gaijinassbannerIt’s June or it’s November.  It’s sunny and windy or it’s rainy and cold. It’s eight thirty AM at Shibuya station or it’s nine AM near Ueno, or Kanda, or Shinagawa or Ikebukuro.  Whenever or where-ever, it’s all the same; Mornings in the Tokyo mega-metropolis generally suck.  People walking hurriedly, hunched against the cold, eyes peering dead-like down into their phones instead of ahead of them on the street.  Then someone, late for work, jogs past and this snaps them out of their zombie reverie and they too begin to jog after said person for no conscious reason at all; someone else is jogging so they should jog as well. This turns into three, four, five unrelated people all jogging together toward the station. Follow the herd.  Or else.

The train is absolutely packed to capacity.  More dead eyes lost in meaningless apps and “critical” pop-culture updates.  Old men groping women, in case you forgot this happens on the regular in Tokyo, and most of these women simply allowing it to transpire because, what’s the recourse? She’s packed so tightly into the train car that the other bodies around her are actually lifting her off the ground.  So, there she sits, levitating in that meat prison on the way to her job she hates while some jaded, self loathing father of three who teaches Junior High-school gropes her butt and rubs his boner all over her.


Perhaps the mind numbing repetition of it all has inoculated those who’ve lived here their whole lives and know no better.  The prison like gruel; rice and watery salt flavored soup with a pickle on the side, the irritating/meaningless chatter of “talento” on the TV just so they don’t feel alone,  the vomitous can of “Boss” coffee and the complete absence of hope are demoralizing.  These are more than enough to help everyone to thoroughly, completely and utterly just despise the sample of humanity they come in contact with, if not all day, then at least until lunch time.

What I present now are simply a few strategies and tactics I’ve collected and employ in-order to avoid committing homicidal slaughter on a massive scale during the morning hours.

1. Get up earlier than you need to.

Some people just quit reading.

I know.

But really, if you have to leave the house at 0730, why are you getting up at 0710?  This frantic dash around your apartment and the mad race to the station is getting you what? Another few minutes in bed? Here’s a tip: Go to bed earlier.  You can watch Game of Thrones or, more likely porn, later.  Go to sleep a bit earlier so you can wake up giving yourself lots of time to enjoy your morning.  It sets the stage for your whole day and starting out like a lunatic hurrying around means you have begun your day with no control, no accountability and no time for thought.  Be prepared for a shit morning or just get up earlier.  How much earlier?  It’s up to you but I like to leave to train at 0700-0715 so getting up at 0600 is necessary but 0550 is optimal; that extra 10 minutes is an easy psychological WIN that motivates me all day long.

2.Make your Bed

Your parents probably told you this, I know mine did, and I used to hate it. But, making one’s bed, before anything else goes on, is a great way to start the day with a step in a commanding, productive and positive direction.  It totally helps me relax.  As I get ready and come in and out of the bedroom during the morning, seeing my bed made is very relaxing.  Clutter creates stress and although there are some items I could do without in my bedroom, having the bed made really helps.

3. Listen to positive and soothing music.

So, you got up earlier today, willing to give that a try. Good for you.  The next step is to turn on some quality music.  The key word here is QUALITY.  No One Direction.  No Big Sean.  No EDM.  Quality.  Personally, for me it’s almost without exception classical.  This morning it was Mendelssohn string quartet No.2.  Yesterday, it was Vivaldi.  Other days it’s Bach: The Goldberg Variations. Whatever, as long as it’s relaxing and quality music.  The mood you set in the morning is critical and listening to Cradle of Filth isn’t a good idea. So, get your music on.  It’s the back drop for the rest of this.

4. Make YOUR morning beverage.

Your Music is playing, now on to the drink. What you drink first in the morning is critical.  If you pop open a sixth month old can of Boss coffee, be prepared for 100 yen results all day.  Whether it’s mineral water, green tea or coffee, take your morning beverage seriously and make it quality.  In my case, I brew fresh coffee every morning; sometimes Kaldi, sometimes Kona coffee, but always something fresh and I use 4 scoops.  In my coffee I add about 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil and a little milk.  This drink is both soothing and at the same time it’s rocket fuel.  By the end of this cup of coffee I’m fully mentally awake, aware and ready to get on with it.

5. Read something meaningful to warm up your mind

Here we are, back at quality.  Do not get on the internet. Just don’t. As soon as you move in that direction the abyss which is everything online will suck you in. Social Media of any type is completely off limits. Okay, you might be trying to read a very constructive, informative and highly under rated blog (see what I did there?) but inevitably you’ll end on watching Fail Army Videos or looking at pictures of how fat formerly hot celebrities have gotten.  Do not go on the computer or on your phone.  Follow the steps above and then sit down and open up a book.

Some more people just quit reading.

A book? Fuck that noise. Right?

But that right there is a reason it should be a book.  If you’ve followed the quality control parameters outlined thus far, you’ll not be reading something with statements like “Fuck that noise” contained within the pages.  Anything quality is fine but stay away from magazines, the newspaper, comics or anything remotely in that realm. Actually read a book.  Recently I have been reading “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca.  I just read one letter per morning, usually a few times over, and it forces me to start thinking instead of simply reacting.  Reading something which points you in the direction you want to go in for the day, even for just fifteen minutes while you enjoy that morning beverage, is a big step.

6. Workout in the morning

I know some of you don’t work out at all. That’s your first mistake. Working out, and I mean seriously committing and getting it done, is good for your health, makes you look better which makes you feel better and it’s far cheaper than a therapist.  These days, I do all my workouts in the morning.  Why?  Do I just like doing painful shit before other people are up? A little bit, yes. But more than that it’s because during my life I’ve learned the hard hard way that shit really happens. Sometimes you caused it but other times it blind sides you like a beer bottle in the hands of some skin head landing on your face.  The point is things can and will, I repeat can AND will, go wrong.  But even if your entire day is shit, even if she left you or they found you or you lost it or you tested positive for it or that bone isn’t totally healed or your insurance won’t cover it or they died and that’s it, at least you got your workout in; you did that and that was something productive that they can’t take away from you.

Some people really won’t be able to do this, but for most people it will boil down to priorities and excuses.  Just get those straightened out and get after it.  There are 24 hours in the day, if you can’t find one to train, that’s on you.

Get your morning dialed in and the rest of the day makes much more sense and you might not hate absolutely everyone all the time.  It’s working for me.