Untold millions of dollars are being spent on research to uncover the deeper reasons for human behavior.

A recently published finding refers to the first few minutes after we wake up as "the rudder of the day." This theory suggests that the thoughts going through our mind as soon as we awaken can determine our outlook and attitude for the rest of the day.

It suggests that we should not rush to listen to the news as soon as we wake up, where we are most likely to hear about tragedies that happened while we were asleep, how the economy is slowing down, interest rates going up, and any other bad news that the media finds to fill their bulletins.

If there is no bad news in the country where you live you can rest assured that they will look around the globe and sometimes even on different planets to find some bad news just to start you up in a negative way.

Instead, the researchers advise, wake up to some soft music, say a prayer and read some positive literature, thereby filling up the first ten minutes of your day with positive thoughts.

It is a shame that they had to spend so much money to reach this conclusion, as I could have told them this for free. Am I such a genius? Not really. Our sages worked this out thousands of years ago. They decided that the moment we open our eyes we should say a prayer called Modeh Ani which says, "I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great".

In other words our sages are telling us that the first thing we are to do immediately upon awaking is to thank G‑d for the fact that we woke up and appreciate the gift of life that we have been reinstated with.

Our sages were concerned that we might have a problem with lying in bed and reciting a prayer which has G‑d's name in it before we've washed and attended to our bodily needs. To solve this concern, they took G‑d's name out of the Modeh Ani prayer and refer to Him as "living and eternal King" so that there would be no reason for any delay and the prayer could be said immediately upon waking, without allowing any negative thoughts into our mind.

The idea of a positive beginning to the day is also very important when it comes to parenting. As a teacher, I was able to tell when children arrived at school what the beginning of the day had been like for them.

Watching the children settling into the classroom, I was able to distinctly envision two types of beginnings, typified by these two examples:

Scenario A: The alarm clock didn't work (or wasn't set?). Parents wake up late and jump out of bed in a great rush. Kids refuse to get out of bed. Movement is elicited only by a number of loud statements such as "We are running late!", "You'll miss the bus!" and "No pocket money today!" No time to eat a proper breakfast or to remember to pack a lunch. The school jacket and an important book may also be left behind.

With such a beginning you can imagine what the rest of the day will be like.

With a bit of forward planning this can be replaced by scenario B:

* Clothes, lunches, books, etc. are prepared the previous evening.

* Parents wake up fifteen minutes before it is time to wake the children.

* They sit on the child's bed and wake them up with a nice warm smile and a hug.

* The child opens his or her eyes and thanks G‑d for giving them the gift of life.

* The family eats a relaxed breakfast together.

* They go off to school.

With such a positive beginning to the day, the child is now ready to face the challenges of school and learn and grow to his or her full potential.

Try it — you'll like it!