Rituals: Why They’re Good for You and How to Include Them in Your Day to Day
We are creatures of habit. And while spontaneity and shaking things up can be immediately rewarding, creating routines that we enjoy is beneficial in the long run, because it reinforces our general well being. The trick is to turn these daily actions into moments of intimacy with yourself —to turn routine into ritual.
Rituals are present across time and culture, and though many are done in community —mourning or celebratory rituals, for example— personal rituals are just as common. Some of us need a cup of tea before we can truly start our day, for others, pancakes on Saturday morning means the weekend has truly begun. When we place intent and meaning in these small acts, we turn them into rituals.
Rituals bring a sense of control and security, they reaffirm identity and help carry us through hard times. Most importantly, they are a way of turning our beliefs into concrete actions. Here are three simple steps to incorporate them into your life:
Identify what matters to you
Take a moment to think about your current habits and how they connect to your values. Ask yourself if these actions make you happy and if they are reinforcing the things that matter most to you. Making a list of priorities and contrasting it with your current routine can be very helpful.
Turn it into action
Once you know what you wish to focus on, translate it into a concrete action. If, for example, you’ve identified that self care is important for you, now ask yourself what that will look like in your daily life. Maybe it’s a ten minute morning meditation, or a long, warm bath each night, or a set of daily affirmations.
Make it a habit
Give your ritual the importance it merits. Allot an amount of time each day to carry out your particular ritual, and commit to it without excuses. When they become habits, rituals are even more effective in helping us combat stress and reconnect with ourselves. So enjoy your ritual, revel in it. You deserve it.
Want to dive deeper? Check out Casper ter Kuile’s ‘The Power of Ritual.’ A Harvard Divinity School fellow, ter Kuile believes developing meaningful rituals can help us reconnect with ourselves and others. His book presents ideas on how to turn things we do every day into meaningful experiences that offer a space for spiritual growth.