Make Your Bed

“Life is pretty tough… you’re born, go to school, get a job, at some point you get sick, pay taxes, and maybe laugh and have some fun before dying”

Do something. Making your bed is a metaphor. What I mean is when you are down and out, lollygagging around and paralyzed with anxiety and fear, do something, anything to get going. After making a meal, I immediately wash the dishes. It feels good to accomplish something. To clean up a mess. Navy psychologists reduced SEAL drop-out rates by a third by introducing the idea of setting a tactical goal … “Get to the beach.” When your life is in chaos, setting a clear and short-term goal is a proven way to help. It gets you moving. I set a goal of writing my weekly blog in an hour, and I do it. If your house is a wreck, spend two hours cleaning a dresser or a closet.

Grow up. As a psychologist, I hear of lot of people complaining. Bad spouse, bad boss, rotten culture, no-good brother-in-law. Everyone is the problem except themselves. When I am called in to deal with a recalcitrant employee, most of the time the problem lies with the boss, not the employee. It’s called “locus of control”. Those with external locus of control blame others or God for their problems. Those with more of an internal locus of control take responsibility for their situation. They see their predicament as a result of their conscious choices. And they focus on what they can control. When a storm causes their flight to be cancelled, they don’t blame the ticket agent or the airline. I love it when I hear someone in a meeting say, “It’s my fault, I’m responsible for it.”

“Playing video games in mom’s basement”

Finding meaning in what you do. Maybe you’re an Uber driver. You are also helping people get to where they need to be. You may be the receptionist. You are the window to that company and help form first impressions for all who enter. You may be laying bricks, and you may also be constructing a great cathedral. What’s the higher-level purpose of your work?

Why is it important to make your bed, be responsible, and find meaning? You can live in your mom’s basement, playing video games and eating Cheetos, or you can take a shower, get a job, and find meaning in what you are doing. It doesn’t mean you will always be happy, but at least you will be in the arena. What kind of life do you want to live?