I made my bed this morning. And that’s rare. Unfortunately.
As I straightened out the blankets, tucked the sheets just so and fluffed my pillows, I shook off last night’s sleep and my constant resistance to being a morning person. This tiny task had a big benefit: It woke me up to the day, to the possibilities ahead.
I feed and walk the dogs every morning. I brush my teeth and take a shower. Those are all things I have to do. None of it gives me the same feeling of accomplishment as when I look at my bed made to picture-perfection.
I found my bed-making inspiration from a Navy SEAL commander’s commencement address that went viral this week. He sounded a lot like my father, who taught me how to make a bed.
Before I could even walk, my daddy was perfecting my crib sheets. His mama was once a maid at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Virginia, where making beds was part of her job, but she knew the importance of making a bed way before then.
“That’s how we were raised,” my dad says. “To take pride in your things, to make your bed, to know those four corners” of the sheets. “Making your bed is the start to your day. It can change your attitude, and when you come home, it’s there to welcome you.”
I never realized how right he was until this morning, when I took to heart that Navy SEAL’s speech. It’s graduation season, and everyone from Michelle Obama and Janet Yellen to Sandra Bullock and P. Diddy has given guidance to the classes of 2014, our future leaders.
Obama told graduating seniors in Topeka to open their hearts and minds, speak up for what is right and choose a better history. Bullock reinforced the importance of not getting caught up in who likes you. “If someone doesn’t want to play with you, it’s OK. It’s OK,” she said in New Orleans. “Not everyone is going to love us. Go find someone who does want to play with you and who appreciates what you have to offer.”
Diddy sent a message at Howard University: “You have to be honest with yourself. You have to tell yourself the truth. You have to tell yourself the truth about what it’s going to take for you to be successful. It doesn’t come easy. You’re going to have to go out there and get it.”
Such words of encouragement inspire not just graduates but everyone. We are always graduating to new levels of living and looking to be better.
But this year’s most important advice came from U.S. Navy Admiral William H. McRaven: If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“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,” he told University of Texas graduates last weekend.
“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.”
Already, the YouTube video of that speech has a half a million views. McRaven shared a lot of important lessons about being your very best in the darkest moments and measuring people by the size of their hearts. But I saw his speech, remembered what my dad taught me and I made my bed.
Today has been a good day. And it started with me tucking in the four corners of my sheets.