The Power of Ritual: How to Build Meaningful Habits

"Rituals are formulas by which harmony is restored" - Terry Tempest Williams

A new year has many of us thinking about resolutions and new habits, but so often, our resolutions don't seem to stick and quickly fade from the forefront of our minds. Reframing the way we think about new, healthier habits is crucial in determining their longevity and success and allows our self care journey to be more meaningful.

Woman Sketching Plants

Ritual Versus Resolution

While the initial motivation of rituals can easily wear off, rituals help to keep us on track because they are actively happening, whereas resolutions are stated to take place in the future. Resolutions focus on ridding our lives of negative behaviors, while rituals inspire us to implement healthy behaviors. This creates a sense of optimism and control, which provides us with a feeling of safety and security. Because we are in the driver's seat, we know where we're headed and rituals are the positive steps that make up our road map.

Woman Doing Yoga

Start small and remain consistent

Let's say you're working on writing a novel... If 30 minutes of writing each day feels daunting, decrease it to 15 minutes a day. This takes some of the pressure off, while re-training your mind to make small, yet consistent progress. It's quite likely that after starting small, with a 15 minute ritual of daily writing, you will become more likely to want to increase this window of time as you remain persistent.

Lighting Incense with Match

One thing at a time

Focus on one positive change this month to decrease the chances of being overwhelmed. If you try to implement multiple rituals into your day all at once, it's much more likely that you are setting yourself up for failure. Start small and focus on one, important ritual that will implement steady, positive change in your life this month before adding something new. However, the beautiful thing about having one ritual to focus on, is that it can contain a multitude of habits. Say you have a morning ritual that consists of making tea, journaling, and meditation... These are all small actions or habits that can make up one ritual. 

Woman Meditating in Maroon Pajamas

There are no rules

Whether it feels better to be intentional and mindful about certain rituals throughout your day, or whether you utilize automaticity, you define your relationship with each specific ritual. Sometimes developing muscle memory can be beneficial in the sense that it allows you to sidestep willpower and take some pressure off. Conversely, it can also be helpful for some to focus completely on the ritual, quieting thoughts and becoming rooted in intentions. Can you find magic and meditation in the mundane or does leaning into intentionality feel better? Or maybe a balance of both? You define what works for you.

Woman Reading in the Bath

One of the most beautiful and defining things about rituals is that they are a bridge between our inner thoughts and the physical world, a profound way for us to combine the internal and external. They make the ordinary extraordinary by bringing intentions to life, while reminding us of our universality and reconnecting us with nature. Just as the seasons change, we are reminded of our own need to shift and grow.