Begin Well...End Well...
Begin well...end well...
I love that phrase!
I use it every day, multiple times a day—not just with those I train, but with myself, too. It pithily reminds me of exactly how I want to be when I begin or end anything, be it tying my shoes, backing up my truck, or just listening to a friend.
Every day, I engage in two mindfulness practices that help me begin and end each day well.
The first: I make my bed.
Every morning, after telling God "good morning," I make my bed. If someone were to watch me closely over the course of several days, he (or she) would notice that I make my bed exactly the same way every time. He'd also notice that it takes me about two minutes to do it—and to do it RIGHT. Not only do I approach the task methodically, but I seek, in each segment, to do it really, really well. I've been engaging in this practice every morning since approximately 4am on Day 2 of Basic Training for ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps; Virginia Tech; Blacksburg, VA; Summer 1984 [almost 34 years ago]). By doing such a thing well, and by doing it day-in and day-out, I reinforce in my neurology the pathways and habits of beginning well everything I do.
While making my bed (and doing it well) might seem like a small (and somewhat trivial) task, I've found that doing so charts the course of my day toward excellence. When I don't make my bed—actually, that hasn't happened in a very long time (in more than three decades), so I'm not quite sure what would happen if I didn't make my bed. But...I can bet it would probably affect me negatively. For starters (pun intended), I'd begin the day knowing I let myself down. Life's hard enough without saddling myself with hindrances over which I have complete control. Given this, I decided a long time ago that every morning I'd make my bed. With no exceptions. I decided also that I'd do it really, really well—also every morning. With no exceptions. In life, I may never be the smartest or the strongest or the fastest, but I can assuredly do one thing: I can make my bed, and I can do it well. (I can be on time, too, but that's for another post!)
The second: I brush my teeth, floss, and gargle with mouthwash.
Like making my bed each morning, I brush, floss, and gargle before bed each night. And I do it really, really well. First and foremost, I do it to protect my teeth, gums, heart, and immune system, and I do it to help me sleep better. Secondly, I do it to help me finish out the day well. Just like making my bed, I do it exactly the same way each night, and I do my utmost to complete each aspect of it well. This, too, is a practice I've been doing for a very long time. (As an aside, I'm 52 years-old; and, thankfully, I've never had a cavity or needed a bridge or root canal. I'm hoping to continue that trend ["knock on wood"] until I'm at least 120. As my Dad, whose 84, still likes to say, "Son, if you brush and floss every night for a hundred years, you'll live to be an old man." And that's exactly what I intend to be someday: a very old man...with all his teeth...and with a well-made bed.)
Begin the day well by making your bed. End it well by brushing, flossing, and gargling. Doing so is a great way to help you begin and end well everything you do today, tomorrow, this week, and, well, the rest of your life.
IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):
Mondays: Meditative Prayer
Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline
Fridays: Martial Arts Practice