Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Miniature Entry: Advice That Made a Difference

My favorite quote by the late Maya Angelou isn't from one of her poems, and in fact there's not even a trace of it (that I can find) online.

It came from an answer to a college student's question about changing the world. She told the student that if you want to change the world, start by making your bed every day.

Why?

Because if you haven't got sufficient will and dedication to do that one simple thing, you might want to reconsider whether you have what it takes to reach your more ambitious goals.

You don't have to agree with her about this. But I do. And it's one of the only pieces of Advice from a Sage Thinker that has made any damn difference in what I do with my day.

24 comments:

Deb said...

Crap. I'd better go make my bed.

Flippancy aside, speaking as a parent, it's a goal of mine to make a change in how I handle these simple matters of daily tidiness so that I can set an example of dedication and willpower for my child.

Emma Anderson said...

Interesting concept. On one hand it makes sense but motivation seems more complex than that. Noodling on it.

Side note- it was a pleasure to meet and chat with you this past weekend. It was a blast and you are a hoot!

Vanessa said...

Psychology Today has an article talking about the link between making your bed and happiness: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-candy/201208/make-your-bed-change-your-life

I saw Patti Smith give a commencement speech a few years ago. Her advice "take care of your teeth." Basically, invest in your physical and creative self. The more you spend money fixing broken things, the better you'll feel (hey! I have a nice place now!) and the more money you'll save because stuff is working right.

Make your bed and brush your teeth, people!

Pretty Knitty said...

I like to make the bed. It's difficult if there's still somebody sleeping in it, though...

Maya Angelou gave some good advice, to be sure.

Kris said...

My momma gave me this advice many years ago. "she also said it seems to make the day start out right". with one job done,

Unknown said...

I think her point isn't so much about bed making as it is about getting up and doing something useful. It reminds me of the Zen koan:
Student: Master, what is the meaning of life?
Master: Do the dishes.
The master's point is that life, and its meaning, happens as we go about taking care of our lives.

Anonymous said...

I also heard speak once, and she said that when she encounters someone walking down the street, she always said, "Good morning!" That was a rule with her, that she would always greet people. She said that every person was worthy of a greeting, every human worthy of interaction. She said that more than once people have come up to her saying they were contemplating suicide, even doing it that day, but that her simple words kept them from doing it. They didn't even know who she was, but when a stranger says good morning, there's suddenly a reason to stay in the world and be connected with others. Wise woman. We'll miss her. --Elizabeth

krayolakris said...

An amazing woman!

Caroline said...

Awesome point, and one I wish I could convey to my teenager...

Sheri said...

My favorite Maya quote is.... When someone shows you who they are, believe them!

Truth!

45th Parallel Quilter said...

I make my bed every single day ... might not to much else that day but the bed is ALWAYS made. LOVE the quote about believing someone when they show you who they are ... SO true!

Diane said...

I had always thought my mom was nuts on must. make. bed. However, it does make a nice, neat start to the day. Granted, I rarely take the time to make the bed before leaving for work in the morning, so often make it when I get home. Besides, it gives me the chance to properly distribute the blankets before I have to fight for them later!

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

The world loses another of its most majestic citizens. Self-discipline is the hardest and yet once we master it, the other pieces of life fall into place-sometimes neatly !~!

I have for years taken her advice and greeted people as I walk past them in the market or on the street. Amazing what a change can be wrought over someone when exposed to simple courtesy and interaction. Maya is a wise wise soul and the world is lessened with her passing. I, as many others, will miss Ms Maya as I make my bed every morning.

Namaste, wondrous woman.

SamKD said...

Oh wow that was my favorite quote of hers too!

Emily said...

Well, I make the bed because I like getting into a made bed later. I think of it as being kind to myself.

Alas, I have never noticed that it helped me with anything else.

I wish I could be more like her.

kmkat said...

We sleep with duvets so making the bed takes roughly 3 seconds. Love it.

I am going to start greeting everyone I meet.

Anonymous said...

How sad that a great woman has gone on to her justified reward. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak many years ago and was instantly mesmerized by her voice, her message and her dignity. I've been a great admirer of hers ever since. Blessings on this beautiful person and her family. - Joe-in Wyoming

Donna Lee said...

bits of her poetry are stuck in my mirror and inspire me everyday. I am a bed maker but more for my own pleasure.

The morning greeting is a thing with me. Everyone I pass gets a smile and a greeting. I work in a community mental health center. I believe EVERYONE deserves to be greeted with respect and a smile.

Michelle said...

Apparently she influenced the mighty as well as the unknown; "The following commencement address was given last week to the graduates of the University of Texas by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven. McRaven is the commander of U.S. Special Operations and oversaw the mission that killed Osama bin Laden."

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/05/24/manvotional-want-to-change-the-world-start-by-making-your-bed/

Anonymous said...

It's better not to make your bed in the morning. Leave it open to dry out and let the critters who depend on your warm, moist sheets dry out and die.
If at all possible let your blanket drape over the footboard of the bed for the same reason.
Make your bed when you come home before you get into it1

Restlessmoon said...

I do make my bed and my dog unmakes it when I leave for the day.

My fav quote of some sort from the great Maya was Gayle King recalling that when Gayle's mom had passed, Maya had called her and asked "how's your heart" So the next time I find myself in that situation, I will ask just that question also.

umbuddy said...

Love all your comments! I always make my bed, much to my hubby's and son's annoyance. My wise father taught me that, as well as washing the dishes, which we did every day for my mom. I also greet everone with smiles, "hellos" and hugs. My friend, Yaa, will not start her day without a hug and a smile from me. Maya was wise about life and people-sometimes we greet angels...

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