Can Happiness Be Found Between the Sheets?

A little over three years ago, I started this blog as a way to familiarize myself with WordPress on behalf of a client. After three posts in the course of a quarter, it was clear that my commitment was low. I learned what I needed to for the client, completed the project on time, and moved on to the next thing. I kept writing. I just didn’t do it in a public forum.

So, we’ll consider this my blog reboot, a reinvention, a 2.0 of sorts.

I’m not the kind of person who can do the same thing day in and day out, so I’ll set the expectation now that, while I certainly intend to post more than three blogs a quarter, a daily reflection just isn’t going to happen. I quite envy people who are consistent, can commit to a routine. I have about a three-day maximum and then I start looking for a variation on the theme.  This can make it difficult to cultivate new habits or eliminate bad ones. I tried a little experiment recently to test my resolve in such matters.

I was listening to Happier, a relatively new podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. They were talking about habits that can improve happiness and mentioned that making the bed daily is one of the simplest and best ways. I can’t say I was immediately convinced, but it sure did seem simple enough. Silly not to try.

And why wasn’t I already making my bed everyday? Well, you have to understand that I was raised in a home where beds were made or heads rolled. Meals were withheld, hugs were rationed, privileges were lost. That might be an exaggeration, but between my mother and my two grandmothers, there was no doubt that good kids made beds, bad kids didn’t. I complied as a child since there was little choice. Even through college and my early twenties, I stayed true to the requirement. And then one day, I seemed to fully-embrace the idea of adulthood. Adulthood doesn’t offer as many gifts and choices as children think, but one thing was abundantly clear: I didn’t have to make my damn bed if I didn’t want to.

In one of my few rebellious acts, I stopped making my bed everyday. Occasionally I would pull up the covers to create the impression of straightness. Other times I would make it, but not arrange the pillows. I often made it right before I got in to bed. Don’t ask. That’s crazy, right? I was fighting against my natural preference for a made bed and my equally natural desire to want to do things my way. Mine, mine, mine. What a completely inconsequential way to assert my independence, not to mention the fact that the rebellion, far too late and far too private, did little to make its mark. It represented a freedom that I didn’t even want.

So, I had absolutely nothing to lose by going back to being a bed maker. I’ve been faithful to the task now for five weeks or so. I wanted to do it for two reasons. The first was that I wanted to show myself I was still capable of change, even in its most mundane form. Making the bed each day served a larger purpose of convincing myself that I could put my mind to doing something consistently and not abandon it the minute it became inconvenient or uninteresting. The second reason actually had to do with the bed. Seeing the bed made each morning was like setting an intention in yoga class. It was my sign that I was ready for the day, that I was diving in to the day with purpose and focus. It acted as a form of renewable energy. No matter what else happens during the day, I know I have that one moment, and I can have that moment the next day too. Is it happiness? I’m not so sure about that, but whatever label it goes by, I like it.

Now that I’ve mastered the bed, who knows what could happen next!