What gives structure to your life
Why rituals are important
The concept of ritual is sometimes a bit negative. It sounds like ceremonies, like deadlocked processes that we expose ourselves to. But when we take a step back from ourselves, we notice that we ourselves perform a lot of ritual acts day in and day out, and only when these are no longer possible does it reveal how important these customs are to us in truth. In this post you will learn why we absolutely need these rituals and how they shape everyday life.
Believe it or not: Hardly anything shapes our everyday life as much as rituals do. You can even go further and claim that without our rituals we would be lost in life. And we're not talking about the big rituals that are only performed on certain occasions, for example funeral services - but about small to very small daily actions that are guard rails for us in everyday life.
Even having a cup of coffee in the morning can be a ritual that is good for us and helps us start the day - even if we have slept well. Image source: M.Radwan Radwan /
It is not at all a matter of forcibly indulging in these rites, it would of course also work without them. Nobody needs their morning coffee to survive, but the tasty hot drink helps many to get the day off to a good start. And that is essential if we have to perform during the day. Rituals also help us indirectly at work. Therefore
Rituals give us security
If you start every morning in a similar way, you usually don't do this because it's about compulsive acts, but rather because of a certain routine that keeps us in our own comfort zone. The comfort zone may not always be positively associated in (professional) life, but in private life it is what gives us strength, self-confidence and confidence. Anyone who feels uncomfortable with their ritual will quickly drop it, after all, one does not torture oneself with anything voluntarily.
Do you always listen to the same radio station in the morning? Do you mostly take the same bus to the office, the one at 7:49 a.m.? Do the children always want toast with cheese and a cup of hot cocoa for breakfast? Then you and the family are also shaped by rituals. And they definitely feel good.
The tennis lesson on Wednesday and the weekend beer with friends are customs that give your everyday life a certain structure. But we hardly think about it anymore, why should it? All this is normal, right? That hits the nail on the head somewhere, but these are exactly your rituals.
Even looking at the newspaper while waiting for the subway to take us to work is ultimately a ritual. Image source: Pxfuel
But the question remains: why are rituals so important? Isn't it just habits that you can get rid of? This description would not do justice to the rite itself, and the word also sounds a bit negative. “It's a bad habit of his” or “You should get rid of this habit again”, these are sentences that ring in the ear when it comes to the term. A ritual, however, encompasses much more, in truth it is an anchor in life that has been thrown out in several places and that gives us stability.
We align our lives along these anchor points - nothing less. Humans need these regulated processes in order to move on safe terrain. For some, a few rituals such as jam on the breakfast roll are enough to feel safe, others go on vacation at the same time every year with the same goal in order to lash a structure for themselves.
Well, rituals give us security. But why do we need security? People always strive for something new, for the still unknown, don't they? That is only partially correct, because the individual longs for security. It longs to be in control, and that works best in a comfort zone where we surround ourselves with rituals. There we don't want to have any unknown things around us, no changes and certainly no stress. If something is well known to us, it doesn't have to be boring or stuffy, but rather a point where we feel comfortable. Life becomes easy at this point, and it is that simplicity that helps us, precisely because we are exposed to a lot of stress out there at work.
Incidentally, rituals provide a particularly good hold in times of crisis. When we are not doing well, we need this place of security all the more. Unnecessary burdens are even more annoying than usual, and that spreads a feeling of insecurity. As if control is being lost.
Consciously enter into rituals for yourself
Is a ritual just a ritual if we don't think about it, but simply experience it or let it happen to us? No, that would have been too short. Just as one can speak openly about one's wishes, provided that this is not at the expense of other people, one can also consciously design and act out rituals. As already described above: Your ritual doesn't have to be anything special. If it is enough for you to go for an hour's walk twice a week, then that is just as much a ritual as the annual relaxation weekend, when you go to a hotel with a spa all by yourself and really switch off.
The “local pub with friends” ritual is also a good ritual if you switch off from everyday life and feel comfortable in your anchor zone. Image source: vedanti / Pixabay
Many people also find reading to be a beautiful ritual. They enter their anchor zone when they pick up a good book in the evening and relax while reading it. Do what is good for you, that is important. And when it’s going to a bar with your best friend, to simply talk about football for two hours over a beer. If you do this regularly and enjoy it, then this too is a ritual that gives you an anchor in life.
Rituals for everyday life
Solid structures can provide stability, especially in the morning, and help us get going. Whether it's the coffee, as mentioned before, or a short walk to the bakery and back to stimulate the circulation: Whatever you like is allowed, of course, only if the people around you do not suffer from it. Whether you want to meditate in the bedroom before heading out into the (supposedly) hostile world is entirely up to you, as long as you don't forget to prepare breakfast for the children.
Incidentally, this also applies to the evening, or rather before going to bed. Can you manage to enjoy the evening without thinking about your job? Admittedly, that doesn't always work, but at least you should resist the temptation to open the laptop again at a late hour zusehen and see whether the expected customer email has finally arrived. So don't switch off - so make do with rites. Read engaging books or open the newspaper for distraction, or watch a movie.
