We all have our little daily things we do, things we’ve been doing forever and that in a sense constitute a part of our quirk or idiosyncratic patterns. We all have rituals, long long overdue for reason revision. As we are creatures of habit, rituals tend to stick around in our lives far longer than reasons which initiated them. Reasons change and get lost while accompanying, form them emerging rituals once serving them, mutate into something different, a sort of a grounding mechanism, making you feel safe in sameness when so many things are ever changing.
Rituals we speak of are neutral in themselves, although they can be objectively good or bad for you. It may be that morning cigarette you’ve had with your coffee since college or a run as the sun sets, putting up a Christmas tree even if you’re not even remotely religious or throwing salt over your left shoulder if you knock over a saltshaker, although you haven’t been superstitious since you were like 8… anything at all. They provide security and continuity as a mild OCD symptom would, they become the stable axis making you feel sane when the insane of omnipresent entropy is ever pending. Rituals are also reinforced habits whose connections get stronger each time we do them and they serve multiple purposes such as reconnecting and reinforcing or remembering something important, especially in the case of collective rituals. We don’t need to believe in anything said at midnight mass to enjoy this moment with our family, we don’t need to know the history of a Christmas tree to get great joy in putting presents for our loved ones below it. Some rituals make no difference, some, as your morning routine let’s say, make all the difference in the world in your days.
The personal rituals are harder to change and uproot as they are usually on autopilot, giving your brain a break from constantly making decisions substituting this strain with comforting familiarity. Yet, all things should be aired out and swept for bugs in the system. So we urge you to take a few days of mindful ritual revising, that is watch yourself, watch what you do and ask a non judgmental open “why do I do this?”. Search for the reason below the ritual or habit. Has it run its course? Have you overgrown this and is there a better solution you’ve never thought through? Maybe you don’t need that after pee midnight snack you started getting when you were pregnant years ago, maybe it is not necessary to check your email first thing in the morning as you did when you were in that stress filled office situation in 2016., maybe you don’t need to start your day by reading newspaper headlines or turn on the TV… For few days just pay attention, be mindful and in the moment, try not to go on autopilot and notice the things you do. If it is a real personal habit and a ritual, you’ll catch it in those few days. if you want to have better days and experiences, you can. You just need better daily rituals and you’d already be far better than you were. There are things we all do we don’t like in ourselves but we continue to ignore them and feel guilty. Is it not calling your mom or grandma often enough, interrupting people when they speak, allowing nonsense and trivial news to rob us of our time mindlessly scrolling, cutting corners and taking shortcuts ,sitting down to watch a mediocre show after which we just feel numb and shut off…
Watch yourself, asses, decide if the reasons for doing something have expired and if change is necessary and than take it day by day with small improvements. Habits are hard to kick, and the only way to do it is to introduce new better (whatever better constitutes for you) ones. Rituals often outlive their initial reasons and we fail to notice this as we’re too busy with the non ritualized demanding challenges of everyday to bother. But do a little inside cleaning a few times a year. Small change accumulated over large spans of time is a game changer, a painless and natural transition to your own version of a higher quality of life. What we do matters greatly, accumulation (of good or bad) is inevitable. So do what you find necessary, be it substituting the morning news for a book chapter, walking to work instead of taking the car or bus each morning, sitting in silence for a while before you go into the world… We all already know what’s no longer sitting well with us keep repeating because it’s just easier in the short run than making a change. Do what you need to, judgement free and opened to new and better.