On Morning People

The problem with morning people is that they think the rest of us are the problem. The reality is that the morning person is the classic interventionist; not content to bask in the glory of his cheerful morning, he finds it necessary to whip all those around him into a frenzy of morning exuberance as well. When this evokes hostility, he concludes that he is dealing with handicapped people whose natural capacity for joy at the prospect of being awake has been tragically truncated.

To the non-morning person, on the other hand, he is a miserable meddler who should choke on his seven-grain Blueberry Sunrise bagel. This opinion softens, of course, as the morning wears on. It’s really more of a fleeting thought.

Being naive optimists, morning people never give up. Morning after morning they merrily bounce into the kitchen, eager to plan the day’s activities, discuss the Relationship, have some good quality time. They are actually surprised when the person who growled at them yesterday morning, and the 3,757 other mornings they’ve shared together, is not any more interested today in extended conversation.

We non-morning people need ample time to decide whether the day will in fact be worth living. This can take some time and is usually prolonged by premature chatter about what is needed today from the Home Depot. Some might regard us as unnecessarily sour. Snap out of it, the morning person might say. Choose to be happy. To this I reply that excessive morning happiness is not a choice; it is an affliction.

Besides, morning people desperately need non-morning people. It is we who have kept an eye on the world through the ages; without us you morning people would have long ago had your genes eliminated as a consequence of skipping happily out the cave entrance and into the mouth of a tiger. It is the non-morning person who says, “shut your yap until I can see if there are tigers out there.” That’s our job. The job of you morning people is to pipe down and get us another cup of coffee.


  1. Cis

    It must be a rule that there cannot be more than one morning person in the relationship at any given time. Mike and I switched roles a year ago and I have to say that being the morning person in the relationship only makes me loathe the whole morning person sub-culture more.

    Though in my defense, it’s not technically my morning as I haven’t been to bed yet. 🙂

  2. Misfit

    Yeah, I’m a morning person. So what? I get up at six every weekday, seven on the weekends. I just can’t lay there without feeling guilty for not getting something done. Gotta be cleaning, or getting groceries, going to work, reading, praying, working out, something other than staring at a ceiling wondering when my wife is going to get up.

    If you don’t like it, tough. It’s not like you have enough energy to stop me.

  3. Annessa

    This non-morning person raises her coffee in salute to you sir. Although on days like these, I wish those perky pests had gotten eaten by tigers. Grr. I’m goin’ back to bed.

  4. Steve


    I’m interested in your opinion on the number of verses in Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel, Psalms referring to early in the morning. Lots of important stuff seemed to happen then…

    Proverbs 27:14 speaks for itself and to your point, I believe.


  5. Deoxy

    This whole debate boils down alittle farthr: are you awake?

    If not, GO BACK TO BED.

    I am not going to douse my happiness because you want to sleep in the kitchen with your eyes open.

    In my case, the reason the morning person is annoyed is that there a perfectly good place to be asleep (in bed), so go be grumpy and asleep there. The kitchen (and the rest of the house, except maybe the bathroom) is for being AWAKE.

    On the flip side, my wife wants to talk at night, after we get in bed… she gets annoyed that I fall asleep. Hello! We’re IN BED, with the lights out, and I’m sleepy. That’s what the bed is for, right?

    So, you non-morning person, the fault is indeed yours, now ours. You can’t seem to understand the bed is for sleeping and the kithcen is for being awake. Pardon me if I don’t re-arrange my world for you.


  6. Tony


    I’m all for early morning praise, especially the quiet kind. Let the soul cry out, and the lips remain shut, at least until 10 a.m. — I believe there’s a verse somewhere that says that.

    Another one for those of us on the quiet side:

    “For they do not speak peace,
    But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.”
    (Psalms 35:20)

  7. Tony

    I hear you, but very frequently we non-morning people are driven from the bed by you perky “let’s wake up and have a good conversation” people.

