How making my bed every morning made me a more positive person

By Rachel Walman

(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Flickr)
(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Flickr)

At the start of vacation, my mom showed me a video that she saw on Facebook, saying it held great lessons for “kids my age.” Hesitantly intrigued, I watched it with her. The video was a commencement speech from the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin given by Admiral William H. McRaven.

McRaven began his speech by reminiscing about his days training to be a Navy SEAL. He spoke of the environment of stress and hardship that was to be expected with basic training ­– not unlike what we think of when life at college comes to mind. He then, pointed out a simple task that every cadet was made to do, every morning.

The Vietnam veterans, who were their instructors at the time, inspected their beds at the beginning of the day. Corners had to be square, covers pulled tight, pillow centered at the headboard, the extra blanket neatly folded at the foot of the bed. It had to be perfect. Since these men were aspiring to be tough SEALs, this task seemed entirely mundane and pointless at best.

McRaven then goes on to say how the wisdom of this task has been proven to him time and time again. “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. And 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 the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to 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. So if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Over the past week, what McRaven said has sunk in, and I began seriously thinking about how I go about my days here at the University of Massachusetts. As it is my first year at college, it took me a long time to really develop a routine for myself, especially in the mornings. Some days I would be rushing to class without a coffee, and others I would have time for a sit-down breakfast. Making my bed would not even cross my mind.

After hearing McRaven’s speech, I took it upon myself to attempt to create a morning schedule and see how it affected my attitude for the rest of the day. During the week long break, I made sure to wake up by 7:00 a.m., make my bed, have a balanced breakfast and consciously appreciate the beauty of the early morning. Over the course of the last few days, I can sincerely say that I’ve felt better about myself, made healthier choices about food and enjoyed my accomplishments – no matter how small – by the end of the day.

I encourage each and every one of you to make and stick to a routine and schedule. Truly, it’s the smallest of things that make the biggest difference in day to day life; it’s those small things that make the big things possible. If you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed, just tuck in the corners and straighten out the pillow.

Rachel Walman is can be reached at [email protected].