An Admiral's Advice on the 4 Best Ways to Start Your Day

Waking up and getting motivated can be challenging. At the beginning of the day, we have to adjust from a restful sleep to a world of challenges, obstacles and work. How do we get motivated?

Make your bed every day

In an interview with the Today show in May 2014, United States Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, most famous for spearheading the operation that assassinated Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden, told graduates at the University of Texas that they should start each day "by making your bed." McCraven holds this advice as so useful that he literally wrote a book about it, entitled - what else? - Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life ... And Maybe the World.

"If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,'' he said. "It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you'll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better." 

In his commencement speech, he also made other recommendations, such as being willing to accept help, not being afraid of failure and charging in to difficult situations head on. While these sentiments are a bit cliched, making your bed is not and gives you a specific task to get the day started with. McRaven has said that his advice has been acknowledged as helping them by people he has met over the years:

Eat breakfast 

It has been repeated many times that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." This addage is true - many researchers postulate that when people have meals often determines their weight level. People who eat three meals, surrounded by snacks, gained weight over time whereas individuals who ate two large meals, beginning in the day, actually lost weight.

Additonally, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD. has said that "emotions can trigger eating episodes" when people are not hungry. While some people might wake up angry or elated, your emotional level is lower when you wake up than during other parts of the day, when much more emotional stimulation occurs. A smaller, rationed meal may be more possible during the morning because of this.

A great deal of healthy breakfast foods are largely produced as well. Whereas pizza, burritos, steak and lunch meats are marketted for other parts of the day (among other unhealthy snacks), healthy food is not outside of the norm for breakfast.

Giving your first meal of the day a mission of health also, like making your bed, acts as a constructive task to model the rest of a constructive day after.

Drinking water


Along with that healthy breakfast, you should try to supplement with a good amount of H20. If you have bottled water, try two or more bottles before and after your meal. Your body can become dehydrated after a night's sleep and a good amount of H20 can get your metabolism on the right footing early in the day. Remember that your digestive system requires good amounts of water in order to function smoothly. 

Meditation or exercise

Much like making your own bed, meditation and exercise are ideal for setting the physical narrative for your entire day. If you are going to be spending the entire day in a bustling office, meditation can be good for setting your mind on a peaceful footing so that the demands of the workplace don't unsettle you. If you are a day laborer of some kind, exercise can be a good way of setting your physical activity on your own terms. Try running around the block, biking or lifting weights, depending on what fits best with the work you plan to do and what you prefer.

Gain perspective

Adm. McRaven has said that the average person will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime. Personally, that seems like an underestimate although the level someone meets could be determinate by income level, a rural or urban setting or what country they live in, amongst all sorts of other factors. On average, that's a good amount of people. McRaven adds that if you manage to change the lives of just ten people, and those people go on to change the lives of ten others, an entire graduating class of a university like the University of California could change the lives of 800 million people.

How should you apply this to your perspective? McRaven uses the examples of how being aware of your environment and making quick decisions saved people's lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Be aware of how decision making doesn't just impact you but also others. Start the day by acknowledging yourself as the master of your fate, and by that effect the master of other people's. 

Whatever you are doing in school, work or whatever activity that you do during the day, a good morning is necessary to having a functional and productive day - nutrition, activity and perspective can all set you on the right path. Remember that the energy you set when you wake up can continue the entire day.

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