  8. Tim Plett

    I am a dedicated morning person. It is the best time of the day for me as it is just about the only time I get some private time with God and prayer. It is not about annoying the non-morning people, but is about getting the day started off right.
    I am, however, not aggressive about that. In fact, I am actually quite respectful toward the non-morning people.

  9. PDS

    The psychologically penetrating question is why I am able to get up for a 6:48 a.m. tee time, and almost nothing else. My rule, firmly revealed to me on the eve of my 40th birthday, is: don’t fight your temperment, unless your temperment makes you prone to ax murdering and the like.

  10. James

    I’m a “morning person” in the sense that I get up pretty early every day, including the weekends. I’m usually in the office by 8:15 even though I can essentially set my own schedule.

    I am not, however, cheerful about it. It just seems more efficient to get up and get things taken care of. On the weekends, especially, I hate getting up late and then getting caught in the maddening crowds and traffic. I can usually get my errands run and be safely home in front of my computer or whatever before the night owls are up and in my way.

  11. Andrew Cohen

    A splendid missive on the morning/anti-morning mentalities. Now, maybe I’m an irascible anti-morning person (this is my lame seque), or maybe I’m just looking for excuses to avoid grading papers, but I noticed on your front page the motto from an old journal of opinion with which we were both once affiliated:

    “It’s good to be open-minded. It’s better to be right:”

    And then you list some neat sites.

    I think this slogan is misguided.

    The plausibility and catchiness of the slogan comes from how “open-mindedness” is a euphemism for (what we the “right”-thinking folks regard as) dubious views about our enforceable responsibilities to fellow human beings. Persons sympathetic to (what we “right”-thinking folks believe are) such wrong-headed views must be so open-minded that their brains are little more than slop buckets. So, it then seems that being “right” is superior to being uncritically open-minded.

    But in another sense, this slogan is off base. It’s misses a key human virtue—one we need as beings who act on our understanding of the world.

    Whatever our specific life plans, we all have a goal of living the best lives available to us. An essential condition to living well, I argue, is that we define and live lives of our own. No life is a good life that is foisted on a person from the outside. The best life is one where a person can define and-—most importantly—-critically reevaluate her conceptions of the good.

    Open-mindedness is then a key virtue. It is a virtue precisely because we can be mistaken about what is true and what is of value. Understood as having a critical receptiveness to new ways of thinking about oneself and one’s place in the world, the open-minded person is best in a position to define and live a fulfilling life plan. A closed-minded person is shut off from potentially enriching improvements in his or her personal and social worlds. So open-mindedness is a virtue; it is key for critically understanding one’s aims in life, and it is key for critically understanding—-and potentially improving—-one’s social world. Closed-mindedness, even if motivated by a firm belief that one is “right,” is then a vice.

    Being “right” is certainly a virtue, insofar as “right” is understood as having true beliefs. But the problem is that our knowledge is continuously expanding and being revised. Now, don’t get me wrong—this is not some insidious relativism. The idea is that our fallibility and limited perspective calls for a certain epistemic humility.

    Even persons who hold certain claims to be timelessly and absolutely true ought still to reject the slogan. Whatever the content of those beliefs thought timelessly true, individuals with the appropriate virtues of thought understand that the meaning and scope of those beliefs are open to revision. To reject this open-mindedness is to be guilty of an intellectual hubris—-an unfounded arrogance that one has found the truth for all time-—despite one’s finitude and fallibility.

    Even if some of one’s beliefs are timelessly true, it’s possible that one has misunderstood their meaning. Being closed to that possibility, and being closed to the possibility of an improved understanding of those truths, betrays the meaning of those truths and clashes with personal integrity.

    Consider some examples. Bill may think the best life for him involves a singular focus on a certain project. But if Bill is unshakeably wedded to the idea that this project must be pursued though the heavens may fall, Bill may close himself to the real possibility that more fulfilling alternatives are available. This doesn’t mean Bill should always be reevaluating his life at a fundamental level (that would induce a paralysis of hyper-introspection), but he should at least be open to the possibility, should it suggest itself, that there is room for improvement.

