Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” When you take a moment and think about all the things that you do on the regular, you might be surprised at the rituals you already have in your life.
Rituals can be both positive and negative, depending on what they involve.
If, say, your usual nightly routine – aka your ritual – is to throw back a bottle of wine, eat a pint of ice cream, and go to sleep at midnight, your body, mind, and spirit are being negatively affected by this go-to pattern.
On the flip side, if your morning routine is to wake up early, meditate, get some movement in, and eat a nourishing breakfast before beginning your day, your body, mind, and spirit reap the rewards of those actions.
There was a period of time years ago when I’d stop at the local Thai place and grab a Thai iced tea with boba on my way to teach my Friday afternoon class. Before I’d even realized it had turned into a ritual, I noticed that I’d automatically crave the Thai iced tea as soon as I pulled out of my driveway as I was headed to the studio. Once I discovered how my subconscious self was taking over in that area, I knew I needed to make a change. As far as self-destructive behaviors go, that pattern was pretty mild. But it still had a hold over me, and I made the shifts to replace that habit with a new one.
Sometimes rituals are more spiritual in nature, and sometimes they’re just patterns that have turned into rituals (like my Thai iced tea Fridays). Positive rituals can help us feel more balanced and grounded. They can elevate the quality of our lives and, conversely, help speed up a downward spiral.
Having positive rituals in our daily lives can help reduce anxiety, boost pain thresholds, as well as improve our performance in tasks. An example of performance-enhancing rituals include when a baseball player does specific movements prior to his at-bat, when a football player doesn’t shave his face for the season, and when a gameshow contestant wears the same string of pearls during her winning streak.
It doesn’t matter how silly or seemingly insignificant a ritual is, the science behind it is clear: If you believe your ritual will help you, it will.
Take a moment and think of the rituals you have in your life. Start with some of the less desirable ones – without judgment.
Now focus on the ones that do some good for yourself, again without judgment.
How do these all impact you and those around you?
What are some healthy rituals you can create in your life, the ones that make a positive impact on your longevity and your future wellness? Once you determine what those rituals can be, think of the ways that you can implement them, and then enjoy the process of designing your brighter future.