time.”

Knowing that Felecia had picked up on the change motivated me to keeping doing it. It took effort. I did it every day and I started to see differences: I stood up for myself more. I focused on changes I wanted to make, breaking them into smaller pieces. It worked, the days I did it. I gained momentum. Surprisingly, it’s sometimes the smallest steps that lead to the biggest changes.

~JC Sullivan

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