Aristotle on making your bed


Meet GenY (pronounced “jenny”, short for Generation Y).

I’ve been trying to explain to GenY that it is good for her to make her bed every morning. GenY used to make her bed every morning, until one day she realized how pointless it was. The illogical-ness of it hit her like a two-by-four to her face and now she cannot be persuaded otherwise.

I don’t blame GenY, because she was raised on such lovely thoughts as “follow your heart”, “be yourself”, “think outside the box” — and they opened up a whole new world to her (Disney even wrote a song about it). The phrases are not so bad in and of themselves, but she took them to heart without thinking them through. She took them to mean that a world where she can choose whether or not to make her bed is the kind of world where world peace can exist. Tradition, laws, her parents’ political party –they are all stupid unless she can explain why they are significant. And she can’t, because she cannot even use her imagination to come up with one reason why making her bed might benefit her.

Some of her friends grew up encouraged to color inside the lines, read biographies, and follow the example of mature adults, and she is convinced somewhere along the way, they were brainwashed. They are still trying to cling to the old fashioned idea that discipline in general is a good thing.

This is what I ended up telling GenY: Fine, don’t make your bed. But get up and do fifty jumping jacks every morning. Or polish your shoes. Or write a blog post. Or read for thirty minutes. Do something that you either don’t want to do, or something that is good for you—like not eating pop tarts.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle


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