I read an amazing article the other day, about 2 secrets we can learn from Chinese philosophers when it comes to living the good life. You can find it here.
One of my readers sent it to me as point of interest, and I'm so grateful she did! It covered a couple things that are essential to living happily, one of which I want to focus on here: rituals.
Now, when you think of rituals, you might think of sacrificial fires and chants and magic, and you wouldn't be wrong. Almost everyone's ancestors, if you go back far enough in time, had "creepy" rituals like that, to help celebrate seasons or births or deaths or what have you.
Most of us think we don't have rituals now, because most of us don't dress up and conduct elaborate ceremonies, but here's a secret:
Everyone has rituals.
Yep, everyone. Every. single. one. "What are these rituals?" you might ask? Well, those are the things that you do every single day. Your rituals are your morning habits, your bedtime prep routine, the way you grab your keys and check the door every time you leave. These seemingly simple activities are repeated on a daily basis, constructing a base as the rituals of your life.
Now, how do these rituals work for you? How consciously did you create them? It's so important to know and understand what these rituals do (or don't do) for us, because they are a strong basis for our mentality in life.
If you're checking the door every day before you leave, fearing that a robber will come in and steal all your stuff, chances are you are developing a fear and anxiety mentality on a daily basis. If you lovingly lock up your home every day before you leave, thinking, "Can't wait to see you soon! Ah, I freakin' love my home," that's quite a different mentality altogether.
Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to what we do on the daily, is that a lack of conscious rituals can really throw you off your axis.
Most of us have been advised to start each day with a morning prayer, or a meditation, or reading, or some other form of prep. Why is this?
It's because it's a subtle way of signaling to your brain, "Alright! We're up! We're going to make today meaningful through conscious decisions instead of just floating through!"
When I wake up in the morning and jump straight out of sleep into answering emails and texts and then running into the shower because I'm late and then only half doing my makeup for the same reason and then showing up for an appointment with sweat and stress, what can we notice here? Lack of rituals. There are no little breaks here in between activities to signal to my brain, "Okay, here's where our focus is at, and here's what we need in order to do it!" Going from thing to thing with no ritual break teaches my brain and emotions to do the same thing--by the end of the day, I'm a wiped out mess because everything that I experienced and felt from the second I woke up, is still with me, mixing in with everything else I experienced and felt during the rest of the day, because I haven't taken the time to clear it out by participating in a conscious ritual.
Even something as simple as a stretch and deep breath in the morning can be enough to signal to your brain where you've been (sleep), where you're going (wakefulness), and what you need in order to do the task well (conscious choice).
So what rituals do you employ on the daily? Think through how they improve, or detract from, the quality of your life. Even one teensy, tiny simple change can make a really big difference.
Share your thoughts in a comment below!