*Actually, more like five-ish. That headline is unabashed click-bait. Maybe readers will supply the other 495-ish.
Before we get started, why is having reasons to get out of bed important?
Because having a purpose keeps you young. And who doesn’t want that?
Barbara Bradley Hagerty, in a recent KQED Forum interview about her new book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlife, cited some interesting research. According to a Rush University Medical Center study, the plaques and tangles characteristic of Alzheimer’s were just as likely to be present (as confirmed by autopsy) in people with a sense of purpose as those without. But those with a sense of purpose did not show symptoms of the disease. Other research shows a sense of purpose may add years to your life and that meaning trumps happiness in keeping people healthy.
One important aside. I know from my experiences with depression and anxiety that these illnesses cause a terrible chicken-and-egg conundrum when it comes to living a meaningful life. When you’re depressed, it doesn’t matter how many reasons you have to get out of bed. None of them matter. So, if you are suffering, don’t bother reading this list. Please get help, or find a friend or family member to help if you can’t take the next step. Use a resource like mentalhealth.gov’s “Get Immediate Help” link. Take medication if you need to.
When you’re ready to read the list, it will be here.
1. The sun is shining (even behind the clouds).
On the face of it, this is kind of lame, so let’s unpack.
What is the sun? It is a star. One of who-knows-how-many gazillions in a galaxy among gazillions. It reaches temperatures as high as 27 million degrees Fahrenheit, and yet burns us only if we stay out too long without sunscreen. It—and our relationship to it—is responsible for nothing less than all life on earth. If you need anything more miraculous to get you out of bed, I’m hard-pressed to know what it might be.
2. You can get back into it (your bed) in 16 hours.
The tide is turning on sleep. Used to be we all boasted about how many hours we went without it. Now even a few enlightened high schools are considering changing their schedules so teens can get more of it. It keeps you thin, lowers blood pressure, and melts away wrinkles. Freakonomics Radio just rebroadcast an excellent two-part story on the economics of sleep (here are parts one and two).
3. You have another chance to practice.
Whatever path you’re on, whatever you’re trying to accomplish, wherever you’re trying to go or whatever you’re trying to be, the chances are good that you’ll fuck up a lot along the way. More than once. Get over it. You’re a human being. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re even allowed to make the same mistakes again and again. You don’t need to be perfect; you just need to keep working on it. It’s the journey, my friend.
Not only that, you have another chance to do good for someone else and the world. Have you spent the last 47 years, 16 weeks, 4 days, and 28 hours being a selfish ass? No matter. Today really is the first day of… no, we won’t go that far into cliche-land, and besides, the story of that tired phrase is not a happy one. But you can get out of bed and do something different today than you did yesterday.
It’s a process.
(If you’re spiritual but not religious—or even if you are religious—you owe it to yourself to check out Wait But Why’s post, Religion for the Nonreligious. It’s amazing.)
4. You won’t always be able to.
Did you think I could get through a whole list like this without the tiniest bit of morbid thinking?
One day—you never know exactly when—your number will be up and you’ll be down for the count. The long count. So, as long as the sun comes up, your cat jumps on your chest, you can feel the restorative power of sleep, and you can practice becoming a more enlightened human being: go for it.
Let’s end on a slightly lighter note:
5. Your [insert favorite pet here] is waiting for you.
What? Kids don’t come first? Well, when was the last time you received unconditional love from your kids?
5.a. You have to drag your sleeping teenagers from the sack.
5.b. You MUST put kibble in the cat’s bowl or risk evisceration by tooth and claw.
5. C. You can read my latest piece of flash fiction
“The Appointed Time and Place” – Shortlisted on Mash Stories (please give a kudo if you enjoy!)
I’d love to hear what gets you out of bed in the the morning (or afternoon).