    At points in many cultures’ histories (including ours), many persons thought it was right to deny certain classes equal treatment before the law for what we now recognize as morally irrelevant reasons. Often they firmly believed the social and legal hierarchies were justified, but they later realized they were mistaken. I don’t wish to oversimplify the complexities involved in social change. My only point is that attitudes and beliefs evolve, and often people rightly regard change in beliefs as an improvement in their outlook and in social norms. Closed-minded persons miss the chance for moral improvement. Closed-minded persons miss the chance for economic improvement.

    The misguided slogan is not necessarily defending closed-mindedness, but it comes close. I think, though, it’s better to be open-minded than to be right. I think norms for closed-mindedness will not survive the rough and tumble of normative selection pressures. Even if one really is right, i.e., one has a justified belief(s), open-mindedness is key to adapting and improving in light of changing circumstances. Just as closed-minded persons cut themselves off from potential improvements and more fulfilling lives, cultures and subcultures that reject the virtues of open-mindedness will not survive. (This, I think, is one of the reasons that the norms endorsing flying aircrafts into skyscrapers will not flourish.) Without openness to new ways of thinking, one is stuck with stale maladaptive dogma, which in the long-term will probably result in both a closed-minded and mistaken outlook. Being right is fleeting. Being open-minded is a more reliable way of securing right beliefs.

    Andrew Cohen

  12. Misfit

    Thanks Andy. Ruin a perfectly good series of comments to write a bloody paper about a quote that was probably only put on the page because it’s funny. You couldn’t just e-mail Tony. No, you had to go completely off-topic and ruin this thread.

    I’d rather be right. I’d rather have the truth. Lies are a waste of time.

  13. Aaron Armitage

    A a wrong-headed bloody paper too. The first sentance is “It’s good to be open minded.” How do you get from there to opposition to open mindedness? Because it’s better to be right? It would be a strangely closed minded open mindedness that will not tolerate any other values to have a higher place.

    Oh, I also don’t like morning people.

  14. Richard Bennett

    A person of my close acquaintance has observed that one of the lessons of Sept. 11th is not to go to the office before 10:00. This person wouldn’t say that the morning people at the WTC and the Pentagon got what was coming to them, but in about twenty years or so she might.

  15. Garrett

    Ahh and what a lovely morning it was……

    I finally figured it all out. I am often told that I get more done before noon than most people do all day. Under this line of thinking I allow myself a nap. Then I’m ready to go with the night people too. Ahh, what a lovely evening this will be!!

    The true beauty is I get to harrass people from both camps 🙂

  16. Deoxy

    I only drive non-morning people from bed when I have been told that it’s IMPORTANT that they be somewhere ON TIME. I don’t appreciate being denigrated for performing such an important task.

    But yes, those who DO drive people from simply because it’s morning now ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    On the flip side, those who keep morning people up at night should be ashamed of themselves, too. And that’s much easier to do (can yousay VERY LOUD MUSIC IN OTHER APARTMENTS?!? ARG!!).

    That’s what so annoying about the whole non-morning side of the debate. It’s almost impossible to bother non-morning people (other than those you live with – or work with, but see my earlier comments about where one should sleep), but non-morning people can EASILY bother morning people trying to sleep by staying up late driving LOUD cars or playing LOUD music (or both – does anyone understan the “I have a very loud car and I’m going to share it with everyone whether they like it or not” mentality?). Or other loud things (my wife made comments about the people above us being rabbts, if you know what I mean).

    So, before you go poo-pooing others, check your own camp for larger piles of poo (to *very* badly paraphrase).


  17. addison


    Thank you for the many paragraphs of useless ranting. Your little essay is a fine example of the conclusion being stated to make a premise and not the other way around. Tony’s little slogan does, in no way, imply close-mindedness is a virtue or that open-mindedness is wrong (considering the word “good” was used next to it). Geesh.

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