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Make Your Bed: Why The Little Things Have Big Impact

Start small, achieve big.
by Fiona Wiedmann | Sep 11 2018

Did you know there’s one simple morning task which can help you change your life? Here’s a hint: it isn’t hitting the snooze button for the fifth time in a row. This task is so important it even has its own day to celebrate it. September 11th is International Make Your Bed Day!

In his book, Make Your Bed, and in a commencement speech that went viral, William H. McRaven, an ex-Navy SEAL explains how this small task starts your day off right. You achieve something before you leave the house, which means you feel more productive from the get-go.

Refocus Your Priorities

Humans tend to focus on the big and significant moments in life, but much like making your bed daily, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of the little things and the impact they can have on the bigger picture.

Think of any notable event in your life. This was the outcome of all the small things that occurred before it. As McRaven writes, your entire character is ultimately determined by the smaller choices that you make daily.

Learn to Appreciate the Small Things

Remember: life isn’t an emergency. It’s better to slow down and have a contemplative approach. Being constantly distracted and busy will leave you with no time for quiet reflection—and will prevent you from enjoying the moment. Practicing mindfulness and patience daily will help you stay aware and focused.

John C. Maxwell, author of How Successful People Think wakes up every morning and looks at his schedule to see what learning opportunities are likely to present themselves. He then mentally primes himself to be on high alert, meaning he is more receptive to what goes on around him, and more open to learning from, and appreciating, the little things.

Trust in yourself, in your responses, and your input. There is no need to follow the crowd, or to be the loudest voice in the room. If you take a step back and think independently, you will find value in your contributions, no matter how small.

Get Grateful

Have you ever looked at those people who seem to be upbeat and appreciative of every little thing and wonder just how they do it? The great news is this behavior can be learned. By practicing gratefulness, you will find yourself focusing less on the negatives and stresses of life, and achieve a more balanced outlook. Perhaps the weather was lovely, or somebody smiled at you on the bus. Remember these moments by writing them down.

Keeping a gratitude journal will allow you to focus on the good in your day. Just a few bullet points about what you’re grateful for will help you to reframe your day.

Make Small Gestures

Think about the last time someone did something for you, went out of their way to help you, or complimented you. How did it make you feel?

Now, think about the last time you did something for someone else. Life is filled with relationships and it is easy to make them a more positive experience. There’s no need for daily grand gestures, but by focusing on small ones you can make a huge difference to someone’s day, and it’ll make you feel good, too.

Recognizing small details will help you achieve on a larger scale. As McRaven said, “If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

Why not give it a try? When you go to bed tonight, think of all the small, wonderful things that happened to you today.

And when you wake up, make your bed!

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