I like making my bed in the morning. I think it makes a good start to my day. I like hospital corners and sheets stretched tight enough to bounce a quarter. I’ve been chasing that elusive dream – bouncing the quarter, that is –since I started Army Boot Camp 31 years ago this week.
Admiral Bill McRaven agrees.
Not surprisingly considering he’s a retired Navy SEAL and former head of the U.S. Special Operations Command which included SEAL Team Six. He shared his reasons why he likes making his bed last year when he spoke to the graduating class of his Alma Mater the University of Texas:
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
“And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Alan Alda doesn’t care about the bouncing a quarter.
Actually, he loves the idea. “It’s utter simplicity,” he said last week while speaking to the 2015 graduating class of Carnegie Mellon University. “If you can start off a day with a little discipline like that, there’s no telling what you can accomplish when the hard stuff comes your way.”
Though he loves the idea, the man who made us laugh as Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H says it’s not for him:
“The problem is I can’t really give you that advice myself, because I don’t make my bed every day. I do, I unscramble the covers, and I pull them up to the pillow so it looks sort of neat. But I don’t make it, you know, all so tight that you can bounce a quarter on it, the way the admiral does.”
Two contrasting thoughts…
Or are they?
Admiral McRaven preaches you can change the world by getting up a making your bed. It’s one of many small tasks when added together help us successfully navigating our way through the day. His disciplined approach helps. Many of us could benefit from this approach.
Alan Alda sees his rumpled up bed as a “little gift” to himself that delivers a “jolt of happiness hormones when [he] looks at it.” He likes it that way and it works for him. “The point is,” Alda reflects, “that there is no good or bad way to start the day. I don’t think. But I think you can learn to get the most out of your particular – your own brain, if you pay attention to how it works.”
Every person is different. Every brain is different. As we learn what works best for us, a process we continually refine over the years, we’re creating a life filled with many, many tiny little tasks, accomplishments, worries, joys, wonders, failures, excitements, heartbreaks, successes, concerns, etc. Combined together, all these ups and downs, we’ll discover truly changing the world, one task, one moment at a time.
So go make your bed.
Or rumple it up.
Have a great Monday. Thanks for letting me share!
p.s. Take 15 minutes today to learn how to make up a Army bunk, see a quarter bounce, or enjoy Alan Alda.