It may seem simple, but making your bed is quietly one of the most important daily rituals a person can have. I promise, it will change your life. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not. Those of you who already do it know exactly what I mean.
First and foremost, making your bed forces you to get out of it. That’s not necessarily a small feat, especially if you’re suffering from depression. Not only are you out of bed, but you can’t get back in. It’s a line of demarcation that officially starts your day.
More than that, though, it’s a ceremonial act of respect for oneself. It’s a deliberate measure of control that you can always take, even when the rest of your life is complete and utter chaos.
Do it. Every damn morning. It only takes a minute, but it will have a cascading effect that subtly improves everything else about the rest of your day, right up to the moment when you get to crawl back in to a well made bed at night.
When I think of all the truly successful people I’ve known in my life, the ones who really have their shit together, all of them — every last one — routinely make their beds every single morning. This is not a coincidence.
We are not so mysterious. If you want to get to know someone infinitely better, meet their parents for five minutes. We are attracted to people who were loved in the ways we were loved as children. We are attracted to people who are lacking in ways we understand.
–Drew Zandonella-Stannard, “What We Have Going for Us“
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
—George Saunders‘ convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013
I’d rather be a good person who makes people happy than a dick who wins a Nobel by 32.
–Olivia Wilde, from her advice on turning 30
Easily the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in awhile. The video says it all.
More brilliance from Karen, about dancing, but really, how to be an effective autodidact. The real lesson from her is about learning how to learn.:
People who watch me dance today sometimes assume I’ve been dancing for many years. I made this video so you could see the awkward body that started just one year ago.
Here’s my secret: I practiced everywhere. At bus stops. In line at the grocery store. At work — Using the mouse with my right hand and practicing drills with my left hand. You don’t have to train hardcore for years to become a dancer. But you must be willing to practice and you better be hungry.
This isn’t a story about dancing, though. It’s about having a dream and not knowing how to get there — but starting anyway. Maybe you’re a musician dreaming of writing an original song. You’re an entrepreneur dying to start your first venture. You’re an athlete but you just haven’t left the chair yet.
When you watch someone perform, you’re seeing them at the top of their game. When they score the winning point or sell their company for millions — you’re seeing them in their moment of glory. What you don’t see is the thousands of hours of preparation. You don’t see the self doubt, the lost sleep, the lonely nights spent working. You don’t see the moment they started. The moment they were just like you, wondering how they could ever be good.
…I’ve practiced about 500 hours so far, which isn’t much if you think about it. I’ve got a full-time job and I’m dancing only 1-2 hours a day. The real professionals are practicing 7, 10, 12 hours a day. You probably don’t have that much time to dance, so you’ve got to make the most of it.
Be smart about how you practice. Don’t just mindlessly dance the same moves over and over. Critique yourself and identify the things you need to work on. If you can coach yourself, you’ll learn much faster.
–Karen X Cheng, http://danceinayear.com/
Le bonheur n’est que une collection de petits plaisirs.
(Je me souviens de ce fait tous les jours le soleil brille ou que je vois les Alpes sur chemin de mon travail à Genève.)
Our minds have a depth of field, much like the lens on a camera. When we think about one thing, everything else becomes unclear or temporarily ‘forgotten’. To pay attention to a thing means we must ignore everything else, if only briefly. The more complex a thing is, the more uninterrupted attention is required.
Do the things that make you interesting.
There are many things vying for our attention, and while some of them are a good use of time, many of them are only keeping us from what we *should* be doing. Our time and headspace are the most valuable things we have, and what we can do with them is virtually unlimited. I am learning (or perhaps re-learning) that cutting out distractions can be more valuable than any to-do app or time in front of a screen. We need to spend less time looking to others for interesting things, and start spending more time doing the things that make us interesting. Perhaps you need to dedicate more time to that thing that got you where you are or that thing that will get you where you want to be.
–@ableparris, “Focus Means Ignoring“
How many people do you know that want the “simple” solution? It may not even work, but they prize simplicity over everything else. These are the kind of people who ask questions like, “What’s the ONE thing you’d recommend…”
HEY IDIOT. TOP PERFORMERS DON’T WANT TO KNOW “ONE” THING. THEY WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING.
–Ramit Sethi, “When Dumb People Want Nice Things”
It’s a little angry, but yes, this is totally a consistent factor in the people I admire, regardless of what field they are excellent in.
Write like a motherfucker would have to be my first bit of advice. What that means to me is that—as I say in the column—you really, really have to be a warrior and a motherfucker. And you have to be resilient and faithful. You can’t be a wimp. You can’t stand around bitching about how hard it is and how indignant you are that no one appreciates your work, about how no one will publish you, or how people at parties make you feel stupid, about how you’re really not only a waitress or whatever job you’ve taken, about how your parents don’t understand you, or any of the stuff I bitched about plenty myself. I don’t say this from a place of condemnation, but rather allegiance. You really have to buck the fuck up, do the work, and know that you’re probably going to have to do more work than you imagined you’d have to do to get to the place that you imagined as successful. And when you get there, you’ll see that “successful” feels less successful than you thought it would. Success in writing is about keeping the faith over a long, long stretch of time. This isn’t something you just do a little bit and then get a reward at the end of—it’s a life’s work.
I believe in that voice I trusted all along the way. I believe in writing as a calling. If you truly feel that calling in you, then listen to it and respect it, but don’t expect that anything is going to be given to you—you have to get it. That’s true of any art form; any artist will tell you that.
–Cheryl Strayed, on her advice for young writers
This is just brilliant life advice, even if you don’t care about writing. I’m a big fan of ‘writing like a motherfucker’ (and totally own this mug) but I love her further explanation of what this means.
And in case you don’t know who Cheryl Strayed is, she is the writer of the most amazing advice column, Dear Sugar. Dear Sugar is basically a combination of that warm mug of hot chocolate and freezing cold shower sometimes I find I need when I’m wrestling with life. Whether answering questions about fetishes or infidelity or student debt, Strayed consistently reminds me how the small questions that plague us are often the big ones in disguise–which is exactly what a good advice columnist does.
You can fake ‘smart’. You can fake ‘nice’.
But you can’t fake interesting.