I absolutely love habits. Habits not only provide a groundwork for moving through life; they also enable us to get the basics done in order to place our energy and attention elsewhere. For example, because my commute to work is a deeply ingrained habit, I can use my mental energy to do other things while driving, like thinking about my to-do list for the day and what I will make for dinner that night (but NOT texting, however – never take your eyes of the road). It’s important that I don’t become too invested in thought, or I might become distracted from the extremely dangerous task that is driving a car. But nonetheless, I can certainly devote a significant potion of my mental capacity to making plans and listening to music or podcasts.
But you know what I love even more than habits? Rituals. No, I’m not talking about baptizing babies or praying to the heavens above (although I do pray). I’m talking about a different form of religiosity in which notions of “God” are completely irrelevant. Rituals, by my definition, are habits one practices in a very conscious, deliberate manner, and does so without fail on a regular basis that they have pre-determined.
One ritual I currently practice is meditation when I get off work every day. Without fail, every day I drive over to the park and sit for 10 minutes. I experience the benefits of meditation AND the benefit of knowing exactly what I will do when I get off work each day.
For my mornings, I am currently working on stringing together a series of actions into a concrete ritual consisting of exercise, nutrition, and mental priming. The idea is that it begins the moment I wake up. I then follow the same footsteps to get ready for the day… I am rigid about it, because the temporary strictness in the morning gives me long-term freedom and flexibility for the day ahead.
Rituals are just like habits, just a more intense version. The frameworks that rituals provide are all the more strong and enabling as the ones from our habits. Which is why healthy habits and rituals are key to happy life.
You already have countless habits and rituals in your life. Which do you want to be more deliberate about, and which do you want to be “autopilot” to focus energy elsewhere?
Ethan Small has been posting to Friendly Warrior since 2013 with his experiences and wisdom to inspire others to improve their quality of life.
First time here? Start with these posts:
10 Reasons Pain is Good
5 Steps to Eliminate Worry
Persistence Makes Perfect