A friend of mine recently sent me a YouTube link to a most interesting talk I’d like to share with you. It’s not specific to depression or psychology at all. The speaker offered many valuable life tips that we can all benefit from, whether we have a mood disorder or not. It was the 2014 University of Texas at Austin Commencement Address given by Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, a Navy Seal Commander and dynamic guy. His speech, Ten Lessons From Basic Seal Training, has reached over 4.4 million viewers to date.
Some of McRaven’s Ten Lessons are what you might expect from a navy seal commander. Everyone must paddle their boat – find someone to help you paddle yours. Life failures build inner and outer strength, so don’t be afraid of them. Sometimes we have to slide down obstacles head first. Don’t back down from the sharks. And on.
The Admiral begins his talk with the best and most fascinating lesson, which is to make your bed every day. It’s actually part of navy seals training. He makes the point that this act gives you a sense of pride, an accomplishment for the day, and that completing the first task of the day encourages you to do more. He emphasizes that it’s the little things in life that matter, and that we should pay attention to those. And if you’ve had a bad day, at least you come home to a made bed!
Wow! Not exactly the kind of advice you’d expect from such a tough guy. If the navy seals expect it out of their team then it's definitely not prissy. He makes a good point that I think would work for all of us, depressed or not. Making your bed is a very good way to start your day by getting something concrete done. It’s simple and quick to do, and is possible even in the midst of severe depression. It’s better to look at and feels good at night to get into a freshly made bed. Perhaps making up your bed neatly each morning would discourage a person from remaining in there for hours at a time, or crawling back in to hide when life becomes difficult. Try it for a week and see if it makes a difference.
I would add to McRaven’s argument that making your bed is a sign of respect for yourself and your living environment. When you are depressed it’s hard to believe that you deserve a nice place to “be," a clean and welcoming environment in which to relax and end your day. It would be more helpful to correct that mindset and create a living space for yourself that shows you value and respect yourself. This will help to build your self esteem, often lacking in depression.
Admiral McRaven continues on in his Ten Lessons to discuss the power of hope. While his focus is more on things to do if you want to change the world, he mentions the power that one person with hope can have. This, too, resonates with those who have depression or a mood disorder. Loss of hope is one of the key traits of depression; maintaining that hope can make an enormous difference in your life.
I thought that his was an interesting talk, and that we can learn many things from his experiences. See what you think!