The other day, a friend and I got to talking about rituals – specifically, about how successful people all seem to have them. They exercise, meditate, drink tea or green juice, journal – often at the same time every day.
“What are your rituals?” she asked me, and at first, I felt sheepish. I couldn’t think of any.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I exercise, I juice, I journal – but they don’t feel like rituals. My days are so different, it’s hard to keep any kind of consistency.”
“Well, that’s okay,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t have any rituals. What’s something you do every day that helps you keep a strong mindset?”
I thought about it, and the only thing I could come up with was this: every morning, before anyone else is awake, I get up and have my coffee. It’s my one moment of peace and quiet – the calm before the storm. During those few precious minutes, I just sit and savor my “me” time, because I know there won’t be another one like it for the next sixteen hours. Sometimes, I’ll ask myself powerful questions to shift my focus toward the positive – things like, What am I grateful for? What’s one thing I can do today that would make me feel great? Or, sometimes, I’ll just sit and enjoy the quiet.
Without those few minutes, my whole day falls apart. If I don’t take that time, I can’t concentrate, I get irritable, and plans disappear. But by taking those few minutes, I set the tone for the day, and I step into it with a mindset of peace, positivity, and focus.
“That’s a ritual,” said my friend, when I told her about it.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I feel like I should use that time to meditate or something, but I don’t.”
Studies have proven the benefits of rituals in many areas of life, from athletes’ performance in high-pressure games, to people grieving the loss of a loved one. Rituals improve attention, increase emotional stability, boost confidence, and improve performance – even if the rituals aren’t “official,” like mine.
They don’t have to be long and involved. They don’t have to spiritual or religious. They don’t have to be rational, even. All they have to do is help you get into the mindset you need. Athletes, especially baseball players, are known for their superstitions – things like Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox infielder, taking exactly 117 ground balls in practice, and writing the Hebrew word “Chai,” which means “living,” in the dirt before going up to bat. Those things are all an important piece of his performance.
Of course, some rituals do have logical benefits, like doing yoga every morning. But they don’t have to be, so that idea shouldn’t stop you from creating your own rituals – or, like in my case, amplifying ones you may already have.
So let me ask you: what are some of your rituals?
What’s something you do regularly, to help you get the mindset you want?
What’s a ritual that you’d like to start doing?
Whatever your ritual – whether you go for a run, walk the dog, take a long shower, or drink your coffee alone – you can incorporate powerful questions, to help you create the mindset you need for the day:
What am I grateful for?
What can I do better?
What’s one thing I could do today that would make me feel great by the end of the day?
How can I do this day well?
How do I want to feel at the end of today?
(You can also tweak these questions to use with mid-day or bedtime rituals.)
Tell me below about what you do, or would like to do, to optimize your own mindset. I’d love to hear about it!
Then take that mindset, go out, and shine.
Photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash
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