Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the United States, already had a morning routine

Set your alarm clock at 5 a.m., start the day with a yoga session before work, drink lemon juice. This is what you read in a recent personal development book to improve your daily life. For you, that makes sense: after all, don’t we say that “the world belongs to those who get up early”? But did you know that this obsession with morning routines is not new?

In the United States, the morning routines date back to early thinkers, who believed that the early morning hours were the key to realizing the American Dream. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the nation, for example, already thought that his success was partly due to his waking up at 5 a.m. His 1793 autobiography describes his ritual: every day from 5 to 7 a.m., he “rose, washed and spoke to mighty Goodness”; then he devoted time to “prepare the business of the day and take the resolution of the day, continue the study in progress and have breakfast”.

From American optimism to assertiveness

These few lines are perhaps the trace of the first miracle morning never written in the history of the United States. What is certain is that they triggered an obsession with getting up early and everything that surrounds it. Because besides starting at dawn, Benjamin Franklin’s routine was inherently positive, leading to the idea that an enthusiastic attitude in the morning could only lead to a successful day.

Alongside this American optimism, the morning routines often focus on self-improvement: healthy breakfast, time for prayer or reflection, physical exercises. This was the case with the routine of John Quincy Adams, who before becoming president got up between 5 and 6 a.m. to bathe in a river and take a two-hour walk.

The morning is also a time when the whirlwind of life has not yet begun. We can then focus on our priorities. Thus, the author Toni Morrison explained that“writing before dawn started out as a necessity” when she had to take care of her children and juggle her work as a book publisher with her own creative projects.

In the XXand century, with the proliferation of tabloids, morning routine became more entrenched in American culture. Suddenly, a new national fix has developed, that of celebrity morning rituals. The readers wanted to know the beauty secrets of Marilyn Monroe or others to apply them.

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Then, in the second half of the century, with the emergence of personal development books, a new language took hold. Franklin’s positive thinking became “assertiveness,” and his habit of adopting “the resolution of the day” morphed into “quadrant planning” from guru Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Effective People. Today, the trend still has as its leitmotif the self care.

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