Make Your Bed: The Small Step to Big Change

By Greg Baer M.D.

June 30, 2017

In 2014 Naval Adm. William H. McRaven delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin. Among other things—and with some editing—he said:

“I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep, and always being cold, wet and miserable. It is six months of constant harassment by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL. But the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

“Of the ten most important lessons I learned in training was that if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. Every morning my instructors, all battle veterans, would first inspect your bed. It was a simple task—corners square, covers pulled tight, and pillow centered—but it had to be perfect.

“The wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. If you make your bed perfectly every morning it will give you a small sense of pride and encouragement that you can continue to do yet another perfect thing, and then another. 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.”

We all want to be gloriously happy and to contribute to the richness of the lives of the people around us. We want to make a real difference in the world. It starts by making our bed: remembering our purpose in life, letting go of a resentment, keeping a promise, being loving to just one person.

As we do these single right things, we begin and create magnificent days that coalesce into the lives we all want.

Make your bed.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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