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by Aine Schulmire
“Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” D&C 88:124
Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy tells a story of Pres. Romney in his article, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality” (Ensign, Mar. 1999), on how rising early can benefit us spiritually:
“Barbara, my wife, and I had the choice experience of being asked to be chauffeur for President and Sister Marion G. Romney and drove them from Provo to their home in Salt Lake City. Along the way, President Romney shared some of his personal experiences from when he was first called to serve as a General Authority in 1941. He had been serving as a stake president at the time and had gone to general conference. To his amazement, he was sustained as a new General Authority-an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve-without his prior knowledge; no one had talked to him about the calling before the session started. He was shocked and very nervous. He felt that he needed some advice, so he went to Elder Harold B. Lee, a relatively new member of the Quorum of the Twelve and a former contemporary as a stake president. Elder Romney asked him for advice about how to be successful as a General Authority.
Elder Lee spoke about the necessity of receiving personal revelation in order to be effective and said: “If you are to be successful as a General Authority, you will need to be inspired. You will need to receive revelation. I will give you one piece of advice: Go to bed early and get up early. If you do, your body and mind will become rested, and then in the quiet of those early-morning hours, you will receive more flashes of insight and inspiration than at any other time of the day.”
President Romney said: “From that day on, I put that counsel into practice, and I know it works. Whenever I have a serious problem, or some assignment of a creative nature with which I hope to receive the influence of the Spirit, I always receive more assistance in the early-morning hours than at any other time of the day. Following that counsel has helped me a great deal through the years.”
Rising early is a tough habit for some to master. I would like to add my voice to President Romney’s. I know there are many blessings that occur when you arise early. Have you noticed that our missionaries get up early in the morning? I asked my husband who served in Italy why it was that they had the elders getting up so early. His response was, “When else would they have us get up? If we slept in ’til 9:00 am, and then tried to study scriptures, eat breakfast, etc. and finally got out the door by 11:00 am, we would have already missed half a day we could have been serving the Lord!” Aren’t we serving the Lord by serving our families? I humbly suggest that maybe we should take up our armor and duplicate the Lord’s program.
There are temporal benefits as well. The research has been done, and good physical and mental health is optimized by people who follow this counsel. In my own life, the energy I feel when I get up early is much greater than if I sleep later. Depression is warded off as I increase the amount of things being taken care of, making life less overwhelming. My children are happier as they follow my example and enjoy the blessings of this counsel as well.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Adequate early rest is best…….Early to bed and early to rise is still good counsel.” (“In His Steps,” Ensign, Sept. 1988). The Lord has stated his request both by scripture and by His modern prophet. It is up to us to follow in obedience to His counsel to receive the blessings that are ours. It may be a hard habit to establish, but the pay off is BIG.
Ideas to Help Establish the Habit
1. Pray and ask Heavenly Father to help you wake in the morning. Sounds simple, but I can testify that it works. When you accomplish your goal of getting up at your self-appointed time, remember to thank Heavenly Father for His help in doing so. He wants you to succeed!
2. Start your day the night before. Establish a bedtime routine that requires you to look at the calendar for the next day’s activities. This way you can lay out your clothes, have diaper bags filled, put library books by the door, or anything else that will help the next day go smoother. Make sure you do this early enough in the evening so that you’ll go to bed at a decent hour.
3. Enlist the aide of family and friends. Tell them about the new habit you’re trying to establish. If you’re single, someone could give you a wake up call. Spouses can help by getting up with you, encouraging words, or even refusing to turn the alarm clock for you. Support makes the journey easier and more fun.
4. Fake it until you make it. Even if you don’t feel like it, be excited about what you’re doing. You’re establishing a habit that is going to benefit you in so many ways. If you have a cheery disposition in the morning, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Remember, even if you “get over it”, you’ve still already influenced those around you – so make life easier for everyone and make it a positive influence.
5. Don’t use the snooze alarm. As my husband says, it is Satan’s tool. Don’t get in the habit of setting the clock early so you can hit the snooze 2 to 3 times… just set it, and get up when it goes off. Eventually, you won’t even need the alarm! Your body will be conditioned to get up anyway!
6. Make sure you go to bed. In order to feel rested, you need sleep. Staying up just as late the night before as ever and expecting to get up earlier with no consequences is silly. Remember the Lord’s counsel; “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary.” If that requires recording your favorite show to watch at a later date, so be it. That’s why VCR’s and DVD recorders were invented!
7. Keep track of your progress and celebrate small victories. Early rising is not easy for everyone. Recommit every night before bed. If you’re the kind of person that needs to be rewarded to keep going, keep a little notebook that you can write all the things you have accomplished before the time that you USED to get up. Eventually your notebook will be filled not only with these things, but with the thoughts and inspirations Heavenly Father will have put in your mind during your earlier hours. This can be a useful tool to help keep you motivated.
8. Lastly, it takes 21 CONSECUTIVE days to create a new habit. If you oversleep one day, you will have to start over. Some people think they can sleep in on weekends without consequences. This is not so. Your body doesn’t care what day it is. To establish the habit, you must go to bed early and arise early for all 21 consecutive days. Your health and spiritual well being is worth it!