Navy SEAL says make bed to change the world

As I stripped sheets from the bed this morning and headed to the washer, recently-heard remarks by Admiral William H. McRaven came to mind. Sharing his 36 years of experience as a Navy SEAL at a university commencement, he gave graduates ten pieces of advice for changing the world.


The very first one…


If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.



All those years ago, on his very first morning in basic SEAL training, his bed was inspected by instructors—Vietnam veterans looking to see if his corners were square, covers pulled tight, pillow centered under the headboard, and extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the bed.



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.



Benefits of making the bed:

  • accomplishes the first task of the day
  • provides a small sense of pride
  • encourages you to do another task and another… until at the end of the day you have accomplished much
  • reinforces 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.



I wonder if my parents knew—all those years ago—the impact our house rules might have on the world…



Making the bed was a non-negotiable in our family. A mundane task expected to be performed before heading off to school—or play.



I’ve noticed here in Blogland that the concept of a daily bed-making is considered “outdated” by many young adults, so I can only wonder how Admiral McRaven’s tried-and-true advice was received by the graduating class of 8,000 students…



I’m curious how it’s received by you.


Is making your bed

  • a daily habit?
  • an occasional “before company comes” routine?
  • a waste of time?
  • the first step toward changing the world?



For me, it’s a long-held daily habit.


As my feet hit the ground in the morning, I’m usually straightening the covers. When I return to my room after breakfast, I love seeing an already-made bed. And when I come home at night after a busy day, my bed stands welcoming—inviting me to relax, to mentally replay the successes of the day… or to rest my weary head and try again tomorrow.



Click the picture to read “A Tray of Tranquility”

I’m joining Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound. Join me?


  1. Odd. I can’t imagine leaving the house without having a bed made! That is one – and sometimes the only one – task that is accomplished each morning. My better half has even joined the “club,” and he is known to be the bedmaker at times.:-) It is such a good sight at night when we are in need of a welcoming spot. xo Nellie

  2. For many years I have made up my bed practically the second I get up. Little did I realize that I was developing habits that would endear me to the military!

  3. it is the first thing I do each morning! And as I drop pillows to the floor to pull covers up, my husband hears me, and comes to help finish his side (even though I assure him he need not). Funny, because he says when I go out of town with my sisters, he leaves the bed unmade. 🙂

  4. I make my bed every single day. I had surgery and the doctor restricted most activity for 8 weeks, including making the bed. My dear husband, knowing how much it drove me crazy to have it unmade, made sure it was made before he went to work every morning. It doesn’t matter how lazy I want my day, the bed always needs to be made. I have friends who think it is a waste of time. I may send this to them. 🙂 I would love to think that it could change the world!

  5. I always make our bed first thing in the morning. Before coffee, before starting my day. It brings order and peace into the room and into my day. I love the bedrooms. Yours especially.

  6. I definitely make my bed everyday. Being married to a former Air Force man, tucked corners are a must! I do love making my bed as it gives me pleasure to see it “dressed up.” It’s a good start to a great day!

  7. Oh boy, I am embarrassed and convicted! I don’t make my bed, ever! Does pulling the sheet and comforter up and smoothing it out count? I don’t want to get into a messy bed but I also don’t want to put the quilt and all the pillows in place either! I do get the benefits of the discipline though. Great post!