All of these are rituals that contribute to relaxation. Dim the lights for some time before you go to bed, and turn off the TV in good time before you go to bed. Bright light will keep you awake artificially. If you have difficulty finding the jump in the direction of the bed in the evening because you are too lazy for evening hygiene when you are tired and postpone it, then get ready for bed as long as you are not too tired for it are. Then you can go to bed straight away when tiredness overtakes you. An extremely helpful ritual.
Those who master the evening hygiene hurdle in good time and do not delay them often go to bed more relaxed and earlier. Image source: slavoljubovski / Pixabay
Think how important evening rituals are for younger children! After dinner there is the sandman, then the teeth are brushed and then dad or mom reads a book in bed. This fixed process is extremely important for children to find a good sleep. And that is still the case in principle in adulthood.
Rituals for the job: take a real break
Surely you have a lot of rites in professional matters too. It can stay that way and it's important. Therefore, this section should now be about how you develop rituals to get good and relaxing breaks. It should be noted that everyone has different needs here too.
Only breaks in which you can really switch off for yourself are relaxing. Develop a ritual for your personal work break. Image source: manfredsteger / Pixabay
Perhaps you've been going to lunch with one or the other colleague out of habit for years - and don't really feel like it? You are certainly not alone, because many people want to be to themselves with their thoughts from time to time. And even if you decide not to talk to your colleagues at the table about this project or that customer: somebody in the circle always starts with this topic, it simply cannot be avoided.
Sure, you can't always pull yourself out of such a group, and clear messages that you need some time for yourself could quickly be misunderstood by colleagues. One is quickly seen as a loner. Good colleagues are sure to react with understanding when they say that they have to switch off for themselves during the lunch break. In return, you can perhaps spend the shorter coffee breaks during the day with your colleagues.
So think about what will give you strength for the rest of the working day. Go to dinner alone and take a book or the newspaper with you, and you can immerse yourself in other worlds. Or take a walk in the fresh air to free your mind - the oxygen and exercise are extremely beneficial for this.
As already described at the beginning, rituals don't have to be anything special. Anyone who undertakes too much or sets the bar too high will only be disappointed in the end, and this also applies to rituals in family circles. You don't have to think big to have quality time together, it's the little joys of everyday life that make all family members feel good and have their own comfort zone.
Spending time together, playing games, cuddling, reading, going to the playground, eating together - rituals that are important for families. Image source: Merio / Pixabay
Especially with children it is necessary to have reasonably fixed processes, that gives us security and the children too. Think about how you can maintain rituals without having to do a lot of extra work! It may seem a bit strange to children when you start asking them what their favorite dish is and cooking it every day. No, it is completely sufficient if you take the time to eat at least one meal a day as a family; ideally in the evening, when you can tell each other about your experiences.
And rituals also help when a parent is exhausted and tired - because they do not require a lot of strength. Go outside with the family, for example to the playground, play in the park with the children or go on a short bike ride. Community games are beautiful rituals for all family members, and watching TV together at regular intervals is also a beautiful custom.
Dealing with friendships also needs rituals
When we think about how we deal with rituals, we easily forget that our fellow human beings need these rites just as much as we do. That is why rituals are by no means selfish, but rather represent a natural need. For customs that you have with good friends , you can assume that the companions feel the same way. It doesn't matter whether you're watching a soccer game, going to the cocktail bar or going to the cinema.
The worst that can happen to cherished rituals is permanent postponement. If you only meet every few weeks or months, you should set the date in good time and agree something very specific. Of course you can get sick from time to time, but then you have to find an alternative date quickly.
It is easier if you ritually meet once a month. A fixed appointment for the bowling evening on the first Wednesday of the month is better memorized than a loose “we will meet up sometime by SMS”, after all, nobody wants to miss the bowling appointment! But also the meetings for two have to be knocked down. Make a ritual out of meeting, it works very well, for example, when someone writes a short message: “Tuesday or Thursday for a beer next week?” The other either agrees - or immediately makes an alternative appointment: “Next week no time - what about the following Tuesday? ”So you always play the ball back and forth and the next meeting will definitely take place soon.
Nobody is without a ritual - that much is certain. Even professional travelers who are only on the go and wake up in a different hotel bed every day develop routines in the morning and evening that they feel comfortable with. Because that's what rituals are all about: we need them to be good.
If, on the other hand, we are not feeling well emotionally, then we have to listen to ourselves and ask ourselves why that is. Often we lack anchors in life that we create through rituals. This creates zones of security that provide support in certain situations, for example at home or in the office. A ritual is basically an instruction from the subconscious to put us in the comfort zone where we can find security and serenity. Hardly anything shapes everyday life more than ritual. We notice this most strongly when we fail to adhere to a ritual, when the planned Tuesday beer is canceled or when the family does not dine together. Because it's the little things that matter.
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