“One must become strong like a lion to arise in the morning to serve his Creator, for he should be the one who awakens the dawn” (SA 1:1). The way one gets up in the morning largely indicates her spiritual and emotional state and influences her functioning throughout the entire day. One who has purpose in life wakes up driven and filled with alacrity to face a new day. She usually wakes up early in the morning so she can accomplish more throughout the day. However, one who has lost her moral bearings and sense of mission has lost the reason for living and has no challenge that makes it worth getting up in the morning. She therefore feels fatigued and distressed in the mornings. Only when left with no choice does she finally wake up, late and sluggish, to another dull and despondent day. Nevertheless, if she were to bolster her faith and arise eagerly, vitality and joy would ignite her spirit, and she would be able to start her day invigorated.
The Aĥaronim recommend saying Moda Ani, “I thank You, living and eternal King, for You have returned my soul with compassion. Abundant is Your faithfulness” immediately upon waking up (Seder Ha-yom, aYHaYMB 1:8). Faith gives purpose to life. If God chooses to grant someone life, it means that her existence has great value. From that conviction, one can arise in the morning with enthusiasm and strength. The Sages state that one must wake up like a lion because a lion symbolizes one who has self-esteem and self-respect and uses that insight to courageously overcome all obstacles (see R. Naĥman of Breslov’s Likutei Halakhot ad loc.).