The holiday of Passover has been going on for the previous week, and it has got me thinking about the importance of rituals in our lives.
A ritual is just an established procedure or order for performing some type of action.
Advantages Of Rituals
Rituals have both advantages and disadvantages, but today I would like to focus on the advantages of including rituals in our daily lives.
1. Rituals Allow You To Quickly Perform An Activity.
By ritualizing certain actions, you allow yourself to get started with them more quickly without having to invest as much strategic planning into it.
For example, you might have a routine that you use before you start writing a paper for school.
Maybe you always get a cup of coffee before you start your paper. Then you immediately start writing the outline, followed by an introduction paragraph.
If you always start papers this way, you have a clear method prescribed in advance. Now there is no need to spend time thinking about how you will get started on your paper because it will be automatic.
2. The Psychological Principle Of Conditioning Makes Actions Automatic.
Humans are creatures of habit.
We tend to fall into patterns and then follow these patterns unconsciously. We can utilize rituals to use this aspect of our psychology to our advantage.
Here is one way that this can work.
Let’s say there is an activity that you lack motivation to complete, say, exercising regularly.
You can construct a series of actions that you perform prior to working out. If you apply this ritual consistently over a period of time, you make it very easy to get yourself to work out.
Simply perform the ritual beforehand, and you will be conditioned to work out afterwards.
Perhaps this ritual might be changing into our gym clothes and then doing ten jumping jacks.
3. Call Back Specific Mental States Or Emotions On Command.
There is a lot that I can say about this one, but for the purposes of this article I will just summarize.
By following a prescribed pattern of behavior, you can experience certain mental states. Then you can create an anchor for this feeling and use the anchor to experience that mental state whenever you want.
I know that probably was confusing, so I will give an example to illustrate the point.
After I do a session of yoga, I find myself feeling incredibly relaxed.
This feeling peaks towards the end of the session when I am engaging in the more meditative portion of my yoga routine.
If I want to experience this feeling at other times, I need to anchor that feeling to a different action.
For example, when I am at the peak of relaxation, I can make my hand into a fist and squeeze twice. With a little bit of practice, I can then experience that feeling of relaxation any time I perform that double squeeze.
4. Connect To The Past More Genuinely.
For Passover, the most high profile rule that us Jews must follow is to refrain from consuming chametz, or food made from leavened grains.
When the Jews left Egypt, they had to do so in a hurry, so there wasn’t enough time for them to leaven their bread.
By following this ritual of not consuming chametz, we can commemorate an important event in Jewish history in a way much more emotionally stimulating than simply retelling the story of Passover.
These are just a few of the many benefits of rituals.
In upcoming posts I intend to discuss disadvantages of rituals, specific ways to utilize rituals to better your life and make you happier, as well as ways in which rituals might be detracting from your life and draining your happiness.