Morning Routines and Rituals

February 2012. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

When someone is having a bad day, we often say, "Seems like you got up on the wrong side of bed in the morning." That obviously implies there is a right side of the bed to get up on. And that implies that there must be a morning routine at least for which side of the bed to get up on!

There's a Judging-Perceiving facet from the MBTI® Step II inventory on the use of routines and schedules – it's called Scheduled-Spontaneous. Basically Scheduled people like and use them and Spontaneous people do not.

When Naomi Quenk and I were writing some materials on the MBTI Step II instrument, we had some particularly boring tasks associated with that writing. To make it more interesting, we began searching for quotations* to liven up our work. Here are some of what we came up with for this facet:


  • "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do ... play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." – Mark Twain
  • "It is not in novelty, but in habit that we find the greatest pleasure." – Raymond Radiguet


  • "Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." – Bernard Berenson
  • "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." – A.A. Milne

I've started asking my friends about their morning rituals and have found a lot of variety. Everyone seems to have one regardless of their Judging-Perceiving preferences, as you'll see from their types.

One of my ISTP friends says she begins each day with gratitudes ... for whatever she is grateful for in her life ... a grandchild ... the sunshine ... her dog ... oatmeal ... a poem. She wishes she had more of a morning ritual; she'd like to sit and read scripture for an hour. When she does that she likes it, but she rarely does it.

Another friend, an INTJ, has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy which leaves him feeling very fatigued and sometimes fuzzy headed. His morning ritual used to be meditating for an hour; he found it very centering and it brought clarity to his thinking for the rest of the day. With the chemo he is too tired to get up in time for the meditation before he has to go off to work. He feels in a fog all day. He is looking forward to getting back to his routine.

For some of my friends (ENFP, ENTJ, ESTJ, INFP, ENFJ), exercise is an important start to their day - running or swimming or walking the dog. That sort of mindless exercise allows for all sorts of thoughts to swirl in and out.

I have noticed a difference in the Judging-Perceiving exercise programs. The Judging types tend to do the same form of exercise and take the same paths on their runs/walks. The Perceiving types mix it up, often deciding at the last possible moment which exercise and which route.

Food can also serve as part of that morning ritual. One friend (INFP) tries to get nine cups of greens in every day and finds the whirr of her blender meditative as she adds greens to her morning smoothie.

Others (ESTJ, ESFJ, INTJ) report the comfort of eating the same foods to start each day – I won’t bore you with a description of those foods and the order they are eaten in.

That morning cup of coffee also can be a ritual, although one friend (INFP) insists hot water with a slice of lemon is much better than coffee as part of her ritual. And many include reading a newspaper (either on paper or on-line) in their ritual.

Something I'd like to add to my morning routine came my way from a spirituality class I recently took: "I step into this day. I step into this life. I step into this great mystery."

So what's your morning routine (or not!)??

*CAPT publishes these quotes in a hand-out entitled "Facet Sayings and Songs."