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Image / Editorial

‘Make Your Bed’: this empowering book could change your life (or at least your lockdown experience)


by Grace McGettigan
26th Oct 2020
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Finding it hard to get motivated? This bestselling book by retired Navy SEAL, William H McRaven, might provide the inspiration you need


With the entire country in lockdown again, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing control of your life. We can’t go anywhere or do anything without breaking government orders, and with so many people falling ill and/or dying from Covid-19, being productive around the house seems futile.

But, as William H McRaven said in his New York Times’ bestselling book, Make Your Bed, small tasks can mark the beginning of something great. Completing something as simple as making your bed in the morning can give you a small sense of achievement, which in turn can motivate you to do so much more.

Throughout 10 captivating chapters, McRaven shares the life-changing lessons he learned from 37 years in the US military. From handling periods of hardship and self-doubt, to the importance of friendship and helping those in need, the book is an empowering ‘how-to’ for changing your life and improving the world you live in.

He shares real-life anecdotes to inspire courage, determination and compassion, adding, “It matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation or your social status.

“Our struggles in this world are similar,” he said, “and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward — changing ourselves and the world around us — will apply equally to all.”

Make your bed speech and book

Make Your Bed

His inspiration for the book stems from a speech he gave at the University of Texas in 2014. Speaking to new graduates, McRaven listed 10 simple philosophies for a better world, and it is these same philosophies which form the basis of the book.

As the title suggests, it starts with the simple act of making your bed.

“Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed,” McRaven said. “If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centred just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack.

“It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

“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.”

Make Your Bed by William H McRaven is available in hardcopy, eBook and audiobook now.

Make your bed


Read more: Why alone-time is still important, even during a lockdown

Read more: 8 kids’ activities guaranteed to keep them busy for more than 5 minutes

Read more: How to turn your home into a gym without spending a cent

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