Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
UPDATE: This post was originally published on April 23.
I once did a consultation for a family who asked me to do a healthy home survey for a property they were thinking of buying. We met at the family’s current home and drove from there to the proposed new home.
What was so interesting about the day was how messy and cluttered the current home was, with clothes and children’s toys strewn all over the floors of just about every room and passageway, and how neat and ordered the new house was. Both were occupied by families of two adults and two small children, and both mothers were full-time moms, but the way they ran their homes and brought up their children was so different — neither being right or wrong, of course.
"Ah, yes," said the mother of the beautifully tidy home, when I commented on how well organized it was. "Even when my children were too small to make their own beds, I taught them to at least try to pull the covers up even the tiniest bit." She mimed a toddler attempting with all their might to pull their bed cover just a few inches up the bed. "It begins with something as simple as that."
I recall another occasion when I was discussing teaching a residential space clearing course at the most elite hotel chain in Bali. I met with the Regional General Manager in person (it was he who had sought me out to lead an event there), and together we viewed the possible meeting rooms and residential suites. One of the suites he wanted to show me had only recently been vacated by hotel guests and had not yet received housekeeping’s magic touch to restore it to a state of cleanliness and order. I remember to this day the look in his eyes as he surveyed the array of carelessly scattered towels and bedding. "You see, I was not brought up this way…" was all he said, but it revealed so much about how structured his life was, and how he had been able to transpose that into his career and rise so rapidly to the top of his profession at such a young age. He was the warmest, most caring, and most hospitable hotel manager I have ever met, and he took immense pleasure in catering for his guests’ every need and whim, but this did not mean he condoned slovenly behavior. We became firm friends, and I led two very successful courses at one of his hotels before I left Bali to move back to the UK.
These two examples highlight not so much the value of making your bed each morning, but what it can lead to. When you begin your day in this way, it sets a certain structure in place for everything you subsequently do, and creates a clear and welcoming space for you to return to each night. When you leave your bedding in a messy heap, you can tend to muddle through the day until it’s time to fall back in to bed again. It’s good to peel back the covers to air your bedding for a few minutes each morning before making your bed, but leaving it that way all day doesn’t air it much more!
Taking this to an even deeper level, people with structure get things done. They are able to navigate life’s challenges, find solutions, and achieve great things. They are people of will. Conversely, people who lack structure can often be buffeted about by the winds of change, and tend to wonder how to find more fulfillment.
And, how do you build will, I hear you ask? In my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book, I explain that this is one of those million dollar questions, with no single or simple answer. Will has to be deliberately cultivated, a thousand times a day in every little way. Begin small and work your way up to great acts of will, which are sure to have a resounding effect in every aspect of your life.
So, can making your bed really make a difference? When you do it with the express intention of creating a more structured start and end to your day, it most certainly can. Try it yourself for a few weeks and see.