by Megan McDonough

At his commencement speech at the University of Texas, Admiral McRaven gave seemingly strange advice: Make your bed.

He said:

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.

What little thing did you do today that orients you in the right direction? This is important… really take that question in. Perhaps you smiled at a stranger, told someone you loved them, waited patiently at the busy coffee shop, or savored a piece of fruit.

It’s so easy to overlook the simple and mundane (like making the bed). Though these small actions seem meaningless, mindfully noticing them orients you towards wholebeing.

For more on mindfulness, check out Dr. Ryan Niemiec’s book Mindfulness and Character Strengths.

Every breath, every step, matters.


Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.

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