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The importance of routines & rituals

I am going ahead and claim that we all use routines and rituals in one way or another. It is a matter of interpretation. It might be more visible for one person than another. Because, for instance, one person could have more energy and discipline. Yet I believe that, consciously or unconsciously, we develop routines and rituals for ourselves. Why? Because this gives us a sense of peace, control and structure in our lives. I say “a sense,” because we never have total control over our lives.

A routine is a standard sequence of doing something. A certain time or a moment or in a certain order. Often you do this automatically, it can be a bit boring and it gives you a sense of “have to.” For example, it may be that you exercise every Tuesday and Thursday. Or when you get home from work, you eat dinner, do homework for an hour, watch Netflix and then go to bed.

A ritual is more about how you do or implement something. You are much more aware of this and it makes your daily moments meaningful. Think, for example, of humming songs with your children while brushing your teeth or when you take a bath, you also take the time to put on a face mask. You are aware and in the moment. And you get to charge your energy levels.

There also are traditions. I will not go into this too deeply, but traditions actually provide for your sense of identity and connection to others. Traditions don’t happen on a daily basis, but usually during special events. And accomodate a social connection.

Routines and rituals create structure. In addition, they help to prevent overstimulation and to fully focus on what is important in that moment. It is therefore not surprising that many great thinkers, philosophers, composers, athletes and artists adhere strictly to routines and rituals. Routines give them a sense of (self) confidence, concentration, control and automatism. It reduces doubt and promotes decision-making. So they only have to think about the things that are important to them in the moment. Because creativity and top performance arise in the moment.

Returning to my introduction, I believe that everyone adheres to certain routines and rituals. The trick is to use them in such a way that they will work for you. You can develop rituals and use them consciously during your routines. That way, your routines are no longer so boring and you are very conscious about them. To give an example, my partner and I cook together and then we go through each other’s day, after that I give myself some time to “play,” this can be gaming, but also painting, whatever I feel like, then I go to bed on time, so I can read and work on my personal development. I combine my routines with rituals so that they consciously work for me.

I know that this all sounds amazing and that you are now thinking that you really cannot manage those kind of routines and rituals every day. And that’s right! There will be days when it will be difficult to stick to your routine or ritual. I have that too and it is very normal. If you are struggling with a behavioral problem, this may even seem like an impossible task. Accept it and don’t feel guilty. The point is that you keep trying. We are not perfect, so we don’t have to be perfect. Keep in mind that it contributes to your overall well-being and personal development.

Now that you’ve read the above, do you think you also use certain routines and rituals? Which are they? And would you like to use them more consciously? Let me know in the comments.

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