The commencement speech by Admiral McRaven, providing reasons why a person should make his bed in the morning, prompted me to think about my routines and what equates to a successful day. I devised a list of five key activities to make each day successful. Three items are completed prior to other activities and two before bed.
As the Admiral indicated, the first thing to do after getting up out of bed in the morning is to make it. It does give a person a sense of accomplishment; plus, on days that are trying, a made bed is not nearly as inviting to go back to as a unmade bed. The second thing to do is pray. While it may seem a no-brainer on a Catholic faith blog, it is something that needs to be planned for and accommodated. I usually read the Magnificat morning prayers, the Mass readings and the reflection and then follow up with a rosary. All that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how focused (or awake) I am. Morning prayers are essential, as they provide a prospective to God acting both in your life and in the world.
Lastly for the morning routine is to take care of the dishes. It only takes a few moments to place the items in the dishwasher and I find it so encouraging to come home to a clean kitchen. I discovered, however, the days when I run the dishwasher at night as I’m heading off to bed, I usually end up leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink next morning. Unfortunately, those work days seem to be more stressful and I end up leaving the dinner dishes keeping the breakfast ones company in favor of having some “me” time. Realizing the chain of events that kept happening, I saw how important it is to not just take the time, but to make the time to unload/reload the dishwasher. There seems to be more “me” benefit to having an orderly kitchen then the few extra minutes I’d have doing something else.
After learning my lesson with dishes, the first action item to finish out the day on successful note is to clean up the dinner dishes! Even if the day was a complete failure, you have a made bed and a clean kitchen from the morning; why allow failure to continue? After cleaning up dinner, the next activity is evening prayer. The Magnificat evening prayer only takes about 5 minutes to read, although meditation can take longer. Taking the time to connect again with God about the high (blessing) and the low (suffering) points completes the perspective of God acting in your life. Thanking Him for the blessings and the ability to suffer through our trials can put both in perspective. Life’s not meant to be all of blessings or trials, but reflecting on our daily lives can provide a sense of peace and purpose to each.
Pulling back the bedcovers at the end of the day, if the only thing we accomplished are those five actions, we can call that day successful. We started the day with accomplishments and renewed our relationship with God. We completed the day by not letting the day’s failure to continue and brought our focus back to one who is the center of our lives.