At the risk of sounding childish or lazy (maybe both?) I’ll just be honest: I hate making my bed. Rather, I used to hate making my bed. I often thought, why should I bother? I’m just going to get right back into it later, and no one except me will see it.
But then I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and am now reading Better Than Before where she lives by this simple, yet difference-making task. She mentions it over and over, that it’s almost annoying. While writing The Happiness Project, Rubin explains in her research that making the bed was “the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over.” Can an act that takes less than three minutes really make that much of a difference in your life?
I’ve now made my bed for 26 days in a row (yes, I’m counting) and here’s what I’ve learned: Apparently, making your bed is something called a keystone habit. Keystone habits are those routines that spill over to other habits. According to Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, changing or cultivating keystone habits “helps other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.” A keystone habit is essentially a catalyst for other good habits.
Karen Miller, wife, mother, Zen priest, and author of “Hand Wash Cold” and “Momma Zen”, explains: “the state of your bed is the state of your head.” I think she is on to something. When I leave my bedroom with the duvet in the floor and pillows scattered all over the place, I leave the bedroom feeling defeated. I’m groggy and reluctant to get the day started.
But when I look at my freshly made bed, I have to admit it: I smile a little. I feel just a bit more motivated. Productive, even. I throw back the curtains, let a little sunshine in and I feel good. I leave the room feeling put together and I’m ready to tackle the day. Because making my bed is one of the first things I do in the morning, I start the day feeling efficient, productive, and disciplined.
It’s simple, making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference. Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. You quit losing socks. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. Like Rubin says, a lot, outer order contributes to inner calm.
Also, sticking to any resolution – no matter what it is – brings satisfaction. You’ve decided to make some change, and you’ve stuck to it. To echo Duhigg again, you’ve created a chain reaction. You now have the motivation to make sure the clothes are off the floor and you even want your dresser to be neat and tidy because your floor and bed are tidy.
What about you? Does making your bed – or not making your bed – contribute in a small way to your happiness? Let me know!