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We have been asked to stay at home to save lives and protect our NHS. The loss of control can be unsettling. The isolation and social distancing that is necessary for this pandemic to be stopped can often leave us with a detached feeling, and it’s easy to forget how our small actions are making a big difference.
Being asked to do something small, but that has a huge effect on the world reminded me of a book I read a few years ago, Make Your Bed, by Admiral William H. McRaven.
After his speech to the 2014 University of Texas graduating class went viral, getting over 10 million views, McRaven was inundated by people asking for more stories of his life and his perspective on the things that really matter, so, he wrote a small book covering the elements in his speech.
It focuses on the 10 Navy seal lessons he learnt during his training; discipline, honour, and courage are evident throughout, but one of the simplest messages he delivers we can all do every day, make our bed.
The book begins “If you want to change the world, start by making your bed”.
This simple task (that was inspected every day as part of his training) meant he would achieve at least one thing before lunchtime. He would start the day by completing a task, if his day was going badly it would end well in a nicely made bed, so he could start afresh in the morning.
Although the bed was inspected as part of his training, it was not an opportunity for him to gain praise “it was just expected of me… doing it right was important, it demonstrated my discipline, … and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task” writes McRaven.
As we form new daily routines and look to find the motivation to keep working, keep listening to the government and staying at home, it is important that we keep recognising the small acts we are completing and the impact it could have on the world.
He continues “Life is hard. Sometimes there is little you can do to affect the outcome of your day, search for something that can give you solace, that motivates you to begin your day, a sense of pride in an often ugly world.
Daily life needs the same sense of structure. Sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give you the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right. If you want to change your life and maybe the world, start off by making your bed”.
If you’re looking for a motivational book to read, I’d definitely recommend you take a look: